tv Senate Intelligence Committee News Conference CSPAN October 4, 2017 12:23pm-1:07pm EDT
what we're going to see in the future. they also say 100,000 pages of documents read. there's 80-plus copies of war and peace. i think that means if you put 80 copies of war and piece on top of each other, you would have 100,000 pages. this gives you a sense that this is going to be a progress report of sorts on where they are in this investigation. that gives you a little bit of a sense of the scope of what we may see here. >> hello. how is everybody today? thank you for being here. it's a busy day around the country. mark and i recognize the tragedy of nevada this week, and at this point, i'm glad to say that it doesn't seem to have a terrorism
nexus. that's not always the outcome, but our hearts and our prayers go out to those directly and indirectly, and from an intelligence committee standpoint and the agencies, they're providing as many assets to local law enforcement and to those people that are tasked with investigations of this unbelievable act. so we're here to update you about, you and the american people about the investigation into russia's meddling in the 2016 election. when we started this investigation on 23 january of this year, we had a very clear focus. we were focused on an evaluation of the ica, the intelligence community assessment, of russia's involvement in our 2016 election. additionally, the investigation was to look into any collusion by either campaign during the 2016 elections. the third piece was an
assessment of the ongoing russian active measures including information and influence campaigns that may still exist and may be ongoing. the investigation started with those three buckets of interest. now, we're over 100 interviews later. which translates to 250-plus hours of interviews. almost 4,000 pages of transcripts. almost 100,000 pages of documents reviewed by our staff and some by members. it includes highly classified intelligence reporting. it includes e-mails, campaign documents, and technical cyber analysis products. the committee has held 11 open hearings this calendar year that have touched on russia's interference in u.s. elections.
i can say that our dedicated russia investigative staff have literally worked six to seven hours a day since 23 january to get us to the point we are today. >> 67 days. >> so far in the interview process, we have interviewed everybody who had a hand or a voice into the creation of the intelligence community assessment. we have spent nine times the amount of time that the community spent putting the ica together, reviewing the ica and all the documents in it, but in addition to that, the things that were thrown on the cutting room floor that they might not have felt appropriate for the ica itself, but we may have found of relevance to our investigation. we have interviewed every official of the obama administration to fully
understand what they saw, what transparency they had into russian involvement and more importantly, what they did or did not do and what drove those actions. again, i'm reminded that we will come out with a finding at some point. and part of that hopefully will be recommendations as to changes we need to make, so we have tried to think as thoroughly through this as we can. we have interviewed literally individuals from around the world. so for those of you that choose to stake out when the next witness is coming, there are some who have snuck through because you don't know who they are. now, it's safe to say that the inquiry has expanded slightly. initial interviews and document review generated hundreds of additional requests on our part for information. it identified many leads that expanded our initial inquiry. the volume of work done by the
staff has prepared the committee to look at some areas of our investigation that we hope will very soon reach some definite conclusion, but we're not there yet. we're not ready to close them. one of those areas is the ica itself. given that we have interviewed everybody who had a hand in the ica, i think there is general consensus among members and staff that we trust the conclusions of the ica. but we don't close our consideration of it in the unlikelihood that we find additional information through the completion of our investigation. the obama administration's response to russian interference, as i said, we have interviewed every person within the administration. they have volunteered and they have been unbelievably cooperative to come in and share
everything they knew, and in most cases, were interviewed for over two hours. the meeting at the mayflower, let me be specific. these are not issues that are closed. we have not come to any final conclusions. we have interviewed seven individuals that attended the mayflower event. the testimony from all seven were consistent with each other. but we understand that with the current investigation open, there may be additional information we find that pulling that thread may give us some additional insight that we don't see today. changes to the platform committee. again, i'm dressing some things that have been written by you in this room, and they may not have been on our chart, but we felt that we had to dig deeply into them. we have the committee staff has interviewed every person involved in the drafting of the campaign platform. campaign staff was attempting to implement what they believed to be guidance, to be a strong ally
on ukraine but also leave the door open for better relations with russia. i'm giving you the feedback we got from the individuals who were in the room making the decision. again, not closed. open for the continuation. the last one i want to cover is the comey memos. this topic has been hotly debated. and the committee is satisfied that our involvement with this issue has reached a logical end as it relates to the russia investigation. now, again, this is not something that we have closed. but we have exhausted every person that we can talk to to get information that's pertinent to us relative to the russia investigation. questions that you might have surrounding comey's firing are better answered by the general counsel or by the justice
department. not the select committee of intelligence in the united states senate. there are concerns that we continue to pursue. collusion, the committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. now, i'm not going to even discuss initial findings because we haven't any. we've got a tremendous amount of documents still to go through, and just to put it in perspective, i said we have done over 100 interviews, over 250 hours. we currently have booked for the balance of this month 25 additional interviews. that may not end up being the total, but as of today, there are 25 individuals booked to meet with our staffs before the end of this month alone. pertaining to the russian investigation. we have more work to do as it relates to collusion, but we're developing a clearer picture of
what happened. what i will confirm is that the russian intelligence service is determined, clever, and i recommend that every campaign and every election official take this very seriously as we move into this november's election and as we move into preparation for the 2018 election. i'm going to ask the vice chairman to cover the other areas that we're in the process of pursuing. >> thank you, richard. and i want to say at the outset again, i'm very proud of this committee. i'm proud of the way the committee has acted. i'm proud of our staff and the enormous amount of work they have done. i know the chairman and i see many of you daily in the hallways. and know that this feels like it's taking a long time. it is taking a long time. but getting it right and getting all the facts is what we owe the american people.
and as we have seen, you know, for example, stories that emerged in the late summer around mr. trump jr.'s meeting or possibilities of a trump tower in moscow. chairman and i would love to find ways to close things down, but we also still see strains and threads that we need to continue to pursue. i'm going to touch on two subjects. the first is echoing what richard has already said. the russian active measures efforts did not end on election day 2016. they were not only geared at the united states of america. we have seen russian active measures take place in france. we have seen concerns raised in the netherlands.
we have seen concerns raised in germany. and we naed need to be on guard. one of the things that was particularly troubling to both of us is the fact that it had become evident that 21 states' electoral systems were not all penetrated but there was at least -- there was at least time to open the door in these 21 states. it has been very disappointing to me, and i believe the chairman as well, that it took 11 months for the department of homeland security to reveal those 21 states. and still don't know why exactly last friday was the date they chose to reveal that information, but still believe there needs to be a more aggressive whole of government approach in terms of protecting
our electoral system. remember, to make a change, even in a national election, doesn't require penetration into 50 states, arguably. states like the chairman's and mine could be, hey, you could pick two or three states and two or three jurisdictions and alter an election. and i believe in a state like mine where in virginia and new jersey, in 34 days, we have elections. i'm glad to see the dhs has said they're going to up their game and particularly help those states with elections that are happening this year. but we need to make sure that there is an organized, again, whole of government approach. i know in virginia, for example, even before we discovered we were one of the 21 states, i think the state electoral board in an abundance of caution, we certified one set of machines that were touch screens that didn't have kind of a paper
ballot or a paper trail to this. one of the things we wanted to emphasize with this briefing, that this is an ongoing concern, and that if states don't proactively move forward, very shortly, we'll be getting into primary seasons, early on in 2018. and this is an ongoing challenge. again, i point out, even after last week, wisconsin, texas, and california still have some lack of clarity about whether the appropriate individuals were notified. i also want to raise an issue that the chairman and i have been working jointly on as well. and that is the russians' use of social media platforms. social media platforms that increasingly the vast majority of us turn to for information, for news, in a way that is very
different. if you look, for example, in the realm of political advertising, we have seen an over 700% increase in the use of digital political advertising between 2012 and 2016. the expectation is that may double or triple again in terms of the next election cycle because of the ability to so target voters. i was concerned at first that some of these social media platform companies did not take this threat seriously enough. i believe they are recognizing that threat now. they have provided us with information. we think it's important that the three companies that we have invited, google, twitter, and facebook, will appear in a public hearing so that americans can again hear both about how we're going to protect, i would
argue three areas. one, making sure if you see an ad that appears on a social media site that americans can know whether the source of that ad was generated by foreign entities. two, to make sure that if you see a story that is trending, becoming more popular, whether that trending is because of series of americans are liking that story or liking that particular page, or it's generated by real individuals or whether that's generated by bots or in some cases it may be false identity, falsely identified accounts. for example, facebook has indicated between 30,000 and 50,000 such accounts were taken down in france because due to russian interference. and third, just the notion that both of us have been in politics a long time. if you have somebody running an
ad for you, against you, you ought to be able to go down and take at least a look at that content the same way that if ads are run for or against you on tv, radio, or news print, you can at least get a look at that content. this is an ongoing process. but we're seeing increasing levels of cooperation, and with that, i'll turn it back over to the chairman and be happy to take questions. >> let me just say many of you have asked us, are we going to release the facebook ads? we don't release documents provided to our committee. period. let me say it again. the senate intelligence committee does not release documents provided by witnesses, companies, whatever the classification, it's not a practice that we're going to get into. clearly, if any of the social media platforms would like to do that, we're fine with them doing it because we have already got scheduled an open hearing because we believe the american people deserve to hear first-hand. and just to remind people on
october 25th, we'll have another open hearing number 12 with michael cohen. on november 1st, we have invited the social media companies that mark mentioned to be our guest at an open hearing. and we feel confident that they will take us up on it. as it relates to the steel dossier, unfortunately, the committee has hit a wall. we have on several occasions made attempts to contact mr. steel to meet with mr. steel, to include personally the vice chairman and myself as two individuals making that connection. those offers have gone unaccepted. the committee cannot really decide the credibility of the dossier without understanding
things like, who paid for it? who are your sources and subsources? we're investigating a very expansive russian network of interference in u.s. elections. and though we have been incredibly enlightened at our ability to rebuild backwards the steel dossier up to a certain date, getting past that point has been somewhat impossible. and i say this because i don't think we're going to find any intelligence products that unlock that key to create june of '16. my hope is that mr. steel will make a decision to meet with either mark and i or the committee or both so that we can hear his side of it versus for us to depict in our findings what his intent or what his actions were. and i say that to you, but i
also say it to chris steel. potential witnesses that we might ask to come in in the future i strongly suggest that you come in and speak with us. if we believe that you have something valuable to bring to the committee, if you don't voluntarily do it, i will assure you today, you will be compelled to do it. i can compel you to come. i can't compel you to talk. but that will be in a very public -- done in a very public way if in fact you turn down the private offer. the committee has proven to be balanced, professional, and willing to listen to everybody. let me say in closing, for those following our investigation in the press, i want you to know that you only see glimpses of the amount of work the committee has done. we're doing much of our work behind closed doors to insure the privacy and protection of
witnesses and sensitive sources and methods. it's become increasingly clear that the committee has stayed focused on building the foundation to be able to finish our investigation thoroughly and in an accountable way. i'm confident today that when we started, we chose wisely by choosing our professional staff to do this investigation and not to the talking heads all around the country that suggested we couldn't do this unless we went out and hired a whole new group. and i think the numbers here reflect that. ultimately, we look forward to completing our work and presenting our findings to the public. i can't set a date as to when that will be. mark can't set a date as to when that will be. we will share with you when we have exhausted every thread of
intelligence, every potential witness that can contribute anything to this. i don't by any stretch of the imagination tell you that there has been value to everybody we have met with. but if we hadn't met with them, then you would have questioned us as to why we didn't. now, the truth is nobody in this room, and mark and i might be included in it, none of us in this room may know everybody we have met with. we're not going to share who we interview. we're not going to share what we ask and we're surely not going to share what they tell us. we're not going to share with you the documents we got, but when you receive 100,000 documents plus, a large group of that coming from the trump campaign alone, when you look at this runtcountry's most sensiti intelligence products, let me assure you we're going to get the best view of what happened that anybody could possibly get.
at the end of this process, we will be sure that we present to the american people our findings as best we have been able to accumulate them. with that, i'll be happy to open it for questions. chad. >> have you seen any evidence of action between the russian facebook ads with the trump campaign or with any political campaign? >> chad, we haven't even had our hearing yet with any of the social media platforms. i think if you look from 10,000 feet, the subject matter of the ads was seems to have been to create chaos in every group that they could possibly identify in america. from a standpoint of any involvement, let us have the opportunity to have these folks in, ask them the questions, and many cases, they didn't even take advantage of some of the most technical targeting tools that exist within those social media companies.
so i would defer answering your questions until we have completed the investigation. >> let me just add, i believe and i think you will see that there will be more forensics done by these companies. again, we just look at scale, france versus the united states, for example, on one of the platforms. facebook in terms of what happened. i think they've got some more work to do, and i'm pleased to say i think they're out doing that work now. >> the president said repeatedly that any talk of collusion is a hoax. you have gone through all of these documents. you have interviewed all these people. at this point, is the president right? is this a hoax? >> i'm going to let you guys quote the president and ask him questions about what he says. not going to be the committee. we're going -- >> do you have evidence to suggest or rule out that the president knew anything about any of these contacts between any of the associates and the russians? >> let me go back and say,
because i thought i was pretty clear. that the issue of collusion is still open. that we continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses. and that we're not in a position where we will come to any type of temporary finding on that until we have completed the process. >> you say that the issue of collusion is still open. are you pursuing the question of whether there's a link between the ads that appeared on social media sites and the trump campaign? >> let me just say, mark could address it if he would like to, if there was any connection that would be pertinent to our investigation of russia's influence in the elections, we have had incredible access and cooperation by those social media companies that have been in. some of them have been interviewed twice.
at the end of the day, we'll be prepared to ask the right questions that may answer some of your questions at that open hearing. >> we also have to get the universe first. i was concerned on the front end that the first path was not a thorough enough pass. i cited the fact that the only ads that were produced were those that were paid for in rubles. obviously, there were various forms of payment. i think the companies are increasingly understanding that their actions need to match their public statements that they realize how important it is to maintain the integrity of our democratic process. i think at the end of the day, it's important that the public sees these ads. >> two questions. you talked about the level of cooperation that you have gotten from obama administration
officials. can you characterize the level of cooperation and candor you have seen from trump campaign officials and those of the trump organization. >> i can't think of a trump campaign official that we have asked to come in that has not come in. there are some individuals that may have been involved in the trump campaign that to this point we might have limited the scope of our questioning. but with the full intent of them coming back when we knew a little bit more and pulled up a few more intelligence threads. >> so far when you compare what they said to you that the documents you have reviewed, do you find they have been truthful by and large? >> i don't think that -- i think our interviews to this point outside of the five specific areas of buckets that we knew exactly what the universe of people we wanted to talk to, we
knew we were trying to find out, that we're very much in an exploratory mode, trying to piece together what people did, where they were, who they talked to, in most cases we have accessed e-mail talked to. in most cases we have access to e-mail messages, text messages, phone records voluntarily. usually when you get things like that voluntarily somebody is probably going to tell you the truth when they answer the questions. the reason we can to the definitively answer some of your questions today is we will take everything that our staff has put into transcripts and we will test that against every piece of intelligence and other interviews that we have done. to suggest that we have done that to everybody thoroughly would be misleading you. so let us go through that process. but i will assure you that if somebody has come in and not been truthful with us, we will catch them on that, and they will come back, and that will be the tubt of great intensity.
-- the subject of great intensity. >> questions for both of you, based on the work so far, what is your assess men of what the russians did do in 2016, what they are doing now and what they intend for the future? >> i will just say i think there was large consensus that they hacked into political files, released those files, and an effort to influence the election. we think they actively tried to at least test the vulnerabilities of 21 states' electoral systems. and we feel that they used the social media firms, both in terms of paid advertising and what i believe is more problematic, but created false
accounts in others that would drive interest towards stories or groups. and generally those stories or groups were to sew chaos and drive division in our country. and i think that the pattern that they used in america they have used in other nations around the world. and i fear sometimes if you add up all they have spent, there was a decent rate of return for them. >> let me add to it if i can. we can certifiably say that no vote totals were affected, that the tallies are accurate. the outcome of the election based upon the count of votes, they did not in any way, shape, or form, that we have been able to find, alter that. i want to reiterate something that mark said. you can't walk away from this and believe that russia is not currently active in trying to create chaos in our election
process. i assume that the same tactics that we saw in montenegro in france in belgium and in the united states will continue to be tested within our structure of the election process here on. >> thank you sir. pivoting off that point you just noted that facebook, they say ten million people saw their ads. there was an information campaign waged against one candidate by the russians. and of course they probed 21 states' perhaps more that we didn't catch. can you definitively look at the american public, senator birk, and say that the election was not influenced in any way by this massive russian operation? >> let me take issue with your premise of your question. neither mark or i said that there was a campaign targeted against one. we are looking at both campaigns. >> that's what the ica has said.
>> the ica did not look at collusion of the campaigns. the ica looked at russian -- let me finish -- russian involvement in the election process. we are in agreement with that. we have not come to any determination on collusion or russia's preferences. if we used solely the social media advertising that we have seen, there's no way that you can look at that and say that that was to help the right side of the idea logical chart and not the left, or vice versa. they were indiscriminate. one of the things that's most challenging to this investigation is with the exception of certain pieces that have already been discussed, it seems that the overall theme of the russian involvement in the u.s. elections was to create
chaos at every level. and i would tell you the fact that we are sitting here nine months later investigating it, they have been pretty darn successful. >> chairman, how would you rate the administration and the country's response to this in terms of preventing something like this from happening in the future. and how ready are we for virginia's election in 2018? what more needs to be done? >> i'll let mark address virginia but let me just say this. our role is not to necessarily suggest here are the things we need to do. our investigation should create a road map for committees of the proper jurisdiction to follow, for states to follow. mark and i made a decision to take the initiative in our authorization bill that we require in our authorization bill that there be a designated person in every state who has a security clearance to be briefed on election issues. we couldn't say secretary of state because that's not the
case in every state but we felt compelled with what we had learned to make sure that just the fact that somebody wasn't cleared at a high enough level would put a state out there not being notified. so we have made some steps in the right direction. as we see those things that we think it's appropriate for us to do, we will do. if we see that it's not appropriate for us to do, we will hopefully convey that in a way that presents a road map for somebody else. >> are you satisfied that the administration is paying close enough attention to this? >> let me -- i appreciate what you just said. i think you are putting this in our intel bill. i mean it seemed very strange to me that somehow there was an excuse being given that we can't tell the top official because he or she may not have the high enough clearance. i'm glad to see as of last friday the dhs has changed that
restriction. we aim to see a whole of government approach about protecting our electoral system. we need a whole of government approach, in terms of cyber vulnerabilities across the board. came from a meeting this morning where there was uniform consensus where most of our private and personal financial information may be in the hands now of rogue elements that there wasn't appropriate cyber protections there. so this is -- this is that -- this is why i have characterized some of this as the wild, while west. this whole realm in cyber we all need to step up our game. >> senator, the russian -- >> i'm going to go here. >> do you think this report needs to be done, your conclusion needs to happen before the 2018 election in order to warn people what can happen next? and where do you think the most
work needs to be done? >> i'm not going to set an artificial deadline by i think mark and i would agree. we have got to make our facts as it relates to russia's involvement in our election public prior to the primaries getting started in 2018, which means sometime the first of the year. it's still my aspirational goal to finish the entire investigation this calendar year. don't think i've changed but when we started nine months ago i saw three buckets and today i talked about five or six. i didn't dream then what it would expand to. i can't predict what witnesses are going to share with us that might lead us in a different direction. >> one of the things, again, i think that the committee has been very good at is we are going to follow the facts. and we want to do it as quickly as possible. but we want to do it right and follow the facts. >> is the russian attorney going to come through, the russian
attorney that met with donald trump jr., she has offered to come into open committee. have you reached out to her? is she one of the 25 on your list. >> how do you know we haven't already? >> i don't. i'm asking. >> all right. >> this is a question for both of you. there any progress on creating legislation that would create new rules for creating how political advertising works on these platforms that republicans which discussed with democrats? >> senator clob shaw and i are work on something. i believe that would be the lightest touch possible. and that light touch would focus on making sure that foreign paid for advertising doesn't penetrated our political system and that there was an ability to at least look at the content that appears in political campaigns the same way that -- similar to the rules that the rest of the media already have. i want to make sure we get -- we are hoping to finish that drft
-- draft in the coming days. i can ashare you one of the first people i want to share that with is my chairman because this is an area where i think there will be broad bipartisan consensus. in my experience at least from the comments from some of the companiesings i have heard at least comments that they are open to this type of disclosure. >> let me just state fact today. it is illegal today for foreign money to find its way into u.s. elections. so it's not like we have got to rewrite some morals. yes. >> i just want to get clarification on this. so far, you have not been able to verify the intelligence community's assessment that russia was weighing in on the side of donald trump? >> we feel very confident that the ica's accuracy is going to be supported by our committee.
we are not willing to close the issue given the nature of the rest of the investigation that we might get a thread of intelligence that suggests possibly an area of the ica that our interpretation is different. so we are leaving it open. it's not closed. and i think any smart investigation would stay open until we have completed. >> that's -- the reason we are trying to be very careful here is we mentioned some of the meetings where we have talked to most folks. we have also -- it has to be talked through with the balance of the committee members. we are being extra cautious here saying we are not reaching financial conclusions until we have had those conversations with all. >> could there ever a point where the medaling of russia was so overwhelming that it could lead to negating the results of the election?
>> maybe that's a theory people are working under. all i can tell you is that the votes were counted. one person won. and that's how it's going to stay. >> prior to the release of your committee's report, will there be any coordination on what the senate judiciary committee has found in its own investigation? >> listen, we are focused on our investigation. everybody has their jurisdictional lanes. my hope is that they stay within those lanes. we talk -- i won't say reg rrly, but when we need to with the special counsel. the special counsel is focused on criminal acts. we are not focused on criminal acts. if we find one then they are the first phone call we make. >> senator, the president's demander in chief is charged with defending the country but hasn't spoken out on this issue. do you want the see him lead some kind of effort, speak out, do something tangible to protect the country from these what i
consider the ongoing attacks from russia. >> last year i may have alluded to the fact that although it was slow in getting dhs to recognize had it didn't take as long as the last administration to run clock on it. we are not trying to look back and point to things that things that were done now. >> i'm a talk about should the president now take what you are saying today, speak out against it and lead some kind of formal effort to protect the country. >> i'm not asked the president to take the briefing that we give at a press briefing about progress and assume that that in any way, shape, or form fully encapsulates what our final report will say. what i will say is what the vice chairman pointed out, that the department of homeland security has taken a different posture. it's his administration. i'm sure they have his direction or his leadership's direction.
we're pleased with the progress that they are making. but some of the things that hopefully we will be able to point out will be important steps to be incorporated in their thought process moving forward. thank you guys, would have got to run. >> thank you. that briefing.wrag up with the chair and the vice chair the senate intelligence committee. if you missed any of what they had to say g to our website, c-span.org. you can also find russia hearings there. today the senate budget committee will consider the 2018 budget resolution. live coverage begins at 2:30
here on c-span3, also on line at c-span.org and you can listen with the free c-span radio app. >> this weekend on american history on c-span3, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history. professor laura watt discusses the evolution of the national park system. >> this was not just a case of setting aside an already natural landscape and leebing it alone. which is what we ten to think of when we think of park protection. what he was doing was making nature out of what at the time was mostly old sheep's meadows. there actually is a big grassy area in central park called the sheep's meadow. that's why, because there were sheep on it. >> sunday at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts joby hill on saving slave houses. >> it's important to do this because one documentation is a type of preservation. slave houses are buildings that
are disappearing from the landscape. and so by documenting them, that's one way of preserving them. documenting them and through my database is also a way to share information and get it out there and learn from them. >> then at 7:00 p.m. on oral histories, we continue our series on photojournalists with an interview with lukian perkins. >> following a woman named sandy irvin who ended up on the front page of the post and the photo is of her yelling at these freshmen bleeps with her chin up like the this. and that photograph ran everywhere in the world and i'm convinced that the story helped me get a job at the post. >> american history tv, all weekend, every week, only on c-span3. and now a portion