tv Representative Adam Schiff Says Intelligence Committee Has Reached No... CSPAN February 28, 2017 5:07am-5:47am EST
tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org. listen will live -- listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> now, adam schiff speaks to reporters about the committee of the 2016n election. he says they have reached no conclusion. this is 35 minutes. [indiscernible] >> thank you all for coming.
first of all, let me say that it is my hope that in the view chair as the chairman i will be doing the press meetings together. the chairman and i spoke about that and he conferred that we need to do these together whenever possible. in the future when we provide status reports we will do it in a joint way. if this investigation is to be thorough and objective and to have value, it has to be done in a bipartisan fashion. we are endeavoring certainly to do so as i will get into in a minute. i think in addition to the work we do we would be well-serve to have an independent commission looking at this as well. we plan to give periodic updates and do so in a joint manner. later today, we will reach final agreement on the scope of the issues we will be investigating and have already begun
investigating. the scope or include any collusion between russia and u.s. persons, including ours and to me of an affiliated with the trump campaign. that is agreed to be part of our investigation. i want to make something clear. that is, the committee has reached no conclusion on whether the trump campaign colluded with russia, russian officials, or any russian contacts. nor could we. we have called no witnesses thus far, obtained no documents on any counterintelligence investigation, and we have yet to receive any testimony from the fbi on the investigation of potential links between the trump campaign and russia. so we're not in any position to reach any conclusion and i think it's very important, having been assistant u.s. attorney for six years, you do not begin an investigation by stating what you believe to be the conclusion. we are looking at the report that the intelligence community put out which acknowledged not
only the role of russian media but also the hacking and the dumping of documents. we are not accepting even that report at face value. we are investigating the underlying raw intelligence to make sure the conclusions are substantiated by the raw intelligence. and the same should be true of every aspect whether it is on hacking, collusion, fbi response when it was learned the russians were in the computers of democratic institutions, the use of russian media, all of these things that we are investigating we should not accept any summary conclusion or form any premature conclusion about where the investigation will lead. i also want to say that in my opinion for the white house to
be seeking help from the intelligence leadership either at cia, fbi, or elsewhere, to knock down stories it does not like is completely inappropriate and threatens those agencies. if indeed conversations were had with officials about whether or not accusations were accurate, that is not appropriate. if the cia director was tasked to call reporters on background and not down stories, -- and knock down stories, that is even more inappropriate and threatens the independence of that agency and any investigation that agency may be undertaking in terms of counter intelligence. in my view, the predominant challenges we will have in conducting a credible
investigation are we have to make sure it remains bipartisan. it will lead little value if not. and we will need the cooperation of the fbi. we will need the fbi to share with us what they have found. what leads have not chased down. an investigation them done and not done. so we can evaluate whether they have done a comprehensive job. this is not unlike with the joint congressional inquiry did after 9/11. it did not simply assume the agencies have gotten it right but there was an independent investigation. that is what we need to do. i have yet to be convinced by the director of the fbi that we will have the kind of cooperation we need. we cannot become the fbi. we cannot send out our own investigators all over the globe. we may have limited capacity to do some of them but we cannot re-create everything the bureau may or may not have done. we will need their cooperation and whether or not we get that in as fulsome a manner as we need is yet to be determined. finally, one of the other
challenges we will have a doing a credible investigation is whether or not we have the staff to do it. we have an excellent staff, both majority and minority but it is a limited staff. of all of the national security agencies, we have a staff of about half of what they do. we have made an appeal to increase our staff and i'm hoping that will be approved by even so, we are very limited in resources. in my view, we out to be doing our investigation jointly with the senate intelligence committee. it makes little sense in my view that we bring in the same witnesses, do the same work in parallel. i think we could multiply our resources and capabilities jointly as they did the joint
inquiry and congress after 9/11. so those are a few thoughts on where we are. it again, just to summarize before i go to questions, we are going to be agreeing on our terms of reference. we've largely agreed already, we just need to put them down on paper. hopefully we can declassify any portion of that and share with you. we have reached no conclusion nor could we on issues of collusion because we are not called in a single witness or reviewed a single document as of yet and it is very important i think that we not prejudge the conclusions of our investigation or any conclusion that our intelligence agencies may or may not reach without doing our own independent analysis. yes. >> chairman nunez said earlier that based on the raving -- based on the briefings you
should've gotten with u.s. intelligence officials, he sees no evidence of collusion between campaign officials and the russians. you have gotten the same briefing he has. is he right? rep. schiff: first of all, we have not obtained any evidence so we cannot say if we have reached any conclusion about collusion. we need the fbi to come in and testify about what they have looked at, what they found, what they did not. what leads have yet to be investigating. we have none of that. at this point, we do not even have any of the documents underlying the assessment of russian hacking. we are having to send our people to review it and with limited staff resources that is more difficult. we are in the infancy of the investigation and it is premature to be making any conclusion. on the basis of conversations that the chair and i are having with intelligence officials, we cannot draw any conclusions nor should we.
we should not be prejudging where the facts lead. and if the white house is going to reach out to either our committee or the intelligence agencies every time they see a story they do not like and ask us or the intelligence community to push back on it, then we are of necessity going to be revealing classified information we should not because when you confirm or deny report, you tell something about the evidence received. in my view, i would urge members to not be talking about what we are concluding part not -- we are concluding or not concluding. it is find to be talking about where we are generally in the investigation, steps taken, more to be done, but i do not think we should be drawing any conclusions as far. >> but you think intelligence -- mayls made no more know more than they are telling
you right now? rep. schiff: what i am saying is i do not think anybody should prejudge at this point whether there were contacts between the trump campaign and russia either directly or indirectly. we as an intelligence committee doing an investigation do not know. we do not know the answer. the most that we have had our -- we have had are private conversations, the chair and i, with intelligence officials. that is not a substitute for an investigation so we should not be drawing conclusions. >> the report out last month in regards of an fbi official giving a statement with regard to the dnc's responsibility and your own security and that when the fbi tried to get access to -- theirvice -- , is that going to be looked into are not? rep. schiff: yes. we are to look into what was the intelligence and fbi response to the russian hacking. how soon did we know they were in the dnc, for example. what steps were taken? were they adequate? not adequate?
what needs to be done in the future? one of the seminal conclusions of the intelligence committee was that the russians would do this again. -- if the questions i have cannot share with you but the answers i've got board may get is, did the icy first perceive this as an intelligence gathering operation. does that account for the response of the icy or fbi? all of these questions have yet to be answered and many of it was not answered and the report that the ic put out. >> to follow your earlier point, it seems that congressman nunes has received an interpretation and told there was no they are there with -- there was no there there. are you concerned that some of the intelligence committee are
giving that message to the white house to congressman nunes? they are giving a read on intelligence that you have not seen yet? rep. schiff: my concern is that our committee not reach any conclusions on the basis of essentially conversations with some of the intelligence community leaders in response to a newspaper article. that is not how we should be conducting an investigation. obviously, you look at this story which has become such a central focus of things, and we are not in a position to discuss in detail more should we how the russians operate. how they seek to exert their info covertly.
whether it is through third-party, business people, directly comment electronically, through encryption. there is a whole host of issues to be investigated so we understand the totality of what the russians at did. i do not think the fbi, cia, embers of our committee or others should be reaching any conclusions. we certainly should not, not if we are doing a real investigation of this. we have agreed that we need to investigate this issue of collusion. we are not prepared to draw any conclusions. if there gets to be a point where i do not feel i can do my work, i will certainly be very public about it. but i still am going to do everything i can to conduct this investigation as long as it is confined to our committee on the house side hand our committee alone, i will do everything i can to make it thorough and objective. >> so there is not so much attention on just one story, cnn
reporting was communications between trump advisors. trying to get any russians known to the u.s. intelligence. i have the same question of , has thatn nunes possibility been investigated or answered? rep. schiff: as part of our committee investigation, we have not investigated that yet. have not investigated yet. we should not prejudge it. any conversations that the individual members of the gang of eight have is not the conclusion of our committee. not the endpoint of the investigation. they can't be. just as any other credible investigation, when you are just in the beginning stages, you do not reach conclusions on one of
the key issues. so all i can tell you is from view,mmittee's point of no documents, no witnesses and it has not given any testimony by the fbi what they investigated, there is no basis to draw a conclusion one way or the other. i do not think conversations with intelligence leaders are a --stitute for doing their doing a thorough investigation. >> are you concerned that the chairman in any way may have compromised the investigation by downplaying any sort of contact between the russian government and the trump campaign. are you concerned he may have compromised this investigation? >> i am concerned that the fbi engaging in conversations about the white house or potential ongoing investigation, if the cia was brought in and pushed down that report, that threatens the integrity of what they are doing.
the white house can reach out anytime they want to members of the republican house and senate or our committee. either party. they have every right to do that but i would urge the members of the committee, if they are reached out on these subject of the investigation, they should politely declined because obviously, when of the key issues is whether people associated with the administrative committee may have colluded with the russians have colluded with the russians and on that subject there is a profound potential template of interest so i don't think members of our committee should be discussing that with the administration. the chairman and i have had an important working relationship that we both want to keep intact. i have expressed concern about these issues. i will continue to do so whenever i feel it important to do so but i still want to do
everything in my power to make sure we do a thorough and objective investigation and if i get to the point where i conclude that is not possible i will be vocal about it that at -- vocal about it, but at this point, i think the members of our committee want this to be credible and want this to be thorough and that is what we are going to try to achieve. >> you said you set the scope of your investigation. will it include investigating the leak that led to these news stories or not? rep. schiff: it will include leaks. i think as a practical matter, it may be difficult to carry that investigation, that element of the investigation to completion to talk about what information they had at what
they shared it was so i think there are limitations that the white house may put on our ability to bring people into the foreign intelligence committee but we will be looking at that. i do think in the broader scheme of things and obviously there is a difference of opinion between i, as well asnd many members of the committee, while leaks are an issue and i don't approve of the leaks during the clinton administration or during this investigation, would hate to lose sight of what is at stake here. a lot of what the president says on the subject is designed to distract attention from the serious issues. in my view, it is this, we are engaged in a desperate battle of
ideas with russia right now and i do not think it is hyperbolic to say that the success of liberal democracy around the world will depend on how this turns out. they are not only interfering in our political trusses but also elsewhere. they use methods including blackmail, extortion, fake news, hacking, dumping, forging of documents, and if we are going to knock your leg ourselves against further russian interference in our elections, we need to know exactly what they have done. and so that context is enormously important and should
not get lost. the reason why the conversations with michael flynn are so significant is that they involve potentially an administration official or soon-to-be undermined a sanctions on the very forces. not something to be viewed in isolation. it went right to the heart of the russian interference and democrat interference. >> can i just say commies that you have to bring in white house people to testify and chairman nunes said it was compared to mccarthyism and said we are not going to do this to citizens. do you buy that? rep. schiff: i strongly disagree with those comments. we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of this. >> would you want to call them to testify? the three americans listed in the new york times report? rep. schiff: i believe michael flynn needs to testify and i think we've seen bipartisan support for that. with respect to mr. flynn, he deceived the vice president of the united states. the vice president of the united states then misled the country
and that is a serious business. we know some of the history involving mr. flynn and rt and being paid to attend this conference with vladimir putin. i think he is certainly a witness we're going to want to bring in before the committee. in terms of the others, i think we follow the evidence where it leads. i would like to know what the fbi has investigated on this if anything. what they have concluded and what would the basis be in bringing these witnesses or any others before the committee. i do not think at this stage we ought to exclude anyone. or any issue. and, at this point in the investigation we are still in the face of gathering documents or trying to get personal custody of the documents. we are also in the process of
developing some preliminary witness lists on the baskets of issues. we need to follow the evidence wherever it leads and if it leads to those persons we will want to subpoena them to come in. >> why hasn't the fbi given us the information you and have you asked the senate if they want to do a joint investigation that go -- joint investigation? >> i have certainly raised the issue of joint investigations and at this point, while nobody has explicitly ruled it out, there may be a few reasons for that. it was a formula that worked very well post 9/11 and given the tremendous mismatch in and -- and investigative resources and vis-a-vis the size of the issues here, because we still have a day job in the intelligence committee of overseeing these massive industries, it would help if we did this jointly.
>> has the fbi been dragging their feet on giving you the investigation. you said you have not gotten anything, you have asked. rep. schiff: we are requesting the director brief our full committee. certainly, the chairman and i have had preliminary discussions with the director. beyond that, we need to get a full debriefing on everything and what has been investigated. at this point i am not clear we're going to get that. i do not have the assurances i would like to have from the bureau and i will give you a sense of why. in an ordinary course of events, the bureau does not talk about pending investigations. or closed investigations. with respect to the clinton investigation, that policy was departed from and violated in the extreme as we got closer to the election. i think it is unsupportable to take a position. we can talk about that we cannot not talk about other investigations.
at the same time, there is a strong institutional reluctance to discuss ongoing investigations not only republican but -- not only publicly but even with congress. we have a bipartisan investigation into these to by thes -- agree house and senate, has the support of leadership in the house and senate and if we are going to take that responsibility, the fbi is going to have to be folsom and their investigation. i have not gotten my commitment yet from the director and we need that commitment to do our work. >> chairman nunes said if it
turns out that flynn with this discussion with the russian ambassador, said [indiscernible] -- i wonder what your take is on that? and if that is the stance of the chairman, how this affects this going forward? rep. schiff: my perspective is this. it goes back to the context of which michael flynn was talking to the russian ambassador. russia has just hacked into our elections. they have dumped information that was helpful to the now-president of the united states and in the time prior to the new administration coming into office, the obama administration levied sanctions against the russians. then you have conversations
between michael flynn and the russian ambassador. what was the subject of those conversations? i have had a briefing. i have not seen any transcripts yet. i would like whatever transcripts exist to be given to the american public if the american public has been misled about the conversation. the significance of that conversation is, if it was of a significance to a shore or reassure the russians that they did not need to respond because the incoming administration what take care of it, then you had the incoming administration working over the current administration and that is serious business. when you add that national security adviser flynn was
dishonest about the nature of those conversations, that shows i would say as a former prosecutor, some consciousness of wrongdoing. if there was nothing to be concerned about, then why not be open and honest about the course of those conversations? why did mike pence go out on tv and find the need to reassure the country they had not been engaged in undermining the sanctions imposed by president obama? the final point i would make that i would find deeply disturbing is that it is bad enough that mike flynn wasn't truthful the vice president. it is worse that the vice president then unknowingly misled the american people. the worst part is that the president was aware of this and did not want me people but only cared later when it became public. >> they have also raised the concern that maybe it would be problematic because they were illegally released. rep. schiff: whatever they find
out, that is one thing. but nothing in that should prevent the congress from finding out exactly what was said in that conversation and again, i cannot go into any of the specifics about how that conversation may or may not have been recorded, but i would not leap to any conclusion that was a legality -- ille gality involved on behalf of the intelligence agencies but again whether it was leaked or not leaked should not inhibit us from doing the necessary investigation we have to do. this gentleman, and then you. >> earlier you said the commission could not do the work of the fbi. are you investigating the fbi 's investigation? and if that is the case why would you not wait until they
finish this investigation? >> first of all, we cannot do everything the fbi is doing because we do not have the resources, and frankly we should not try to do everything the fbi has done. when we look at the analysis of the russian hacking, we will not be starting from scratch. we will be looking at the conclusions they reached and the raw intelligence. trying to decide if each conclusion may received, were they supported by actual intelligence. we will go beyond that. why should we wait? we have our own responsibility to the public and what impact it had and who was involved. we ought to conduct our investigation if the fbi is still doing one contemporaneous with what they are doing, but i do not think we can afford to say, one, i do not think we can
afford to say, we will simply wait until you have concluded but i think we should, as a way of making our own investigation, find out what has already been done. >> aren't you concerned that if there is an ongoing investigation criminal in nature, that it could potentially influence the serious work of the law ?nforcement not to say you should do oversight of it, but shouldn't lead changed -- should lead change? isn't that the same problem that comey ran into? rep. schiff: if i were in the bureau right now, the concern i would have from the perspective is, is congress going to be leaking information and saying things that will inhibit our
ability to do our investigation? or bring in witnesses that contradict what witnesses have already told us? i understand that. congress can help by not talking about the facts as we are learning them. the fbi has a responsibility for criminal justice purposes. we have responsibility of determining how we protect our democracy and defend our country. those have to be done contemporaneously. i am sure that is part of the concern driving the fbi and we need to be mindful of it. we had that same dilemma when the house is involved in ethics issues. and, in some cases, those investigations give the fbi more time to finish work. here, the congress cannot afford to wait.
>> you said that the committee does not have as much national security committee to help. doesn't that handicap the investigation from the start given the complexity of the matter? what have been the stated reasons why the committee will not help to do this thing? rep. schiff: those are handicaps to us, the answer is yes. we're trying to remedy that in part and as mentioned, the chair and i have asked for more resources. we would need devs resources even in the absence of this investigation because when you consider the size of the agencies we oversee and the level of our stuff to begin
with, it is very paltry by comparison to other national security committees. so even in the absence of investigation we would need more resources and with this investigation added on it is more challenging which is why i feel it would be much more efficient for us to be working jointly with the senate. in terms of the senate perspective, i would have to imagine one of the concerns and i am just speculating here, that the senate may have is that if they feel it is receding in a bipartisan ration and are concerned maybe the house is not, they may have concerns about combining the two. i would hope the investigations can be done in a bipartisan way and getting back to your question earlier, we are going to be bringing in a lot of the same witnesses. for those who are in the ic doing foreign intelligence, it
is not as if the day job has gone away. they only have so many resources to do counterintelligence and they are going to be spending a lot of resources coming in to brief us. it would make their job a bit easier if we did it jointly rather than separately. >> you said u.n. chairman new -- he said you and chairman nunez and the officials have reached a conclusion there is nothing there but you want to pursue. what is it that makes you want to pursue an investigation, especially on the issue of contacts. are you moving based on the news reports or something else? rep. schiff: i cannot go into the contents of any discussions i have had with the ic. but the point is this, this is a committee investigation, not an individual investigation done by
myself or the chair or senator burr. these are committee investigations and thus far the committee has heard no witnesses, received no documents in-house and i don't not of it is the same on the senate side but we are still trying to get possession of documents even. so it is well immature to make any conclusions, and on the basis of my discussions i have not prepared to draw any conclusion on the veracity of this. we need to do the investigation we were charged to do. it ought to be thorough and we ought to follow the evidence where it leads and make sure the words are more than rhetoric. i have never begun an investigation since i was u.s. attorney starting out by announcing the conclusion and this is one of those
-- and this is one of the most serious allegations. there are a lot of information that have been made public. the agency has said little or nothing on any other issues of collusion. that is one of the most important issues. i do not think we should rush to conclusion. >> are you saying there is something there that go -- something there? i'm saying we should not jump to any conclusions. in terms of russian collusion with u.s. persons, we do not have any information as a committee to form any judgment at this point. if you look back at the 9/11 commission and the joint congressional inquiry, they did not simply accept a resolution. they did an investigation and that is what we to do.
last question. >> i wanted to get a clarification. when was the invitation for the fbi director [indiscernible] rep. schiff: well, i have, along with leader pelosi, requested that the gang of eight be fully briefed in the wake of the flynn situation. the chair and i are in the process of making a request that he come and meet. frankly, it is been a push of mine all along that we have the fbi come and provide us with the nature of the investigation.
i think that ought to be done as a formal matter. not just in a runoff matter what the director. -- one off meeting with the director. so the discussion with the director is just the opening of dialogue, frankly, on how the investigation is going to proceed. yes, think we will be getting some information but i do not view the meeting with the director as important as a first start to be at all this positive ive.isposit it should just be an outline to get what we need. thank you very much. >> president trump delivers his first address to a joint session
of congress tonight. we'll have the democratic response from the former kentucky governor. our coverage begins with a previous show at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span, followed by the resident speech at 9:00. -- followed by the president's speech at 9:00. nancy pelosi and charles schumer calls for an independent prosecutor to investigate potential contact between russia and the trump campaign. they spoke at the national is club -- at the national press .lub this is an hour in 10 minutes. >> thank you very much and congratulations to you for your election as president of the historic national press club. thank you for arranging this. it is an honor to be here with chuck schumer.