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tv   FBI Director Wray Testifies Before House Judiciary Panel  CSPAN  December 7, 2017 2:36pm-3:10pm EST

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about the special counsel's investigation or anybody else at the white house? >> no. >> my final question is the president's tirade ended with one final tweet where he says your reputation is in tatters. after years of -- well, director wray -- it's up there. we have heard other veterans of the fbi and the department of justice push back against this attack on the reputation of the fbi. with the time i have -- we haven't heard from you. with the time i have left will you respond to this tweet by the president. it the fbi's reputation in tatters? >> mr. chairman, may i have time to answer this question? because it's something that matters to me. >> go ahead, please. >> congressman, there is no shortage of opinions out there. what i can tell you is that the fbi that i see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies
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from russia, china, north korea and iran. the fbi that i see is tens of t thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people they will never know safe from harm. the fbi that i see is reflected in folks like -- n the committee will reconvene. we were in the questioning period with the director of the fbi and the chair recognizes the gentle woman from georgia. >> thank you, mr. chairman and director wray. thank you so much for being here. it is wonderful to see you. i would just like to say that given your distinguished and exs ex'em peculiary record of service, i am on the optimistic side that under your leadership we really will see a heightened degree of integrity going forward in the agency. i look forward to that. i wanted to ask a couple of
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questions around terrorism and isis. you mentioned in your opening testimony that the agency has some 1,000 active terrorism related investigations. how is that volume of terrorism investigative cases continuing or not continuing to strain the agency in terms of resources and your breadth of being able to cover other investigations? >> it's a good question. in addition to those thousand isis-related investigations, we have, you know, probably closely similar number of what we would classify as home grown violent extremists which we would define as not so much isis directed but isis inspired. lone wolves here who see sermons and videos and things like that and decide they want to act. then of course we have quite a fair number still even now in 2017 of al qaeda-related investigations,
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hezbollah-related investigations and a number of other terrorist groups. that's not even talking about the domestic terrorism investigations. so our counterterrorism division and our joint terrorism task forces around the country are extremely busy. we have i think matured to a point where we're not having to redivert aen redivert agents from the more traditional programs except in the case where there's a sudden attack and will surge. but there's no question we are spread very thin and we're doing the best we can with what we have. i said to somebody recently everywhere i turn in the country i find people who want the fbi to do more of something and i have yet to find the person who has identified something they want the fbi to do less of, but i'd love to some day. >> there you go. you brought up home grown terrorists and isis inspired terrorists. what ability does the fbi have
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to actually investigate publicly available information that's posted online specifically on various social media sites and facebook, et cetera, about individuals who would be terrorist sympathizers? >> we do not as a matter of course just sit and sort of monitor social media. we do, however, in the context of specific properly predicated investigations look at all available sources, including publicly available information which could include the kinds of information that you're describing. so it's definitely true that social media becomes a major part of a lot of our terrorism investigations, but we don't really have the means or really the authority to just kind of sit and troll social media looking for problems. >> but if you have a case that you're working, do you have the authority to further those
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investigations? >> yes. >> good. all right. you mentioned also earlier in one of your responses about many terrorist investigations are linked also to immigration violations. i wanted to talk about the diversity visa. as you know, it's been reported that the suspect in the new york city attack on halloween entered the u.s. on a diversity visa. in the course of the investigation, can you just talk a little bit more about the abuse of the immigration system in particular visa security issues that are being exploited by subjects who are -- individuals who are the subjects of investigations and are there changes to that process, that vetting, that you could recommend to us? >> well, i think most changes to the immigration or visa program are really better directed to homeland zurt a homeland security and the department of state which have
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responsibility for that enforcement. i think i can say this because it's public records in the chargi charging documents. in the new york attack, although he did come in the diversity visa program, he radicalized, at least according to him, radicalized a little bit after he got here. in other words, he wasn't already radicalized when he came in it would appear. some of the visa concerns that we have going forward are as the caliphate collapses and as fighters from overseas fan out to other countries, they could well end up in countries, for example, visa waiver countries and then end up in the u.s. so a lot of people worry are they going to -- when the caliphate falls all come to the u.s. another scenario that's a little more worrisome and maybe a little more likely is that they flee syria or iraq and go to
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some other country, some third country and are there for a while and then come into the u.s. maybe a year from now, 18 months from now, two years from now. that's something that concerns us. >> okay. great. thank you. my time is up. thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you very much. director, thank you for being here. i know that has been touched on a couple of times. i just want to reiterate something i hear regularly from my constituents in south texas and that's a concern we have a special counsel investigating the trump administration but it seems like no one is addressing the clinton administration. i know the chairman touched on this as did some of the other questions. i really don't have a question here other than to reiterate that it is a pretty strong concern of a lot of folks that i represent and i know you all don't comment on whether or not there is an ongoing
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investigation or is not, but as we start seeing the results of the special counsel's investigations coming to fruition with publicly announced indictments and the like, if there are investigations going on with the fbi, and i hope they are, the time is getting right to see some results for that. i think the other piece of that is a lot of my constituents say it's not fair we have a special counsel investigating one side and not the other. so i just put that out there. now that i'm finished on my soap box, i do want to talk a little bit about section 702. during our doj oversight hearing with the attorney general, he indicated the doj finds it problematic to require a warrant from the court before accessing or disseminating contents of communications that aren't related to foreign intelligence. i have a great deal of respect for attorney general sessions.
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but i have to say i wasn't totally satisfied with the answer to this question so i want ask you again is it fair to say that requiring a court order of content in limited circumstances after a 702 database was queried specifically to return evidence of a crime dismantles the 702 program, a national security stool designed to protect us from terrorists, not common criminals? >> congressman, the dismantles language i think comes from the office of the director of national intelligence response to the bill. and that is the intelligence community's view about the bill in its totality. all of the different changes, not just the kwquerying part oft that you referred to but some others. we do believe very strongly we are using the tool lawful i aly
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appropriately and that has been found by the courts that have looked at the issue and by all the different oversight mechanisms that have existed. we do believe that starting to, when there is no constitutional requirement to do so, and that is in my mind quite clear, that adding additional burdens and hoops for agents to jump through at that really early stage, that's what 702 is so important is at the very early stage. when tips are coming in, we're g getting flooded with leads and trying to evaluate is this a lead. it may come in and turnout to be foreign intelligence information. it may turnout to be some other kind of crime. at that point we don't know and all we want to be able to is query and ch which is running a database check of information already in our possession. >> i know the need to protect us from crime, but the fourth amendment is in the constitution for a reason and i have a great
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deal of respect for that. on a similar note, i've introduced legislation criminalizing improper unmasking. it's actually called the wrongful unmasking prevention act which establishes a penalty of ten years imprisonment for anyone who knowingly make an unmasking request for any reason other than to understand foreign intelligence information to assess the importance of foreign intelligence information or to determine whether classified information is evidence of a crime which has been, is being or is about to be committed. the idea behind this is you don't want folks unmasking stuff for political purposes or to checkup on their girlfriend or their neighbor or for some other improper reason. obviously this is just a bill. but from an agency perspective, does the fbi now investigate unmasking claims that might be improper? >> there are situations where
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the request could lead to an investigation. merely somebody making a request, an unmasking request and having it denied, for example, is not -- would not be enough. but if we have evidence that somebody obtained, which would in that case, for example, be classified information for an improper purpose, you know, that is something that we would investigate. a lot of times the unmasking concerns are linked to and less about the unmasking itself and more about a n in my mind a ver serious issue leaks of the information whether it's through unmasking or something else. that's something that we're trying to be very aggressive on. my -- i think the department, the intelligence community, the fbi are open to working with you and the committee on the unmasking issue. i think ideally it would be separated from 702 which we think is an incredibly important
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tool. >> i see my time has eck pixpir. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia mr. collins for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks for being here. thanks for staying. sometimes we get here a little bit later and we go earlier as many have left, but sometimes you get to stay to the end. there's something you had said earlier, the chairman brought it up and the one from northeast georgia, it's good to be back. you traveled to gainesville in judge kelly's court and everybody else for a while. i think the interesting thing here is something that was said earlier especially when asked about stuff and it was the determination i'm not going to share that here. what is your belief, personal belief and how much you have to cooperate with this committee? >> my own view is that we should be trying to do everything to cooperate with this committee that we legally and appropriately can. >> and -- because you come here, you're under oath, you're still under oath. something we take very
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seriously. but i've also been here five years. some of the questions today and i'm going to put it in perspective, because there's some things i want to put for the record. we have a good relationship starting forward because i think you bring a hopefully, to this . my dad was a state trooper. i come from a law enforcement background. we've got to have this trust. but just as a few years ago, july 6th, 2011, in a draft letter circulated within department of justice, a department official, wrote, i would stay away from the representation that will fully cooperate in the future. this is dealing with fast and furious. so you've got to understand, the members up here doing our constitutional job, are sometimes skeptical of what has been said here. and i've had an interesting back and forth with the former attorney general, with your former -- the former fbi director. so i just have a few questions, if we could. one, is it possibly -- recently, there's been some problems. and i want to hear from you. of unprecedented leak of
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information about fisa. we got into fisa a while ago. specifically, a leak of information of fisa pir wiretap of paul manafort. it's a felony, is it not? >> i'm sorry -- >> fisa warrants is a felony, is it not? >> yes, i would think it would be. >> what is the fbi currently doing to identify the leakers of that information? >> well, i'm not going to comment on or confirm or deny the existence of any specific investigation. i will say that when we have at the moment quite a number of active investigations into unauthorized disclosures of classified information. >> is it something you would say you would put a high priority on? finding out who leaks and holding them accountable? >> i believe that finding out -- i will say that i believe that finding out who has leaked classified information is something that's extremely important. i will say also, having been somebody who has had responsibility for a lot of leak investigations, not just now, but when i was the assistant attorney general, and had both
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criminal division and what's now the national security division, leak investigations are breathtakingly difficult to pursue. >> well, i think -- >> and so that doesn't mean we -- does not mean we shouldn't pursue them. in fact, i'm a big believer of the idea we should, even if we may be pessimistic about our ability, ultimately, to be able to find somebody to charge. because the mere fact of bringing of -- of conducting those investigations sends a strong signal that we will not tolerate people leaking classified information. >> and i agree with that. and i think that's -- that needs to happen. it's got to start with you, and if it doesn't start with you -- and frankly, there has not been that leadership in the department for a while. let's go back to fisa. earlier on, there was a discussion that came across -- we're not going to provide that or provide that in that setting or we didn't have a right to that. so i have a few questions. what information or documents related to fisa do you think the fbi can withhold from the committee. withhold fisa warrants? >> i think there's a couple different stages of cooperation here, right? so one is the question of what
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we can provide in an open setting. and then one is -- >> let me help you out. because i want to get down -- because your time is valuable. we'll just assume it's in the proper setting, proper format. what i was concerned about is the way it was said earlier. so if properly asked for, a fisa warrant, is there any reason why you would with hold that information, legally, that you can. >> there are situations where information related to a fisa application involves sensitive sources and methods that in my experience are not shared with committees of congress. >> okay. information that has formed the basis for a fisa warrant or legal memorandum regarding fbi's interpretation of fisa? >> well, the fbi's legal interpretation of fisa, unless it's asking for attorney/client privilege information, i would think would be something we could discuss with the committee. >> again, that's the concern i have. in looking at this, as the chairman said earlier, the jurisdiction of this committee on both sides. this has become one of the biggest issues we have here. and i have been here on
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different committees asking different agencies under republican administration now and a democratic administration is there's a belief that you can withhold from this oversight. and especially on fisa as the primary. so i will clear up the uncertainty. you might have the committee -- the committee has the authority to demand any docket or piece of information related to the fisa program. and there are many things we would like to see and be part of and you have indicated your willingness to do that. we need to continue that openness. otherwise you're going to continue to have the discussions and innuendo and everything else. because at the end of the day, this is a problem. but my last question has one concern. you made a mention earlier, and i thought it sort of interesting. you want mr. strut was not demoted. i'm not sure, frankly, and this is just a -- looking at this. how do you take the number two counter intelligent person who is on one of the highest-profile and special investigative committees that's been in a long-time in this town, and take him and put him in a random slot of human resources, not
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offensive to human resources. they've got a big job. but i don't think there was a pressing need for your number-two person here in counter intelligence, who was on the highest profile investigation going on this hill to all of a sudden say, you know, there's a big need in human resources. let's move him over here. i have a bigger concern that if it's some of the issues that have fallen out, why would you put him in human resources where he would have an oversight or even teaching responsibilities of what other agents would be a part of? i think you need to be careful, maybe just from an example part, of how we say that that wasn't a demotion or a transfer or something that did not have proper -- at least on the appearance -- of what happened in this case. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. moreno, for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. director, good to see you again. always a pleasure. i've got to tell you a little something. when i go to high school -- i wanted to be an fbi agent. so i got a job many, many years ago as a clerk at the department
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of justice. i was there for a short period of time until we found out that i was color blind, and would not make a very good agent if i couldn't tell the color of a car or the color of clothing. so i came back home and worked in a factory for a while. when i was a district attorney and u.s. attorney, i was threatened a couple of times. and the fbi and the u.s. marshals were right there to watch my back. more important, they were there to watch my family during these threats. and i will never forget that, and i greatly appreciate it. and i have the utmost faith in you and the bureau. we are part of the same honorable profession. you, jim comey and i worked very well together. we had a lot of good work done. and the agents and the staff of the middle district of pennsylvania, that would be
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harrisburg, scranton and williamsport, they made me look good. and i appreciate that. i know how proffers work. i've used them many times. i know how immunity works. i know what a 302 report is, and how that works. i'm not -- let's put it this way. rarely, in my humble opinion, should we be using special or independent counsel. we know there is a strict criteria for that. if there is a conflict. the reason is because i trust the 99.9% of our agents, the scientists and staff a bit more than i trust congress. and i know you will follow the fbi and doj procedures, regardless of what happened in the past. if you ever need anything from me, don't hesitate to call upon me. thank you very much for your service, and i yield back. >> thank you, congressman
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marino, i really enjoyed our time working in the department together. and i know you're committed to supporting law enforcement and it's very much appreciated. >> the chair thanks the gentlemen. and recognize the gentle woman from alabama, miss roby, for five minutes. >> i thought i heard the chairman say since i was last i could go as long as i wanted to. but i won't. i will stick to the five-minute rule. thank you for your time spent with us today and i appreciate you staying through the last series. have you read the usa liberty act, which was our bill to renew section 702 of the fisa amendments acts, which this committee approved 27-8, last month? >> i have -- i wouldn't say i reviewed it word for word, but i have read through it. >> okay. and will you commit to working with this committee to reauthorize section 782 in a way that protects americans' civil liberties, as well as our national security? >> i'm absolutely committed. in fact, eager to work with the committee to try to make sure
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that we get 702 reauthorized in a way that's not only constitutional, but that also protects our national security. obviously, as you've gathered from some of my responses, i have very clear and very specific views about what that is. and i have tried very hard in order to be responsive to this committee to really get into the weeds with the agents about how we actually use 702. i've actually sat at terminals with both kinds of agents, national security agents and criminal agents in this role as director, rolling up my sleeves, looking at the screen, watching what happens when they tap the keyboard. so i feel like i have a pretty good handle on it. and i just implore the congress to be really careful here, and i just worry that we're heading down a road that we will all regret. and i just hope lives aren't put at risk as a result. >> well, i mean, i agree with you, as well. but i just want to make sure that we can continue to work together. and i've heard you say that, so thank you. >> thank you.
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>> as you well know, we have an epidemic of human trafficking in this country, including the trafficking of children. and the internet plays a huge role in that. section 230 of the communications decency act shields some websites from legal liability regarding content posted by their users. i have serious concerns about this. under existing law, do you believe that legal action can be taken against websites that enable -- that's a key word -- enable this horrible behavior? >> well, as i mentioned in some of the earlier questions in different contexts, i now consider myself a reformed lawyer, former lawyer, almost. so i am -- i would have to look closely at the law to study the law in this area. i will say that there are situations where we have been able to bring cases against what i would call third parties for aiding and abetting some of the
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issues that we're talking about here. payment processors, things like that. so maybe there's a scenario where that kind of approach would work. certainly, i am deeply concerned, as i know you are, about human trafficking, especially with respect to kids. but not only kids. and as i mentioned in my opening, that's something that we are very aggressively pursuing. so i would be happy to look at -- and then have somebody sit down with you. >> i mean, we would welcome any of your thoughts or your recommendations on improving our laws. of course, we have several bills in front of the senate and the house today, where we are, again, trying to balance making sure that those that are enabling this type of horrific behavior are held liable. but at the same time, protecting innovation in the -- in the -- on the internet. and the use of the internet. and so -- but i think at the end of the day, what we all can agree on is that we've got to
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come up with a solution that works so that we can protect these precious young people and adults from being subjected to this type of abuse. so real quickly, given the decision by general services administration to scrap plans for the new fbi red quarteheadq would be interested in your thoughts as to where we go from here. while the obama administration requested $1.4 billion for the construction, congress appropriated $523 million, leaving an $882 million funding gap. so the total cost of the proposed headquarters was a hefty $2.5 billion. and i understand that the existing building is in a state of disrepair. however, i would be interested in your ideas about how to reduce costs. >> well, we are actively -- when i say went back to the drawing board, we're considering all
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options. we are working very hard with gsa, and i think there's a report due to another committee in late january about some of our progress. we're looking not just at different building permutations, but also funding permutation, which i think could be a change in the way we go about getting to a good answer to look at how we might pay for it first, and then see what flows from that as opposed to the other way around. i will tell you that as somebody who has now spent four months back in the building, i remember the last time i was in the building in 2005, the place seemed like it was not in good shape then, and i can assure you, it's not gotten better in the years that pass. so we do need to find a solution. i think the men and women of the fbi deserve a building that's in better shape than this one is. but i'm not ruling out any particular approach to that. but i do want to make sure we get an upgrade. >> if the gentle woman would yield, i completely agree with
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the director on that. we have some excellent real estate in virginia that would -- just across the river. >> my time has expired. but i just want to take the opportunity to tell you and your family thank you for your service to our country. but also all of the men and women who serve at the fbi. we really appreciate all the hard work that is done. so thank you for being here. >> thank you, and on behalf of the men and women of the bureau and their families, we appreciate it. . >> thank you, miss roby. director wray, thank you very much. i do have one additional question. have you personally seen any of the struck texts that we have been talking about here at length today? >> yes. >> can you characterize for us your impression of whether those do indeed constitute the kind of
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political -- going beyond just expressing opinion, but political activism that does not befit an fbi agent? >> mr. chairman, i really would prefer not to do that at this point. there is -- because of the investigation that's ongoing and it's also because of whatever might come out of that. i don't think it would be responsible for me to be offering an opinion at this stage. >> i respect that. let me just close by saying that i very much appreciate your testimony here today, not just that you're here for five hours, but that you have answered questions with a great deal of candor when you can. and i respect the fact that you can't answer all of our questions, particularly in a public setting, regarding some ongoing investigations. however, i think that members of the committee have made it very clear that there are deep
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concerns about what has been happening at the fbi. not under your watch. but now under your responsibility to repair that reputation of what i think truly think is the world's finest law enforcement organization. and that's going to take your testifying before committees and responding to various inquiries. but it's also going to take more than that. it's going to take some action. there are going to need to be some personnel changes. we have had a number of names in high-ranking positions at the bureau mentioned in passing here, without getting into tremendous details. again, the inspector general's investigation and the investigation being conducted by this committee will probably reveal more that needs to be done there. i also think that a renewed effort to be fully responsive and timely responsive to the
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inquiries of this committee and other committees, but particularly this committee, which has oversight responsibility, and in lieu of a second special counsel is conducting an investigation that if there were special counsel, we would not feel the need to engage in that. we need to have the information that we're requesting, and we need it promptly. and we have no intention of interfering with the investigation being conducted by the inspector general. in fact, we think his investigation is very important and very helpful, and we have been working with him in that regard. so those sorts of actions, and probably some changes in protocol regarding how agents conduct themselves and how they view some of the actions that have been revealed in the media and during the hearing today do not reflect well on the department and create in the minds of many americans a misimpression of how the overwhelming majority of fbi
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line agents and others conduct themselves. but because these people are in positions of great responsibility at the highest levels of the agency, i think that those who stay need to get some new protocols on how to represent the agency. some need to go, and all of this needs to be made available to the appropriate committees that are investigating. i thank you very much, sir. if there is anything you would like to add, we would welcome it. with that, the hearing is concluded. and -- oh, one more thing. we will be submitting additional questions in writing, based upon some of the questions that members submitted, and some issues that have come up that we think may be more suited to submitting questions in writing. we hope you will answer those promptly, as well. again, i thank you for your
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participation. without objection, all members will have five legislative days to submit additional written questions for the witness or additional materials for the record. and this hearing is adjourned. [ banging gavel ] noej getting testimony from fbi director, christopher wray at the witness stand since 10:00 a.m. this morning when the hearing began. if you missed any of the questioning, we'll have this in our video library. taking you live now to a house energy and commerce subcommittee hearing. and their hearing has been under way about the past 30, 40 minutes or


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