tv FBI Director Wray Testifies Before House Judiciary Panel CSPAN December 7, 2017 2:00pm-2:22pm EST
like it's all been worth it. politics, paul welston told us is about the improvement of people's lives. i know that the work i've been able to do has improved people's lives. i would do it all over again in a heartbeat. for a decade now, every time i would get tired or discouraged or frustrated, i would think about the people i was doing this for and would get me back up on my feet. i know the same will be true for everyone who decides to pursue a politics that is about improving people's lives. and i hope you know that i will be fighting alongside you every step of the way. with that, mr. president, i
yield the floor. senator franken earlier today, if you missed anything he had to say, you'll be able to watch it again tonight at 8:00 on cspan. members of the house judicial committee have a meeting on oversight of the fbi. committee members have been hearing testimony from fbi director christopher wray. they are right now in a recess and probably for the next 20 empties or so so members could head over to the house chambers. at the conclusion, this will resume. while we wait, we'll show you testimony from this hearing from earlier today. >> the judicial committee will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare recesses of the committee at any time. we welcome everyone to this moe morning hearing on oversight of the federal bureau of investigation and i'll begin by recognizing myself for an
opening statement. thank you, director wray, for appearing for your first time in front of this committee and thank you for your service to our country in your position. there is much to discuss today and we look forward to your answers. the president recently tweeted that the fbi is in tatters. while some will take umbrage with president trump's assertion, it does appear to me that at the very least the fbi's reputation as an impartial nonpolitical agency has been called into question recently. we cannot afford for the fbi which has traditionally been dubbed the premier law enforcement agency in the world to become tainted by politicization or the deception of even handedness. question of the fbi's impartiality first came to light under the obama administration surrounding the handles of the investigation into the clinton e-mail server scandal. you, director wray, have a
unique opportunity to repair the damage of the reputation of the fbi and we encourage you in the strongest terms to do so. director comey's decision to weigh in on the fate of the investigation and the mishandling of classified e-mails by former secretary of state hillary clinton was one that brought criticism to the bureau from all sides. the fbi's decision to recommend no charges against former -- the former secretary or anyone connected to her continues to raise serious concerns that our nation's system of justice applies differently to the rich, powerful, and well-connected than to everyone else. many on this committee have repeatedly called on attorney general sessions and deputy attorney general rosenstein to name a second special counsel to review the unresolved inconsistencies and perceived improprieties with regard to
normal fbi and dog investigatory practice that arose during the clinton e-mail investigation. despite our requests, the department has not appointed a second special counsel. while we still request the appointment of a second special counsel, we have now also opened our own joint investigation with the house oversight and government reform committee to review fbi and dog's handling of that investigation. the attorney general has recently committed to provide us relevant documents. i hope to hear directly from you that you will ensure your agency provide a response of documents to enable unimpeded congressional oversight. even more recently reports on the bias of some of the career agents and lawyers on current special counsel mueller's team are also deeply troubling to a system of blind and equal justice. investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing
their own personal political opinions. we do not know the magnitude of this insider bias on mr. mueller's team nor do we have a clear understanding of the full magnitude of bias reflected in the russia investigation and prior clinton e-mail investigation. one thing is clear though. it is absolutely unacceptable for fbi employees to permit their own political -- even the appearance of impropriety will devastate the fbi's reputation. we hope to hear from you today about an action plan for making sure this never happens again. that individuals are held accountable. and whether you plan to re-evaluate prior decisions in light of the prejudice shown by officials in integral roles on past and ongoing investigations. concerning substantive legislative measures, we find ourselves only weeks before a
critical program for our national security expires. fisa section 702. this committee passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis a re authorization of section 702 that maintains the integrity of the program while protecting cherished civil liberties. we ensure that the fbi is not hindered by having to obtain a warrant before performing a search for information that the agency has inside its databases. however, we also put in place protections to ensure that law enforcement cannot shortcut american civil liberty's by reading american's e-mails without a warrant when looking for evidence of run of the mill crimes. this committee's legislation struck a balance that will hope -- that will promote national security and civil liberties. so i hope to hear from you that you will work with us to make any perfecting changes to the legislation so that section 702
can be reauthorized on time. needless violence on the home front is also a concern for all americans who value and expect safety and security as they go about their day-to-day lives. we have seen horrific violence in the past year including the worst shooting in u.s. history. violence has hit this very body when our colleague congressman scalise and others were shot. we also see many of our major cities stricken by daily murders and excessive violence. is this the new normal? i'm unwilling to accept that. while we have disagreements over policy for addressing this violence, we can all agree that it is essentially -- it is important for us to understand and address the underlying causes. if we neglect this duty, we do a disservice for generations to come. director wray, in addition to punishing individuals who have already committed criminal acts, i hope the fbi is also committed to crime prevention initiatives.
i'm interested to know what steps federal law enforcement is taking to address the underlying causes of violence and whether congress can offer any additional resources to ensure that we can faithfully say that we have done what we can to battle gratuitous violence in all of its forms. i believe that this committee's criminal justice reform legislation will help address these problems including helping to rehabilitate offenders so that they can become productive members of society once released. notwithstanding the question of the impartiality and independence of the fbi, i am often astounded by the efforts that the men and women of the fbi contribute on a daily basis toward keeping our country safe from foreign and domestic threats. there are many successes that never come to light, that never see the light of day for which the fbi cannot receive public credit due the sensitivity of the fbi's methods and operations. we are truly grateful and hope that the line agents, analysts
and support staff of the fbi know that their jobs are sincerely appreciated and greatly valued. again, director wray, thank you for appearing today. i will now yield to the ranking member of the committee, the gentleman from new york mr. nadler for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome to the house judicial committee, director wray. earlier this week in a message to your agents and employees, you gave us your vision of what the fbi is supposed to be. quote, we find ourselves under the microscope each and every day and rightfully so. we do hard work for a living. we are entrusted with protecting the american people and upholding the constitution and laws of the united states. because of the importance of our mission, we are also entrusted with great power and we should expect and welcome people asking tough questions about how we use that power. that goes with the job. it always has. end quote from your statement. i appreciate that sentiment. but it cannot be a coincidence
that you sent this message to your agents just hours after president trump launched an online tantrum aimed largely at the bureau as an institution and at individual agents. early saturday morning the president tweeted, quote, so general flynn lies to the fbi and his life destroyed while crooked hillary lies many times and nothing happens to her. rigged system or just a double standard, question mark. he went on, after years of comey with the phoney and dishonest clinton investigation, running the fbi, its reputation is in tatters. worse than history. these outbursts exemplify two characteristics of the organization. entirely predictable political attacks against hillary clinton, political opponents, the department of justice, and the fbi. i fear that this demeaning language has infected much of our work here on this committee.
i suspect, mr. director, that many of my republican colleagues will take a similar approach in attempting to shift the questions away from which they have ignored. indeed i predicted these attacks on the fbi will grow louder and more brazen as the special counsel does his work and the walls close in around the president as evidence of his obstruction and other misdeeds becomes more apparent. in this moment, director wray, your responsibility is not only to defend the bureau but to push back against the president when he is clearly wrong both on the facts and as a matter of principle. when he says, quote, the fbi person really reports directly to the president of the united states, unquote, it is your job to tell him the director of the fbi is reported to the attorney general since the founding of the bureau and that the president should not comment on pending cases. when we claims that you should focus on, quote, crooked hillary
instead of his closest associates or when my colleagues argue for a new special counsel to do the same, it is your responsibility to remind us that absence sufficient evidence of a crime, there's no investigation to which a special counsel can be assigned. and when he tells you that need to, quote, clean house, that your agents are, quote, phony and dishonest and that your, quote, rep tag utation or the reputation of the bureau is in tatters, you should do more than send a private e-mail to your employees. your job is to stand up to the president of the united states. as former acting attorney general sally ya-- former attory general said you'll find integrity and honesty at fbi headquarters and not at 1600 pennsylvania avenue right now. whereas thomas o'connor, president of the fbi's agents
association said the fbi continues to be the premier law enforcement agency in the world. they're dedicated to their mission. suggesting otherwise is simply false. i'm curious if you think their defense of the bureau is wrong or misplaced and i hope you'll address the matter in your testimony today. your job requires you to have the courage in these circumstances to stand up to the president. that responsibility is far more than a matter of politics. there are real consequences for allowing the president to continue his attacks on the fbi and to continue unchecked in this manner. for example, fbi statistics released last months show a marked increase in the rise of hate crimes in the united states. your data indicate 6,121 hate crimes against 7,615 victims last year alone. last week about 70 of our colleagues wrote to me and chairman goodlatte asking us to, quote, convene immediate
hearings to determine what can be done to stem the tied, unquote, of this violence. i agree completely. this committee should address the matter without delay. i ask that the letter i have be made a part of the record. >> without objection it will be made a part of record. >> i am certain more than one factor is to blame for this rise in violence but i cannot help but to look to a president who has sometimes explicitly created ab environment that is more hostile to the most vulnerable among us. as a candidate he denigrated women, characterized immigrants as rapists and openly mocked the disabled. as president he cracked a poke hon ta joke at a ceremony honoring the contributions of native americans in combat defending this country, circulated unverified anti-muslim videos and asked us to remember the, quote, very fine people among the racists and white nationalists at charlott
charlottesville. he has even resurrected the question of president obama's birth place, a racist lie from the start. we are looking for leaders who have the moral -- who can supply some moral authority to lead this country. i hope you will be among them, drek director wray. i look forward to your testimony. i thank the chairman and i yield back. >> thanks, gentlemen we welcome our distinguished witness. if you'll please rise i'll begin by swearing you in. do you swear that the testimony that you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god. let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative. mr. christopher wray was sworn in as the director of the fbi on august 22, 2017. a new york city native, mr. wray graduated from yale university and earned his law degree from yale law school. he began his department of
justice career in 19 ne97 as an assistant district attorney for georgia. in 2001 he joined the office of the deputy attorney general where he served as associate deputy attorney general and then principle associate deputy attorney general. in 2003 mr. wray was nominated by president george w. bush to serve as assistant attorney general for the criminal division. he was awarded the edmund j. randolph award the department of justice highest award for leadership and public service. mr. wray went on to practice law before returning to the public sector as director of the fbi. your written statement will be entered into the record and we ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes. welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, ranking member nadler, members of the committee, thank you for having me here today.
this is my first opportunity to appear before this committee and i look forward to our discussion. let me start by saying that it is for me the honor of a lifetime to be here representing the men and women of the fbi. there is no finer institution than the fbi. and no finer people than the men and women who work there and are its very beating heart. almost 37,000 men and women with a fierce commitment to protecting the american people and upholding the rule of law in all 50 states and in about 80 countries around the world. men and women who face the darkest that life has to offer with unyielding integrity and honesty and dedication. and i am both humbled and inspired to be back in public service working alongside them. i'd like to take a step back to consider the serious challenges that we're facing and to remember the millions of people
that we're protecting. on the national security front, we confront individuals who want to harm the united states in whatever way they can help terrorists hell bent on striking us with ieds, vehicles, guns and knives. for example as we speak, the bureau has about 1,000 active isis investigations in all 50 states. we have nation states actively seeking our technology, our military secrets, our research and development to build their own economic process and prowess and to tear ours down. cyber criminals who are using sophisticated means to infiltrate our systems and steal every piece of data that they can get their hand on. these threats are real. they are many. and they are a grave threat to all americans. but for the people we serve, these are not the threats that they encounter the most in their
everyday lives. threats like violent crime and the national opioid epidemic impact everyday people trying to lead everyday lives. they don't want to have to worry about a terrorist driving a truck down a busy walkway. they don't want to worry about an active shooter opening fire on a crowded public gathering. and they certainly don't want to worry about whether their kids are safe from gangs and drug dealers and predators. we all need to be aware of the world around us and of the threats we face. but we in the fbi are trying to do everything we can to make sure that the american people can go about living their lives while we focus on trying to keep them safe. i'd like to highlight just a couple recent investigations that illustrate just a small, small part of our work. together with your law enforcement partners and our
colleagues in the justice department. in october through operation cross country, which the fbi conducted in 44 states and the district of columbia, we arrested 120 sex traffickers and recovered 84 sexually exploited juveniles including a 3 month old girl and her 5-year-old sister who was recovered from a family friend who was trying to sell them for six for $600. and through our top ten most wanted fugitives program we have apprehended just in the last couple years ten of the most particularly dangerous offender. in august, late august, we were able to work with our mexican counter parts to capture a gang member charged with first degree murder for beating, then shooting, and then setting on fire a 15-year-old boy in illinois who refused to show a gang sign. and then earlier this year the pressure of being added to our
top ten list led fugitive robert van weise to turn himself in to fbi agents in texas for the 1983 murder of a young woman with a 1-year-old daughter. for 33 years that little girl, now all grown up, had hoped and prayed for his arrest. and he was finally captured on her birthday. cold comfort i suspect, but we hope that his capture provides some measure of peace and justice to her. the work that we do is not easy to put it mildly but the fbi is mission focussed and passionate about the work we did. we are determined to be the very best at protecting the american people and upholding the rule of law and i, for one, could not be more proud to be part of it. i want to thank you, this committee for your support. we could not do what we do without the funding that you all