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tv   News Comey Senate Testimony  FOX Business  June 8, 2017 10:00am-12:43pm EDT

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reasons. i do. stuart: all right. now we are about to take you live to the hearing room you can see on your screens. that is on capitol hill. former fbi chief james comey will testify before the senate intelligence committee literally moments from now. we know what he will say, that president trump asked him for his loyalty, to quote, let go the investigation into general michael flynn. the democrats will try to show obstruction of justice. they may make comparisons to watergate. you may hear the word impeachment. it is unlikely james comey will provide evidence for it. legal experts generally agree poor judgment on the part of the president but he did not break the law. he is running the government like he ran his business, that is giving him politicalç troub. stand by for drama. stay there, please. watch history unfold because this is "varney & company."
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with us gregg jarrett. elizabeth macdonald, former u.s. attorney matt whitaker, let's not forget liz peek sitting next to me here in new york. liz to you, is there any bombshell you could see coming at that hearing, they're about to start, any bombshell that you can forehe see would hurt the market? because our viewers are interested in the market. liz: if james comey said, i lost my job, that is obstruction of justice, yes, i felt threatened by the president. stuart: that is it? >> he can't say that, tell you what. there is federal statute that misprison of felony. means if you don't notify your superiors at department of justice somebody attempted to obstruct, justice, then you mr. comey are committing a crime. it is equivalent accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting a felon. comey put himself in a box here. he does not dare say i ever
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thought this rose to the level of the specific intent of obstruction of justice. liz: you're saying james comey should have told his superiors -- >> absolutely. liz: that is president is trying to obstruct our investigation, at that time, at the time -- >> he has to say here, i think he is going to dodge the question, but in the end he can not say this was obstruction of justice because he would be incriminating himself in felony. stuart: matt whitaker, still with us, former u.s. attorney, would you comment on that please? is there a bombshell which comey could reveal which would hurt the market? >> that issue that you're just talking about. i think jim comey at the time did not believe that the president was obstructing justice and quite frankly special counsel bob mueller, who is allowing jim comey to testify today, could potentially in any case of obstruction be, you know, bob mueller's key witness, he is already allowed him to speak about this.
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so i don't think, i think analysis is correct. this is a political situation where the people will hear both sides of a political case but the legal case is just not there. stuart: james comey, by the way just walked into the hearing room. he is a very tall. the man is well over six feet six i think. 6'8", i believe. he towers about those who stand around him. he is posing for photographers now. they're about to gavel this thing into order and we'll get underway. we understand president trump will be watching proceedings in the white house dining room. we may -- there is some possibility that president trump will tweet, go to his twitter account and tweet during the comey hearings and comment on the comey hearings. liz. liz: the legal seem and senior aides will be watching the comey testimony with the president from the president's personal dining room near the oval
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office. we don't know who these individuals are. we don't know, if you will be as you point out adult supervision from president's tweets from any individuals watching the hearing with him. stuart: here is what is possible here. here is how to elevate the status of thee hearings. it is possible the president will tweet about the hearings as they're going on. it is also possible if he does that, some members of the committee, republicans, perhaps will pick up on these tweets, will then ask james comey a question, prompted by the president of the united states. >> they absolutely will. stuart: not out of the question. >> which if i'm lawyer for the president i would say, don't tweet. stuart: you have to stay tuned to this thing because the drama is about to unfold. it is starting now. listen in. here we go. >> over the years. i'm looking forward to a very open and candid discussion here today. i would like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 p.m. today. i ask that you reserve for that
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venue any questions that might get into classified information. the director has been very gracious with his time but the vice chairman and i have worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on "the hill." so we will do everything we can to meet that agreement. the senate celebrity committee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the united states senate and the american people that the he intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission and keep america safe. part of our mission, beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate russian interference in the 2016 u.s. elections. the committee's work continues. this hearing represents part of that effort. allegations have been swirling in the press for the last
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several weeks and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. yesterday i read with interest your statement for the record and i think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. it clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation, and your state of mind. i very much appreciate your candor and i think it is helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible russian interference in the 2016 elections. your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president. from your vantage point, and outline as strained relationship. the american people need to hear your side of the story just as they need to hear the president's descriptions of events. these interactions also highlight the importance of the committee's on going investigation. our experienced staff is
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interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country's possession. we will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation, and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. there are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that i hope you will clear up for the american people today. did the president's request for loyalty, your impression, that, that the one-on-one dinner of january 27th was an, i quote, at least in part an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or his march 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of russian investigation in any way, alter your approach or the fbi's investigation into general flynn, or the broader
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investigation into russia and possible links to the campaign. your opinion did potential russian efforts to establish links with individuals in the trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion, or was it a counterintelligence concern? there has been a significant public speculation about your decision-making related to the clinton email investigation. why did you decide publicly to, to publicly announce the fbi's recommendations that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. the american people need to understand the facts behind your action. this committee is uniquely suited to investigate russia's interference in the 2016 elections. we also have a unified he, bipartisan approach to what is a highly-charged partisan issue. russian activities during 2016
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election may have been aimed at one party's candidate but as i my colleague senator rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020, it could be aimed at any one at home or abroad. my colleague, senator warner, and i have worked, have worked to stay in lockstep on this investigation. we've had our differences on approach at times but i have constantly stressed that we need to be a team, and i think senator warner agrees with me. we must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. it is too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. with that, again i welcome you, director, and i turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman. let me start by again absolutely thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they have taken on this task. mr. comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part
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of this committee's investigation into russia. i realize that this hearing has been obviously the focus fç a lot of washington in the last few days. but the truth is many americans who may be tuning in today probably haven't focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. so i would like to briefly describe, at least from this senator's standpoint, what we already know, and what we're still investigating. to be clear this investigation is not about relitigating the election. it is not about who won or lost, sure as heck not about democrats versus republicans. we're here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. not by guns or missiles but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important
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democratic process, our presidential election. russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of disinformation, all ultimately aimed at sewing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership, and ultimately in ourselves. that's not just this senator's opinion. it is the unanimous determination of the entire u.s. he intelligence community. we must find out the full story, what the russians did, and candidly as some other colleagues have mentioned, why they were so successful. more importantly we must determine thes in steps to take to take to protect our democracy to insure they can't do it again. the chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020. in my home state of virginia, we have elections this year in
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2017. simply put, we can not let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. now, mr. comey, let me say at the outset we haven't always agreed on every issue. in fact i have occasionally questioned some of the actions you've taken but i have never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. you've been a straight-shooter with this committee and have been willing to spike truth to power, even at the rick of your own career which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the russians were ever involved, and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any russians. we know that is just not the
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truth. numerous trump associates had undisclosed contacts with russians before and after the election, including the president's attorney general, his former national security advisor, and his current senior advisor, mr. kushner. that doesn't even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisors who have also been this massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. manafort, forced to step down over ties to russian-backed entities. the national security advisor, general flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the russians. we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent. there is a a lot to investigate. enough in fact that then director comey publicly
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acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. as director of the fbi mr. comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. which might explain why you're sitting now as a private citizen. what we didn't know, was that the at the same time this investigation was proceeding the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-opt the director of the fbi. the testimony that mr. comey has submitted for today's hearing is very disturbing. for example, on january 27th, after summoning director comey to dinner the president appears to have threatened the director's job while telling him quote, i need loyalty, i expect loyalty. at a later meeting, on february 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the oval office so that he could privately ask director
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comey, again, quote to see his way to clear to letting flynn go. that is a statement that director comey interpreted as a request to, that he drop the investigation connected to general flynn's false statements of think about it. the president of the united states asking the fbi director to drop an ongoing investigation. and after that, the president called the fbi director on two additional occasions, march 30th, and april 11th and asked him again, quote, to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. now director comey denied each of these improper requests. the loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the russian investigation. of course after his he refusals, director comey was fired. the initial explanation for the
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firing didn't pass any smell test. somehow director comey was fired because he didn't treat hillary clinton appropriately. of course that explanation lasted about a day because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about russia when he decided to fire director comey. shockingly, reports suggest that the president's admitted as much in an oval office meeting with the russians the day after director comey was fired. disparaging our country's top law enforcement official is a quote, unquote, nutjob. the president allegedly suggested that his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about russia. this is not happening in isolation. at the same time that the president was engaged in these efforts with director comey, he was also at least allegedly
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asking senior leaders of the intelligence community todown he play the russian investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday, we had dni director coats, and nsa director admiral religions who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. they expressed their opinions but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. they did not take advantage of that opportunity. my belief, that is not how the president of the united states should behave. regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the russia links, director comey's firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. again at the outset i've seen first-hand how seriously every member of this committee is taking its work. i'm proud of the committee's efforts so far. let me be clear, this is not a
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pitch hunt. this is not fake news. it is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away anytime soon. so, mr. comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. i look forward to that testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, vice chairman. the director, as discussed, when you agreed to appear before the committee, it would be under oath. i would ask you to please stand. raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? please be seated. director comey, you're now under oath. and i would just note to members, you will be recognized by senority for a period up to seven minutes, and again it is intent to move to a closed session no later than one p.m. with that, director comey, you are recognized.
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you have the floor for as long as you might need. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member, warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. i have submitted my statement for the record. i will not repeat it here this morning. i would offer very brief introductory remarks. then i would welcome your questions. when i was appointed fbi director in 2013, i understood that i served at pleasure of the president. even though i was appointed toa 10-year term it, which congress created in order to underscore the importance of the fbi being outside of politics and independent, i understood that i could be fired by a president for any reason or or for no reason at all. on may the 9th, when i learned that i had been fired, for that reason i immediately came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the shifting explanations confused me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the
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president and i had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me i was doing a great job and he hoped i would stay. i had repeatedly assured him i did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. he told me repeatedly talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general and had learned i was doing a great job and i was extremely well-liked by the fbi workforce. so it confused me when i saw on television the president saying, that he actually fired me because of the russia investigation, and learned again from the media he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the russian investigation. i was also confused by the initial explanation offered publicly, that i was fired because of the decisions i had made during the election year.
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that didn't make sense to me for a whole bun of reasons including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions had to be made. that didn't make any sense to me. although the law required no reason at all to fire an fbi director, the administration then chose to defame me and mower importantly the fbi, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly-led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi workforce had to hear them and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. i worked every day the at fbi to help make that great organization better. and i say help, because i did nothing alone at the fbi. there are no indispensable people at the fbi. the organization's great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide. the fib by will be fine without
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me. the fbi's mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the american people and uphold the constitution of the united states. i will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. i have a message before i close for the, my former colleagues at the fbi, but first i want the american people to know this truth. the fbi is honest, the fbi is strong, and the fbi is and always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues, if i may, i am so sorry i didn't get the chance to say good-bye to you properly. it was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the fbi family. i will miss it for the rest of my life. thank you for standing watch, thank you for doing so much god
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for this country. do that good as long as ever you can. senators, i look forward to your questions. >> director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee. yesterday and made public to public to the american people. the chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes. vice-chair for 12 minutes based upon the agreement we have. director, did the special counsel's office review and or edit your written testimony? >> no. >> do you any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections? >> known. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the intrusions in the dnc and the d triple c systems, subsequents leaks of that information. >> no, no doubt. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was the behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?
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>> no. >> do you have any doubt that officials of the russian government were fully aware of these activities? >> no doubt. >> are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 election presidential election were altered? >> i'm confident. by, when i left as director i had seen no indication of that whatsoever. >> director comey, did the president at anytime ask you to stop the fbi investigation into russian involvement in the 2016 u.s. elections? >> not to my understanding, no. >> did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the russian investigation? >> no. >> director, when the president requested that you, and i quote, let flynn go, general flynn had an unreported contact with the
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russians, which is an offense, and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his fbi testimony. in your estimation was general flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy, and in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for mike flynn to save face, given he had already been fired? >> general flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. there was an open fbi criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts and the contacts themselves. so that was my assessment at the time. i don't think it is for me to say whether the conversation i had with the president was an effort to obstruct. i took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that is conclusion the special counsel will work towards to try to understand what the intention was there, and whether that is
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an offense. >> director, is it possible as part of this fbi investigation, the fbi could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion or coordination with russians? >> sure. >> so, there could be something that just fit as criminal aspect of to this that doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? >> correct. in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director comey, you had been criticized publicly for the decision to present your findings on the email investigation directly to the american people. have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the american people? >> honestly no. i mean it caused a whole lot of personal pain for me, but as i
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look back, given what i knew at the time, even what i learned since, i think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the fbi. >> in the public domain is this question of the steel dossier. a document that has been around now for over a year. i'm not sure when the fbi first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. at the time of your departure from the fbi, was the fbi able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document? >> mr. chairman, i don't think that is a question i can answer in a open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation. >> director, the term we hear
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most often is collusion. when people are describing possible links between americans and russian government entities rooted to the interference in our election. would you say that it's normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration? >> yes. >> at what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies? >> difficult to say in the abstract. it depends upon the context, whether there is an effort to keep it covert and what the nature of the request of the american made by the foreign government are. it's a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts. >> at what point would thatç recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country? >> again, difficult to answer in the abstract but when a foreign power is using a especiallily coercion or some sort of pressure to co-opt an american,
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especially a government official to act on its behalf, that is a serious concern for the fbi and at the heart of the fbi's counterintelligence mission. >> if you have a 36 page document of specific claims that are out there, the fbi would have to, for counterintelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail? would that be an accurate statement? >> yes. if the fbi receives a credible allegation that there is some effort to co-opt, coerce, direct, employ covertly an american on behalf of the foreign power that's the basis on which a counterintelligence investigation is opened. >> and when you read the dossier, what was your reaction giverren it was 100% directed at
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president-elect? >> not a question i can answer in open session, mr. chairman. >> when did you become aware of the cyber intrusion? >> the first cyber, there is all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. first russian connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> in that time frame there were more than the dnc and dccc that were targets? >> correct. there was a massive effort to target government and non-governmental and near governmental agencies like non-profit. >> what would be the estimate how many entities out there that the russians specifically targeted in that time frame? >> it is hundreds. i suppose it could be more than a thousand but its at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated? >> i'm not sure exactly. i think either late '15 or early '16. >> did you you as director of
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the fbi have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed? >> yes. >> and share with us if you will, what actions they took. >> well the fbi had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims. that is what we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spearfishing campaign. so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing. there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of '15, '16. throughout '116 the administration was figuring out how to respond to the intrusion activity they say. >> in the fbi, unlike other cases you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data they had collected? >> in the case of the dnc and he you i believe the dccc, i'm sure
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the dnc, we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high-class entity that had done the work but we didn't get direct access. >> but no content? >> correct. >> isn't content an important part of forensics from a counterintelligence stand to point? >> it is although briefed to me who were my folks at time, they had gotten information from the private party they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016. >> let me go back, if i can very briefly. to the decision to the publicly go out with your results on the email. was your decision influenced by the attorney general's tarmac meeting with the former president, bill clinton? >> yes.
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in a ultimately conclusive way. that was the thing that capped it for me, i had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation which meant both the fbi and the justice department. >> were there other things that contributed to that that you can describe in an open session? >> there were other things that contributed to that. one significant item i can't. i know the committee's been briefed on, there have been public accounts of it which are nonsense, i understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. probably own other consideration i can talk in open setting, at one point the torn general directed me not to call it an investigation, instead call it a matter which confused me and concerned me. that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude i have to step away from the department if we will close this case credibly. >> director, my last question, you're not only a seasoned
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prosecutor, you have led the fbi for years. you understand the investigative process. you have worked with this committee closely and we're grateful to you because i think we've, we've mutually built trust in what your organization does and what we do. is there any doubt in your mind that this committee can carry out its oversight role in the 2016 russian involvement in the elections in parallel with the now special counsel that has been set up? >> no, no doubt. it can be done. it requires lots of conversations but bob mueller is one of this country's great, great pros. i'm sure you can work it out with him to run it in parallel. >> i want to thank you you once again. i want to turn to the vice chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. again, director comey thank you for your service. your comments to your fbi family
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i know they were heart-felt, know that even though there some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation, had acting director mccabe in public testimony a few weeks back and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm that the vast majority of the fbi community had great trust in your leadership and obviously trust in your integrity. i want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony. let's start with the january 6th meeting in trump tower. where you went up with a series of officials to brief the president-elect on the russian investigation. my understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him on again, quote, some personally-sensitive aspects of the information you relayed. now you said after that briefing, you felt compelled to document that conversation that youactually started documenting it as soon as you got into the
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car. now you have had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the fbi. you worked on presidents of both parties. what was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record? >> a combination of things. i think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person i was interacting with. circumstances, first, i was alone with the president of the united states or the president-elect, soon to be president. the subject matter i was talking about matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and relate to the president-elect personally. then the nature of the person. honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting. so i thought it really important to document. that combination of things i never experienced before. but it led me to believe i got to write it down and got to write it down in a very detailed way. >> i think that is a very important statement you just
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made. my understanding is, that then, again, unlike your dealings with president of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos because they might need to be relied on at some future date? >> sure. i created records after conversations, i think i did it after each of our nine conversations. if i didn't, i did it for near aall of them especially ones that were substantive. i knew there would come a day i need a record to defend not just myself but the fbi, our integrity as an institution and independence of the having tiff function. that is what made this so difficult it, was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and the particular person. >> so in all your experience, this was the onlyç president tt you felt like in every meeting you needed to document because
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at some point, using your words he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting? >> that's right, senator. and i, as i said in my written testimony, as fbi director, i interacted with president obama. spoke only twice in three years, and didn't document it. when i was deputy attorney general i had one one on one meeting with president bush about very important and difficult national security matter. i didn't write a memo documenting that conversation either. sent a quick email to my staff to let them know something going on but i didn't feel with president bush the need to document it in that way. because of combination of those factors just wasn't present with either president bush or president obama. >> i think that is very significant. i think others will probably question that. now, chairman and i requested those memos. it is our hope that the fbi will get this committee access to those memos. again we can read that contemporaneous rendition so
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that we've got your side of the story. now i know members have said, press have said, that, if you were, a great deal has been made whether the president you were asked, in effect indicate whether the president was subject of any investigation, and my understanding is prior to your meeting on january 6, you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then president-elect trump that the fbi was not investigating him personally. now, i understand your leadership he team agreed with that but that was unanimous decision? was there any debate about that? >> it wasn't unanimous. one of the members of the leadership team had a view although it was technically true, we did not have a counterintelligence file, case open on then president-elect trump, his concern was because we're looking at the potential, again that is the subject of the investigation, coordination
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between the campaign and russia, because it was president trump, president-elect trump's campaign, this person's view was inevitably his behavior, his conduct, will fall within the scope of that work. and so he was reluctant to make the statement that i made. i disagreed. i thought it was fair to say what was literally true. there is not a counterintelligence investigation of mr. trump. and i decided in the moment to say it, given the nature of our conversation. >> at that moment in time. did you ever revisit that as, in these subsequent sessions? >> with the fbi leadership team? sure. and the leader had that view, it didn't change. his view was still it was probably, although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch, obviously it would touch the campaign and person at the head of campaign would be candidate so that was his view throughout.
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>> let me move to the january 2th dinner, where you said, quote, the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as fbi director. he also indicated, lots of people, again your words, wanted the job. you go on to say that the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to quote, have you ask him for your job and create some sort of a quote, unquote patronage relationship. the president's, seems from, my reading of your memo to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing in your job over your head in a fairly direct way. what was your impression, and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship? >> my impression, again my impression, i could always be wrong but my common sense told me what was going on, either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn't, you have already asked comey to stay, and you didn't get
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anything for it. that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as i said, what was odd about that we already talked twice about it at that point and he had said, i very much hope you will stay. i hope you will stay. in fact i just remember sitting here a third one, you see picture of me walking across the blue room, what the president whispered in my ear was i really look forward to working with you. after those encounters -- >> that was a few days before your firing. >> sunday before the inauguration. next friday i have dinner and president begins wanting to talk about my job. so i'm sitting there thinking, wait a minute, three times you already asked me to stay, talked about me staying. my common sense, i could be wrong, my common sense what is going on here he is looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> again, we all understand. i was governor. i had people work for me but this constant requests, again,
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quoting you, him saying that he, in spite, explaining your independence, he kept coming back i need loyalty, i expect loyalty. had you ever had any of those kind of requests before from anyone else you worked for in the government? >> no. and what made me uneasy, i'm at that point the director of the fbi. the reason congress created a 10-year term so that the director is not feeling as if they're serving at the, with political loyalty owed to any particular person. the statue of justice has a blindfold on. you're not supposed to peek out to see whether your patron is pleased or not what you're doing. it should be about the facts and law. that is why i became fbi director, to be in that kind of position. that is why i was so uneasy. >> let me move on, my time is running out. february 14th, seems a bit strange, you were in a meeting and your direct superior, the
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attorney general was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave including the attorney general to leave before he brought up the matter of general flynn. what was your impression of that type of action? had you ever seen anything like that before? >> no. my impression was something big is about to happen. i need to remember every single word that is spoken, and, again, i could be wrong. i'm 56 years old. i've been, seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well, but i think he picked up on the same thing. so i knew something was about to happen that i needed to pay very close attention to. >> i found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this february 14th pull aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. if you affirmatively made the
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decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, to be able to be cleared in a way to be shared with the american people? >> well i remember thinking this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. i need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangles them up. it is hard -- >> amen. >> it is hard to share it with an investigative team. you have to be very careful how you handle it for good reason. so my thinking was if i write it in such a way i don't include anything that would trigger classification, that will make it easier for us to discuss within the fbi and the government and, to hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us. >> again, it is our hope, particularly since you pretty knowledgeable guy, you wrote this in a way was unclassified, this committee will get access
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to that unclassified document. i think it would be very important to our investigation. let me just ask this in closing. how many ongoing investigations at anytime does the fbi have? >> tens of thousands. >> tens of thousands. did the president ever ask about any other, on going investigation? >> no. >> did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation? >> no. >> i think again, this speaks volumes. this doesn't even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. i know other members will get to that. but i really appreciate your testimony and appreciate your service to our nation. >> thank you, senator warner. i just, i'm sitting here going through my contact with him. i had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our, an on going intelligence investigation.
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professional. >> he didn't ask you to take any specific action? >> no. >> unlike what he had done vis-a-vis mr. flynn and overall russian investigation? >> correct. >> thank you, sir. >> senator risch. >> thank you very much. mr. comey, thank you for your service. america needs more like you and yesterday i got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now a part of the record here. i read it. then i read it ben. all i could think, number one, how much i hated the class of legal writing when i was in law school. you were the guy that probably got the a after reading this so. i find it clear. i find it concise. and having been a prosecutor for a number of years handling, hundred, maybe thousands of cases read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets. i really appreciate that. not only conciseness and clearness of it, but also the
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fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened. you actually put them in quotes. so we know exactly what happened and we're not getting some rendition of it that is in your mind. >> thank you, senator. >> you're to be complimented. >> i had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me. >> that is obvious, sir. the chairman walked through a number things the american people need to know and want to know. number one we all know about active measures russians have taken. i think a lot of people were surprised at this, those of us work in the intelligence community. it didn't come as surprise. but now the american people know this. it is good they know this. this is serious and it's a problem. i think secondly, i gather from all of this that you're willing to say now that while you were director, the president of the united states was not under investigation, is that a fair statement? >> that's correct. >> so that is a fact we can rely on? >> yes, sir. >> i remember, you talked with
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us shortly after february 14th, when "the new york times" wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the russians. you remember reading that article when it first came out? >> i do. it was about allegedly extensive electronic surveillance ever communications. >> correct. that upset you went out to the point and surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something, is that correct? >> that is correct. i want to be careful in open setting. >> i'm not going any further than that. so thank you. in addition to that, after that you sought out both republican and democrat senators to tell them that hey, i don't know where this is coming from, but this is not the case, this is not factual? do you recall that? >> yes.erican people can understand this, that report by "the new york times" was not true, is that a fair statement? >> in the main, it was not true. fenn again all of you know this
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but maybe the american people don't. the challenge, i'm not picking on reporters, writing stories about classified information, the people talking about it, often don't really know what is going on. those of us who know what is going on are not talking about. we don't call the press hey you got the thing wrong about the sensitive topic. we have to leave it there. i mentioned chairman nonsense what influenced me to make the july 5th statement. nonsense. i can't go explaining how it is nonsense. >> thank you. so those three things we now know regarding the active measures whether the president is under investigation and collusion between the russians, the trump campaign and russians. i want to drill right down as my time is limited, to the most recent dust-up regarding allegations that the president of the united states obstructed justice. and boy, you nailed this down on page 5, paragraph 3. you put this in quotes. words matter. you wrote down the words, so we
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can all have the words in front of us now. there is 2words there that are in quotes. it says, quote, i hope, this is the president speaking, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. now those are his exact words, is that correct? >> correct. >> you wrote them here and put them in quotes? >> correct. >> thank you for that. he did not direct you to let it go? >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order you to let it go? >> again, those words are not an order. >> he said, i hope. now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses. of course you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter, any other criminal
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offense where this, they said, or thought, they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i keep saying his words his, i took it as a direction. >> right. >> this is the president of the united states. with me alone saying i hope this. i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that. that is the way i took it. >> you may have taken as a direction, that is not what he said. >> correct. >> he said, i hope. >> those are exact words, correct. >> you don't know anyone ever been charging for hoping something that a fair statement? >> i don't as it sit here. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i just want you to know that i have great respect for you. senator cornyn and i sit on the judiciary committee. so we have occasion to have you before us, and i know that you're a man of strength and integrity and i really regret
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the situation that we all find ourselves in. i just want to say that, let me begin with one overarching question. why do you believe you were fired? >> because i don't know for sure i believe the, i think president at his word i was fired because of russia investigation. something about the way i was conducting it. the president felt, created pressure on him he wanted to relief. i didn't know that at the time but i watched his interview. i read the press accounts of his conversations. so i take him at his word there. look, i could be wrong. maybe he is saying something that is not true but i take him at his word, based on what i know now. >> talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty, and your response to that, and what impact you believe that had. >> i don't know for sure because i don't know the president well enough to read him well.
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i think it was, our relationship didn't get off to a great start given the conversation i had to have on january 6th. this was not, this didn't improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. he was asking for something and i was refusing to give it. i don't know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly. >> do you believe the russia investigation played a role? >> in why i was fired? >> yes. because i've seen the president say so. >> let's, let's go to the flynn issue. senator risch outlined a, i hope you could see your way to letting flynn go, he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go but you also said in your written remarks, and i quote, that you had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of flynn in connection with false statements
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about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december. end quote. please go into that with more detail. >> well the context and the president's words are what led me to that conclusion. as i said in my statement, i could be wrong but flynn had been forced to resign the day before. and, the controversy around general flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he had lied to the vice president about the nature of his conversations with the russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that. so that happens on the day before, on the 14th, the president makes specific reference to that. so that is why i understood him to be saying what he wanted me to do is drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> now here es the question. you're big, you're strong. i know the oval office and i know what happens to people when
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they walk in. there is is a certain amount of intimidation, but why didn't you stop,ç say, mr. president, this is wrong. i can not discuss this with you? >> that's a great question. maybe if i were stronger, i would have, i was so, stunned by the conversation, that i just took it in. and the only thing i could think to say, because i was playing in my mind, remember every word he said, was playing in my mind, what should my response be. that is why i very carefully chose the words. i've seen the tweet about tapes, lord, i hope there are tapes. i remember saying, i agree he is a good guy as a way of saying i'm not agreeing with what you just asked me to do. again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance but that was, that is how i conducted myself. i hope i will never have another opportunity. maybe if i did it again i would do it better. >> you described two phone calls
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you received from president trump, one on march 30, one on april 11, where he quote, described the russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president and ask you to, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. what, how did you interpret that? and what did you believe he wanted you to do? >> i termed that as he was frustrated that the russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy, i think he meant of the executive branch but in the public square in general, and it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. but what he asked me was actually narrower than that. so what i think he meant by the cloud, i could be wrong, what i think he meant by the cloud the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on things i want to focus on. the ask was to get it out, the
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president, am not personally under investigation. >> after april 11th, did he ask you more, ever, about the russia investigation? did he ask you any questions? >> we never spoke ben after april 11th. -- spoke again. >> you told the president, i would see what we could do. what did you mean? >> i was kind of a slightly cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we're not going to do that. that i would see what we could do. was a way, getting off the phone frankly, and then i turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general, mr. bente. >> so, i wanted to go into that. who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stopping the investigation, back at the fbi and what was their response? >> well the fbi, during one ever
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the two conversations, not remembering exactly, i think the first, my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president's call was a surprise. and i discussed the lifting of the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who in, typically, i think in all of these circumstance was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director's chief counsel, and i think, in number of circumstances the number three in the fbi and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. that group of us lead the fbi when it comes to national security. >> you have the president of the united states asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. what was the response of your colleagues? >> i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was. some said things that led me to
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believe that. i don't remember exactly but reaction was similar to mine. they are all experienced people who never experienced such a thing. so they were very concerned, conversation turned to what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. because, we are the leaders of the fbi. so, it has been reported to us in that i heard it and now i have shared it with leaders of the fbi, our conversation was, should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? our absolute primary concern was, we can't infect the investigative team. we don't want agents and analysts working on this to know president of united states has asked, when it comes from the president i took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we're not going to follow that request. request. so we have to keep it away from our troops. but is there anybody else we ought to tell? the justice department.
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and we considered to tell the justice because he was going to recuse. there were no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. the deputy attorney general was going to be acting shortly in that seat. and we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as he had already done, and then this investigation's going to go on. figure out what to do with it down the road. is there a way to corroborate this? our view at the time was, look, it's your word versus the president's. there's no way to corroborate this. that may have changed, but that's how we thought about it then >> thank you >> senator ruby >> thank you. director comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about mike flynn, was that the only time he asked you to hopefully let it go? >> yes. >> and in that meeting, as you understood it, that was -- he was asking not about the general russia investigation, he was asking very specifically about the jeopardy that flynn was in >> that's how i understood
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it. yes, sir >> and while you perceived it, while it was a request you hope to do away with it, you perceived it as a order, given his position and some of the circumstances >> yes. >> at the time, did you say anything to the president about that is not an appropriate request or did you tell the white house counsel that is not an appropriate request, someone needs to go tell the president that he can't do these things? >> i didn't, no. >> okay. why? >> i don't know as i said earlier, i think circumstances were such that i was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind. and i don't want to make it sound like i'm captain courageous. i would have said, sir, that's wrong. i don't know if i would have. but in the moment, it didn't come to my mind. what came to my mind is be careful what you say, so i said i agree. flynn is a good guy >> so on the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud. you perceive the cloud to be the russia investigation in general >> yes, sir. >> but this specific ask was that you would tell the
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american people what you had already told him, what you had already told the leaders of congress both democrats and republicans that he was not personally under investigation. >> yes, sir. >> asking you to do what you have done here today >> correct. yes, sir >> okay. and, again, at that setting, did you say t to the president that it would be inappropriate for you to do so and then talk to the white house counsel or anybody and hopefully they would talk to him and tell him you can't do this >> first time i said i'll see what we accountable of. second time, i explained how it should work that the white house counsel should contact the deputy attorney general >> you told him that? >> and the president said okay. i think that's what i'll do >> and just to be clear for you to make a public statement that he was not under investigation would not have been illegal. but you felt it would make no sense because it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed >> yes, sir. we wrestled with it before my testimony where i confirmed that there was an investigation. and there were two primary concerns. one was can creates a duty to correct, which i've lived before. and you want to be very
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careful about doing that. and second, it's a slippery slope because if we say the president and the vice president aren't under investigation, what's the principled basis for stopping? so the leadership at justice acting attorney general said you're not going to do that >> now, on march 30th during the phone call about general flynn, you said he aabruptly shifted and brought up something you call, quote, unquote, the mccabe thing. specifically the mccabe thing as you understood it was that mccabe's wife had received campaign money from what i assume means terry >> yes, sir. >> that was very close to the clintons. and so why did you -- had the president at any point in time express to you concern, opposition, potential opposition to mccabe, i don't like this guy because he got money someone close to clinton >> he had asked me during previous conversations about andy mccabe and said in essence how is he going to be with me as president? i was pretty rough on him on the campaign trail >> rough on mccabe?
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>> by his own account. he said rough on mccabe and mrs. mccabe. on the campaign trail, how is he going to be? and i assured the president andy is a total pro. no issue at all. you have to know the people at the fbi. they are not -- >> so the president turns to you and says remember, i never brought. the mccabe thing because you said he was a good guy. did you perceive that to be a statement that i took care of you. i didn't do something because you told me he was a good guy so now, you know, i'm asking you potentially for something in return. is that how you perceived it? >> i wasn't sure what to make of it honestly. that's possible, but it was so out of context that i didn't have to clear view of what it was >> now, on a number of occasions here you bring up -- let's talk now about the general russia investigation. okay? in page 6 of your testimony, you say the first thing you say is he asked what we could do to, quote, unquote, lift the cloud, and you responded that we were investigating the matters as quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit if we didn't find anything to
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having done the work well, and he agreed. he reemphasized the problems. but in essence the president agreed with your statement that if we could have a investigation, all the facts came out, and we found nothing. so he agreed that would be ideal. but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda. is that an accurate agenda >> yes, sir. he even went farther than that and said if some of my satellites did something wrong, that would be good to find out >> well, that's the second part. you said one of my satellites, by that, i imagine some of the other people around his campaign did something wrong. it would be great to know that as well >> yes, sir. that's what he said >> so are those the only two instances in which that sort of back and forth happened where the president was saying, and i'm paraphrasing here. it's okay. do the russia investigation. i hope it all comes out. i have nothing to do with anything russia. it would be great if it all came out if people around me were doing things wrong. >> yes. i recorded it accurately later. that's the sentiment he was
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expressing >> so what it comes down is the president asked three things of you. he asked for your loyalty. and you said you would be loyally honest >> honestly loyal >> he asked you on one occasion to let the mic flynn thing go, by the way, you're aware he said the exact same thing in the press. he's a good guy, et cetera, et cetera. so i imagine your fbi agents read that >> i'm sure they did. >> your president's wishes were known to him certainly the next day. going back, the three requests were number one, be loyal. number two, let the mic flynn thing go. he's a good guy. he's been treated unfairly. and number three, can you please tell the american people what these leaders in congress already know. what you already know. what you told me three times that i'm not -- i'm not personally under investigation >> those are the three things he asked, yes, sir. >> you know, this investigation is full of leaks left and right. we learn more from the
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newspaper sometimes than we do our open hearings, for sure wone only thing in this investigation the only thing that has never been leaked is the fact that the president was never personally under investigation. despite the fact that the leaders of congress have known that for weeks >> i don't know. i find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience. >> finally, who are the senior leaders? >> deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy directors chief counsel, and then more often than the, the number three person in the fbi who is the associate deputy director and then quite often the head of the national security branch >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, welcome. you and i have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting americans access to secure
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encryption. but i believe the timing of your firing stinks. and yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. now to my questions. in talking to senator warner about this dinner that you had with the president, i believe january 27th, all in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against him. all took place over one supper. now, you told senator warner that the president was looking to quote get something. looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled
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the investigation? >> i don't know that i would go that far. i got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt -- excuse me. how he felt i conducted myself and whether i demonstrated loyalty. but i don't know whether i would go so far as to connect -- >> said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage relationship. isn't the underlining expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss >> yes. or at least consider how what you're doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration >> let me turn to the attorney general. in your statement, you said that you and the fbi leadership team decided not to discuss the president's actions with attorney general sessions. even though he had not recused himself. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions
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with the russians, or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment as i recall was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. we also were aware of facts that i can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a russia-related investigation problematic, so we were convinced -- and, in fact, i think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with russia-related matters much longer. and that turned out to be the case >> how would you characterize attorney general sessions adherence to his recusal? in particular with regard to his involvement in your firing, kidnap has acknowledged was because of
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the russian investigation. >> that's a question i can't answer. i think it's a reasonable question. if said i was fired because of the investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain, i don't know. and i don't have an answer for the question >> your testimony was that the president's request about flynn could affect the investigation. had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you? what would have been the effect on the investigation? >> we would have closed any investigation of general flynn in connection with his statements and encounters -- statements about and encounters with russians in the late part of december. so we would have dropped an open criminal investigation.
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>> so in effect when you talk about about effecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the american people to get the facts >> correct. and as good as our people are, our judgment was we don't want them hearing that the president of the united states wants this to go away. because it might have an affect on their ability to be fair and impartial and aggressive >> now, the acting attorney general yates found out that michael flynn could be blackmailed by the russians, and she went immediately to warn the white house. flynn is gone. but other individuals with contacts with the russians are still in extremely important positions of power. should the american people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them? >> i think all i can say, senator, is it's a -- the
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special counsel's investigation is very important understanding what efforts there were or are by the russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the fbi's mission. and you have the right person and bob muller to lead it. so it's a very important piece of work. >> vice president pence was the head of the transition. to your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about michael flynn prior to or during general flynn's tenure as national security adviser? >> i don't -- you're asking including up to the time when flynn was forced to resign? my understanding is that he was, and i'm trying to remember where i get that understanding from. i think from acting attorney general yates. >> so former acting attorney general yates testified the concerns about general flynn were discussed with the
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intelligence community. would that have included anyone at the cia or dan's office, the dni? >> i would assume yes. >> michael flynn resigned four days after his attorney general sessions was sworn in. do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about michael flynn during that period? >> i don't. as i sit here. i don't recall that he was. i could be wrong, but i don't remember that he was. >> and finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. besides the letters of the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or have been involved in your firing? >> i don't. i don't. >> thank you, mr. chairman
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>> senator collins >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with our request to appear before this committee and this very important investigation. i want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, the three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation. the first was during your january 6th meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears that you actually volunteered that assurance; is that correct >> that's correct >> did you limit that statement to counterintelligence investigations? or were you talking about any kind of fbi investigation? >> i didn't use the term counterintelligence. i was speaking to him and
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briefing him about some unverified material. it was in the context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true. and my reading of it was it was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him. and so the context then was actually narrower, focused on what i just talked to him about. it was very important because it was first true. and second, i was very, very much about being in kind of a hoover type of situation. i didn't want him thinking that i was briefing on him to sort of hang it over him in some way. i was briefing him on it because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. we don't want to be keeping that from him. and if there was -- he needed to know this was being said. but i was very keen not to leave him with the impression that the bureau wasn't trying to do something to him. so that's the context in which i said, sir, we're not personally investigating you >> and then on -- and that's
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why you volunteered the information >> yes, ma'am. >> then on the january 27th dinner, you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because quote you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren't. again, were you limiting that statement counterintelligence investigations? or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation? >> the context was very similar. i didn't modify the word investigation. it was, again, he was reacting strongly against unverified material saying i'm attempted to order you to investigate it in the context of that i said "sir, you ought to be careful about that. because it might create a narrative we're investigating you personally"" >> and then there was the march 30th phone call with the president in which you reminded him that congressional leaders have been briefed that we were not
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personally -- the fbi was not personally investigating president trump. and, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations? or was it a broader statement? i'm trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president underway. >> no. i'm sorry. if i misunderstood, i apologize. we briefed the congressional leadership about what americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on, and we specifically said the president is not one of those americans. but there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. the context was counterintelligence, but i wasn't trying to hide some criminal investigation of the president. >> and was president under
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investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9th? >> no. >> i would like to now turn to the conversations with the president about michael flynn, which had been discussed at great length. and first, let me make very clear that the president should have never cleared the room, and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go. to let the investigation go. but i remain puzzled by your response. your response was that i agree that michael flynn was a good guy. you could have said "mr. president, this meeting is inappropriate. this response could compromise the investigation. you should not be making such a request. it's fundamental to the operation of our government that the fbi be insulated from
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this kind of political pressure. and you talked a bit today about you were stunned by the president making the request. but my question to you is later on upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel's office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-à-vis the fbi? >> in general, i did. i spoke to the attorney general, and i spoke to the new deputy attorney general mr. rosenstein when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the fbi. and i specifically as i said in my testimony, i told the attorney general it can't happen. that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. look, in the room -- but why didn't we raise the
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specific -- it was of investigative interest to us to try to figure out. so what make happened with the president's request? so i would not wanted to alert the white house that it had happened until we figured out what are we going to do with this investigatively? >> your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said "don't ever leave me alone with him again." are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with regard to part of the investigation of michael flynn? >> no. i specifically did not. i did not. >> you mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo memorializing the conversation. what was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you had not done that with two previous
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presidents? >> as i said, accommodation of things. a gut feeling is an important overlay with the circumstances that i was alone. the subject matter, and the nature of the person that i was interacting with, and my read of that person. and -- yeah, and really just a gut feel laying on top of all of that that this is going to be important to protect this organization that i make records of this. >> and finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice? >> yes. >> and to whom did you show copies? >> i asked -- the president tweeted on friday after i got fired that i better hope there's not tapes. i woke up in the middle of the night on monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. there might be a tape. and my judgment was i needed to get that out into the
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public square. so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. i didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the special counsel. so i asked a close friend of mine to do that. >> who was that? >> a good friend of mine who is professor at columbia law school. >> mr. comey, prior to january 27th of this year, have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or a private dinner with a president of the united states? >> no. i had two one on ones with president obama that i laid out in my testimony. once to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement erase, which was an important topic throughout for me and for the president. and once very briefly for him to say goodbye >> were those brief interactions? >> no. the one about law enforcement and race and
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policing, we spoke for probably over an hour. just the two of us. >> how unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president? does that strike you as odd? >> yeah. so much so that i assumed there would be others. that he couldn't possibly be having dinner with me alone >> if -- do you have an impression that if you had found -- if you had behaved differently in that dinner, and i am quite pleased that you did not. but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired? >> i don't know. it's impossible to say looking back. i don't know. >> but you felt like those two
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things were directly relevant to your -- the kind of relationship that the president was seeking to establish with you? >> sure. yes. >> yeah. the president has repeatedly talked about the russia investigation into u.s. -- or the russia's involvement in the u.s. election cycle as a hoax and as fake news. can you talk a little bit about what you saw as fbi director? and obviously, obstacle the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place. >> yes, sir. there should be no if yo fuzz on this whatsoever. the russians interfered in our election in the 2016 cycle. they did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an active measures campaign
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driven from the top of that government. there is no fuzz on that. it is the high intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. it's not a close call. that happened. that's about as unfake as you can possibly get, and it's very, very serious, which is why it's so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. because this is about america, not about any particular part >> so that was a hostile act by the russian government against this country? >> yes, sir. >> did the president in any of those interactions that you've shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect america against russian interference in our election system? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never? >> no. >> do you find it odd? >> not with president trump >> right. >> i attended a fair number of meetings like that with
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president obama. >> do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by russia's actions in our election? >> i can't say that because i don't know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders. so i just don't know sitting here >> did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously? >> i don't remember any interactions with the president, other than the initial briefing on january the 6th. i don't remember. i could be wrong, but i don't remember any conversations with him at all about that >> as you're very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. you told us that the president asked you to back off the flynn investigation. the president told a reporter -- >> not in that dinner >> fair enough >> told a reporter he never did that. you've testified that the president asked for your
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loyalty in that dinner. the white house denies that. a lot of this comes down to who should we believe. do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you? >> my mother raised me not to say things like this about myself, so i'm not going to. i think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. because as i used to say to juries and when i talked about a witness, you can't cherry-pick it. you can't say i like these things he said but on this, he's a dirty, rotten liar. you have to take it all together, and i've tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate. a really significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out of the oval office? why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? and so that, to me, as an investigator is a very significant fact
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>> and as we look at testimony or communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistency. >> well, when looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing >> thank you >> so there are reports that the incoming trump administration either during the transition and or after the inauguration attempted to set up a sort of back door communication channel with the russian government using their infrastructure, their devices or facilities. what would be the risks? particularly for a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet to setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign government, especially if they were to evade our own american intelligence services. >> i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in a open setting. the primary risk is obvious. you spare the russians cost of effort into breaking into our communications channels by
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using theirs. and so you make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations. and then to use those to the benefit of russia against the united states. >> the memos that you wrote. did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification? >> no. and on a few of the occasions, i wrote, i sent e-mails to my chief of staff or others on some of the brief phone conversations that i recall. the first one was a classified briefing. although it wasn't in a schiff. it was in a conference room at trump tower. it was at a classified briefing, so i wrote that on a classified device. the one i started typing in the car. that was a classified laptop that i started working on >> any reason in a classified environment that this committee would not be appropriate to see those communications from -- at least from your perspective as the author? >> no. >> thank you, mr. chairman
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>> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, when you were terminated at the fbi, i said and still continue to feel that you have provided years of great service to the country. i also said that i had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions you made. if the president hadn't terminated your service, would you still be in your opinion the director of the fbi today? >> yes, sir. >> so you took as a direction from the president something that you thought was serious and troublesome, but continued to show up to work the next day >> yes, sir. >> and six weeks later, we're still telling the president on march the 30th that he was not personally the target of any investigation >> correct. on march the 30th, and i think again on -- i think april 11th as well. we told him we're not
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investigating him personally. that was true >> well, the point to me, the concern to me there is that all of these things are going on. you now in retrospect or at least now to this committee that these were -- you had serious concerns about what the president had you believe directed you to do and had taken no action. hadn't even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is an up the chain of command, that these things had happened. do you have a sense of that looking back that that was a mistake? >> no. in fact, i think no action was the most important thing i could do to make sure there was no interference with the investigation >> and on the flynn issue specifically, i believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of flynn's account of his conversation with the russian ambassador. which was essentially misleading the vice president and others
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>> correct. and i'm not going to enter the details. but whether there were false statements made to government investigators as well >> the -- any suggestion that the -- that general flynn had violated the logan act, i always find pretty incredible. the logan act has been on the books for over 200 years. nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act. my sense would be that the discussion, not the problem misleading investigators or the vice president might have been >> that's fair, yes. >> and had you previously on february the 14th discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to flynn? >> no, sir. >> so he said he's a good guy, you said he's a good guy, and that was no further action taken on that >> he said more than that. but there was no -- the action
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was i wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what we're going to do with it and then made a decision. we're going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road >> was it not briefing up meant you had no responsibility to report that to the justice department in some way? >> i think at some point, and i don't know what director muller is going to do with it. but at some point, i was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. but our judgment was in the short-term, it doesn't make sense to -- no fuzz on the fact that i stressed it to the attorney general >> you know, you said the attorney general said i don't want to be in the room with him alone again, but you continue to talk to him on the phone. what is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone? >> yeah. i think what i stressed the attorney general is a little broader than just the report. i report to you. it's very important that you be between me and the white house. >> after that discussion with the attorney general, did you
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take phone calls from the president? >> yes, sir. >> so why did you just say -- why didn't you say i'm not taking that call. you need to talk to the attorney general? >> well, i did on the april 11th call, and i reported the calls. the march 30th call and the april 11th call to my superior, who was the acting deputy attorney general >> i don't want to run out of time here. let me make one other point. in reading your testimony, january the 3rd, january the 27th, and march the 30th, it appears to me on all three of those occasions, you unsolicited by the president made the point to him that he was not a target of an investigation. >> correct., yes, sir. >> one, i thought the march 30th very interesting. you said, well, even though you don't want -- you may not want -- that was the 27th where he said "why don't you look into that dossier thing more. you said, well, we may not want that because then we couldn't tell you -- you couldn't say -- we couldn't
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answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. but he didn't seem to be answering the question any house. senator ruby pointed out the unanswered unleaked investigation into that whole period of time. when you said something earlier. i don't want to fail up on. you said after you were dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media >> correct. >> what kind of information was that? what kind of information did you give to a friend? >> that the president -- the flynn conversation, that the president asked me to let the flynn -- i'm forgetting my exact, own words. but the conversation in the oval office. >> so you didn't consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. you considered to be somehow your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to? >> correct. >> that you a friend >> i understood this to be my
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recollection recorded of my conversation with the president as a private citizen. i felt free to share that. i thought it was very important to get it out >> so were all of your memos that you recorded on classified or other documents, memos that might be yours as a private citizen? >> i'm sorry. i'm not following the question >> well, i think you said you had used classified -- >> oh, yeah, not the classified documents. unclassified -- i don't have any of them anymore. i gave them to the special counsel. but, yeah, my view was that the content of those unclassified -- the memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded. >> so why didn't you give those to somebody yourself, rather than give them through a third party? >> because i was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point, and i was actually going out of town with my wife to hide, and i figured it would be like feeding seeing at the beach.
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>> as opposed to just taking responsibility yourself for saying here are these records and like everybody else, i have other things i would like to get into. but i'm out of time. >> okay. >> senator cane >> thank you. first, i would like to acknowledge senator blumenthal and senator nelson. one thing you'll recognize is that the chairs there are less comfortable than the chairs here. mr. comey, a broad question. was the russian activity in the 2016 election a one-off proposition? or is this part of a long-term strategy? will they be back? >> oh, it's a long-term practice. it stepped up a notch in a significant way in '16. they'll be back >> i think that's very important for the american people to understand that this is very much a forward-looking investigation in terms of how do we understand what they did? and how do we prevent it. would you agree that that's a
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big part of our role here? >> yes, sir. and it's not a republican thing or democratic thing. it really is an american thing. they're going to come for whatever party they choose to work on behalf of. and they're not devoted to either, in my experience. they're just about their own advantage, and they will be back >> that's my observation. i don't think putin is a rapport democrat. he's an opportunityist >> i think that's a fair statement >> with regard to these investigations, the president said i had dinner with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. is this an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> did you in any way initiate that dinner? >> no. he called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me was i free for dinner that night? he called himself and said could you come over to dinner tonight. and i said yes, sir. and then would 6:00 work?
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and we'll invite your whole family next time, but could you come over? and i said sure whatever works for you. and then he said 6:30. and i said whatever works for you. and i had to call my wife and break a date for her. that's -- >> that's one of the all time great excuses to break a date >> in retrospect, i love spending time with my wife. i wish i had been there that night >> that's one question i'm not going to follow up. but in that same interview, in one case i called him and one case he called me. is that an accurate statement? >> no. >> did you ever call the president? >> no. i might -- the only reason i'm hesitating is i think there was at least one conversation where i was asked to call the white house switchboard to be connected to him. but i never initiated a communication with the president. >> and press conference on may 18th, the president asked
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to shut down the investigation into michael flynn. the president responded quote no. no." is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> thank you with regard to the question with him being under -- personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way? >> obviously -- i can't comment either way. i can't talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when i was head of the fbi. and obviously it's director muller's -- bob muller's responsibility now. so i don't know >> so clearly your statements to happen in these varies times when you assured him as of that moment; correct? >> correct. >> now, on the flynn investigation, is it not true that mr. flynn was and is a central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the trump campaign and the russians? >> i can't answer that in an
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open setting, sir, >> and certainly mr. flynn was part of the so-called russia investigation. can you answer that question? >> i would have to give you the same answer >> all right. we'll be having a closed session shortly, so we will follow up on that. in terms of his comments to you about i think in response, he said i hope you will hold back on that. but when the president of the united states in the oval office says something like i hope or i suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive? >> yes. yes. it rings in my eras no one -- >> i was just going to quote that in 1170 he said wold rid me of this priest? and then the next day he was killed. that's the exact situation we were thinking along the same lines. several other questions, and these are a little bit more
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detailed. what do you know about the russian veb? >> nothing that i can talk about in an open setting. >> that takes care of my next three questions >> i know it exists, yes, sir >> you know it exists. what is the relationship of ambassador -- the ambassador from russia to the united states to the russian intelligence infrastructure? >> well, he's a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the russian embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. and so surely he's witting of their very, very aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the united states. i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. he's a diplomat. >> did you ever -- did the fbi ever brief the trump administration about the advisability of interacting
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directly with ambassador kislack? >> all i can say sitting here is there were a variety of defensive briefings given to the incoming administration about the counterintelligence risk. >> back to mr. flynn. would the -- would closing out the flynn investigation have impeded the overall russia investigation? >> no. unlikely, except to the extent -- there's always a possibility if you have a criminal case against somebody, and you squeeze them and flip them and give you information about something else. but i saw the two as touching each other. but separate. >> with regard to your memos, is it very true in a court case when you weigh evidence contemporaneous memos or statements are considered prohibitive in terms of the
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validity of the testimony? >> yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator langford. >> director comey, good to see you again >> you too >> we've had multiple opportunities, as everyone on this has. i appreciate your service to the country. i told you before in the heat of last year, you personally that i pray for you and your family, because you do carry a tremendous amount of stress, and that is true today >> thank you >> let me walk with a couple of things with you. your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a very rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happen in those different meetings. have you had the opportunity to be able to reference those notes when you're preparing the written statement that you put for us today? >> yes. i -- yes. i think nearly all of my written recordings of my conversations, i had a chance to review them before filing my statement >> do you have a copy of any of those notes personally?
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>> i don't. i turned them over to bob muller's investigators >> the individual that you told about your memos onto the new york times. did they have a copy of those memos? or were they told orally of those memos? >> aid i copy at the time >> do they still have a copy of those memos? >> it's a good question. i think so. i guess i can't say for sure sitting here. but i -- i guess i don't know. but i think >> so the question is could you ask them to hand that copy right back to you so that you could hand them over to this committee? >> potentially >> i would like to move that from potential to see if we can ask that question so we can have a copy of those. obviously, those notes are exceptionally important to us to be able to go through the process so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it as you know the written documents are exceptionally important. but are there other documents that we of an to be aware of that you also had to be able to assist us?
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>> no that i'm aware of, no. >> past the february 14th meeting, which is a very important meeting, obviously, as we discussed the conversations here about michael flynn. when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go and the conversation back and forth about being a good guy. after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about michael flynn again to you? you had multiple other conversations you documented with the president >> no, i don't ever remember him bringing it up again >> did any member of the white house staff ever come to you and tell him about letting go of the michael flynn case or dropping it or referring to that >> no. nope >> did the director of the national intelligence come and talk to you about that >> no. >> did anyone from the attorney general's office or the department of justice ask you about that >> no. >> the head of nsa talk to you about that? >> no. >> the key aspect here is if this seems to be something the president's trying to get you to drop, this seems like a pretty light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that moment the day after he had just fired flynn to come back and
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say i hope we can let this go. but then it never reappears again. did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with michael flynn? >> no, although i don't know there are any manifestations of the investigation between february 14th and when i was fired. so i -- i don't know that the president had any way of knowing whether it was effective or not. >> okay. that's fair enough. if the president wanted to stop an investigation, how we'll do that? knowing it's an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation, you go to you, you perceive and say you make it stop because he doesn't have the authority to stop? or how would the president make an ongoing investigation stop >> i'm not a legal scholar, so smarter people answer this better. but i think as a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this.
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but direct that anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated. i think he has the legal authority, as all of us ultimately report in the executive branch up to the president >> okay. would that be to you? would that be the attorney general, or that would be to who to do that? >> i suppose he could do it -- if he wanted to issue a direct order, he could do it in any way. he could do it through the attorney general or issue it directly to me >> is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? i can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he has done publicly to express he's not fond of the investigations. i've heard you share before in this conversation that you're trying to keep the agents that are working on it away from any comment the president might have made. quite frankly, the president is informed around 6 billion people that he's not real fond of this investigation. do you think there's a difference in that? >> yes. >> yes. i think there's a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval
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office, looking the fbi director in the eye and saying i hope you let this go. i think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the united states do that, there's a real risk and chilling effect on their work. that's why we kept it so tigh >> okay. you had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. without having to go into all the names and specific times and to be able to dip into all of that, had there been news accounts about the russia investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations that as you read the story, you were stunned about how wrong they got the facts >> yes. there had been many, many stories based on classified information about lots of stuff. but especially about russia that are just dead wrong >> i was interested in your comment that you made as well that the president said to you if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. that the president seemed to talk to you specifically on march the 30th and say i'm
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frustrated that the word is not getting out that i'm not under investigation. but if there are people that are in my circle that are, let's finish the investigation. is that how you took it as well? >> yes, sir. yes, sir >> and then you made a comment earlier about the attorney general, previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the clinton e-mails saying that you had been asked not to call an investigation anymore but to call it a matter. and you had said that confused you. can you give us additional details on that? >> well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we had refused to confirm the existence, as we typically do, of an investigation for months. and it was getting to a place where that looks silly because the campaigns were talking about interacting with the fbi in the course of our work. the clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security review, matters, things like that for what was going on. we were getting to a place where the attorney general and i were both going to have to
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testify and talk publicly about it, and i wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? and she said "yes, but don't call it that. call it a matter." and i said "why would i do that?" and she said "just call it a matter" and, again, you look back in hindsight and think should i have resisted harder? this isn't a hill worth dying on. so i said okay. the press is going to completely ignore it. and that's what happened when i said we have opened a matter. they all reported the fbi has an investigation open. and so that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's work. and that's concerning. >> you gave the impression that the campaign was somehow using the same language at the fbi because you were handed campaign language and told -- >> and, again, i don't know whether it was intentional or not, but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work the way our political campaign was describing the
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same activity, which was inaccurate. we had a criminal investigation open, as i said for the federal bureau of investigation. we had an open investigation at the time. and that gave me a queasy feeling >> thank you >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. comey. i appreciate you very much for being here. west virginia is very interested in this hearing that we're having today. i've had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow west virginiaians. and most of them have been asked. and there are quite a few that are quite detailed that i'll ask in our classified hearing. i want to thank you, first of all, for coming and agreeing to be here, volunteering but also volunteering to stay into the classified hearing. i don't know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday. >> i watched part of it, yes. >> and it was quite troubling. my colleagues here had some very pointed questions they wanted answers to that weren't classified. they could have answered them open setting. they refused to do so. so that makes us much more
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appreciative of your cooperation. sir, the seriousness of the russian aggressions in our past elections and knowing that it will be on going as senator king had alluded to, what's your concerns there? what should american public understand? people said, well, why are we worried about this? why making such a big deal of this russia investigation? can you tell me what your thoughts -- and the final thing is on this same topic. did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the russians were doing? >> thank you, senator. as i said earlier, i don't remember any conversations with the president about the russia election interference. >> did he ever ask you any questions concerning? >> although it was an initial briefing of our findings, and i think there was conversation there, i don't remember it exactly where he asked questions about what we had found and what our sources were and what our confidence level was. but after that, i don't remember anything. the reason this is such a big deal, we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the
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time. but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other americans. and that's wonderful and often painful. but we're talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion and lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think we vote, we act. that is a big deal. and people need to recognize it. it's not about republicans or democrats. they're coming after america, which i hope we all love equally. they want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. they think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. so they're going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. that's what this is about, and they will be back because we remain as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill, and they don't like it. >> so this is extremely important, extremely dangerous what we're dealing with, and it's needed is what you're saying >> yes, sir. >> do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of
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your conversations with the president? >> it never occurred to me until the president's tweet. i'm not being facetious, i hope there are >> so both of you are in the same findings here. you both hope there's tapes and recordings. >> well, i'm the -- all i can do is hope. the president surely knows whether he taped me. and if he knew, my feelings aren't hurt. release all the tapes. i'm good with it >> sir, do you believe that robert mueller, our new special investigator on russia will be thorough and complete without political intervention? and would you be confident on these findings and regulations? >> yes. bob muller is one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced. he will do it well. he is a dogged tough person, and you can have high confidence that when it's done, he has turned over all the rocks >> you've been asked a wide variety of questions today, and we're going to be hearing more i'm sure in our classified hearing. something i'll have to ask folks when they come here.
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what details of this saga would be -- should web focusing on? and what would you recommend us do differently? or adjust our perspective on this >> i don't know. one of the reasons that i'm pleased to be here is i think this committee has shown the american people, although we have two parties, and we disagree about important things, we can work together when it involves the core interest of the country. so i would hope you just keep doing what you're doing. it's good in and of itself, but it's also a model, especially for kids that we are a functioning adult democracy >> and you also mentioned that we had -- i think what? six meetings three times in person, six on the phone, nine times and conversations with the president. did he ever at that time allude that you were not performing adequately? ever indicate that at all? >> no. in fact, the contrary, quite often. yeah, he called me one day. i was about to get on a helicopter. the head of the dea was waiting on the helicopter for me. and he just called to check in and tell me i was doing an
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awesome job and wanted to see how i was doing, and i said i'm doing fine, sir. and then i finished the call and got on the helicopter. >> mr. comey, do you believe you would have been fired if hillary clinton had become president? >> that's a great question. i don't know. i don't know. >> do you have any thoughts about it? >> i might have been. i don't know. look, i've said before. that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. i think i did what i had to do, and i knew it was going to be very bad for me personally and the consequences of that might have been if hillary clinton was elected, i might have been terminated. i don't know. i really don't. >> my final question will be after february 14th, the meeting in the oval office, you mentioned that you asked attorney general sessions to ensure that you were never left alone with the president. attorney general sessions was not asked to stay in the room? >> oh, sure.
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i did. and have, in that moment i -- >> did you ever talk to him about it? >> no. >> you never had discussion with jeff sessions on this? >> no, not at all. >> on any of your meetings? >> no. >> did he inquire? did show inquiry whatsoever what that meeting was about? >> no. you're right. i did say to him, i forgotten this when i talked to him sid you have to be between me and the president. that is incredibly important. i forget my exact words. i passed along the president's message importance of aggressively pursuing leaks ofç classified information, which is a goal i share, and i passed that along to the attorney general, next morning in a meeting but i did not tell him about a flynn part. >> do you think this will rise to obstruction of justice? >> i don't know. that is bob mueller's job to sort that out. >> thank you, sir.
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>> mr. chairman? >> senator cotton. >> mr. comey, you encouraged the president to release the tapes. will you encourage the department of justice or your friend at columbia, or mr. mueller, to release your memos? >> sure. >> you said, you did not record your conversations with president obama or president bush in memos. did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump department of justice? >> no. >> did you -- >> i think -- i'm sorry. >> did you record conversations and memos with attorney general lynch or any other senior member of the obama department of justice? >> no, not that i recall. >> in your statement for the record you cite nine private conversations with the president, three meetings. two phone calls. four phone calls not discussed in the statement for the record. what happened in those phone calls? >> the president called me i believe shortly before he was
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inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on january the 6th. he just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and talk about, he thought about it more. why he thought it wasn't true, the verified, unverified and salacious parts. during that call he asked me, again, hope you're going to stay. you're doing a great job. i told him i intended to. there was another phone call i mentioned i think, could have the date wrong, march the 1st where he just called to check in with me as i about to get on the helicopter. there was a secure call about an operational matter that was not related to any of this, about something the fbi wason. he wanted to make sure that i understood how important he thought it was. totally appropriate call. and then the forth call, probably forgetting. may have been, i may have meant the call when he called to
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invite me to dinner. i will think about it as i'm answering other questions. i think i got that right. >> turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here, russia hacking into the emails and releasing them, allegations of collusion. do you believe donald trump colluded with russia? >> that is a question i don't think i should answer in an open setting. as i said, when i left we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. but that's a question that will be answered by the investigation i think. >> let me turn to a couple statements by one of my colleagues, senator feinstein. she was ranking member on this committee until january, which means she had access only she and chairman burr did. she is now senior democrat on judiciary committee. she has access to the fbi most of us don't. on may third, cnn's wolf bitter show, do you have have evidence there was collusion between russia and trump associates, during the campaign?
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she said not at this time. last same e time i spoke seen any action and collusion between trump campaign and russians, i'm quoting you said not at this time. has anything changed since you spoke. senator feinstein, said no, no, it hasn't. do you have any reason to doubt the statements? >> i don't doubt senator feinstein was saying she understood. i don't want to go down that path because i'm not in the government anymore. answering in the negative i just worry leads me deeper and deeper into talking about the investigation in an open setting i want to be always trying to be fair. not trying to be unfair about president trump. i'm not suggesting by my answer something nefarious, i don't want to get into the business not as to this person, not as to that person. >> february 14th, "new york times" published headline, trump campaign had repeated contacts with russian intelligence. you were asked earlier if that was inaccurate story, you said in the main. would it be fair to characterize story as almost entirely wrong? >> yes.
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>> did you have, at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between trump people and russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the russian government? >> that is one i can't answer sitting here. >> we can discuss that in classified setting then. i want to turn attention now to mr. flynn, allegations of his you know lying conduct. to be specific, his alleged interactions with the russian ambassador on the tell and what he said to senior trump administration officials and department of justice officials. i understand there are other issues with mr. flynn related to his receipt of foreign monies or disclosure of potential advocacy activities on behalf of foreign governments. those are serious and credible allegation i'm sure will be pursued but i want to speak specifically about the interactions with the russian ambassador. there was story on january 23rd in the "washington post," entitled fbi
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reviewed flynn calls to russian ambassador but found nothing illicit. is the story accurate? >> i don't want to comment on that senator, because i'm pretty sure that the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications. i don't want to talk about that in open setting. >> would it be improper incoming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador? >> in my experience, no. >> you can't confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it was in fact improper? >> i don't think i can talk about that in open setting. i've been out of government now a month. i also don't want to talk about things when it is now somebody else's responsibility but maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that. >> you stated earlier that there was an open investigation of mr. flynn and the fbi? did you or any fbi agent ever
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sense that mr. flynn attempted to deceive you or made false statements to an fbi agent? >> i don't want to go too far. that was the subject of the criminal inquiry. >> did you ever come close to closing the investigation on mr. flynn? >> i don't think i can talk about that in open setting either. >> i can discuss these more in closed setting then. mr. comey, in 2004 you were a part of a well-publicized event about a intelligence program that had been recertified several times and you were acting attorney general when attorney general john ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. there was dramatic showdown at a hospital here. the next day you said that you wrote a letter of resignation, sign it before you went to meet with president bush why you refused to certify it, is that accurate? >> yes, i think so. >> at anytime in the 3 1/2
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months you were the fbi director during the trump administration during ever write and sign a letter of recommendation and leave it on your desk? >> letter of resignation. >> letter of resignation. >> no, sir. >> despite all the things you testified toe here today, you didn't feel this rose to the level of honest but serious difference of he legal opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers and in that 2004 episode? >> i wouldn't characterize the second circumstances in 2004 that way but i didn't encounter any circumstance to intend to resign, consider to resign. no, sir. >> thank you. >> senator harris. >> director harris. i want to thank you, you are now a private citizen and enduring a senate intelligence committee hearing. each of us get seven minutes instead of five. yesterday they asked you questions, thank you. >> i'm between opportunity now. [laughter] >> i'm sure you will have future
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opportunities. you and i are both former prosecutors. not going to require you to answer. i want to make a statement in my, my experience of prosecuting cases, when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said i hope you will give me your wallet, the word hope was not the most operative word at that moment. you don't have to respond to that point. i have a series of questions to ask you and, they're going to start, are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and russian officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the white house? >> that's not a, even if i remember clearly, that is not a question i can answer in an open setting. >> are you aware of any efforts by trump campaign officials or associates of the campaignç to hide their communications with russian officials through encrypted communications or other means? >> i have to give you the same
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answer, senator. >> sure. in the course of the fib by's investigation did you ever come across anything that suggested that communications records, documents or other evidence had been destroyed? >> i think i got to give you the same answer it would touch on investigative matters. >> and are you awe wear of any efforts or potential effort to conceal communications between campaign officials and russian officials? >> got to give you the same answer, senator. >> thank you. as a former attorney general i have a series of questions about your connection with the attorney general during the course of your tenure as director. what is your understanding of the parameters of general session' recusal from the russian investigation? >> i think it is described in a written he release or statement from doj which i don't remember sitting here but the gist he would be recused from all matters relating to russia and the campaign or activities of russia and the '1election, something like that. >> is your knowledge of the
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extent of his recusal based on the public statements he has made? >> correct. >> was there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general or the department of justice to the fbi outlining the parameters of his recusal? >> not that i'm aware of. >> do you know if he reviewed any fbi or doj documents pertaining to the investigation before he was recused? >> i don't, i don't know. >> and after he was recused? assuming same answer? >> same answer. >> and as aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was, what mechanism or processes were in place to insure that the attorney general would not have any connection with the investigation? to your knowledge. >> i don't know for sure. i know that he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at doj but i don't know what mechanism they set up. >> the attorney general recused himself from the investigation but do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the chief investigator of that case, that russia interference? >> that is is being i can't
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answer sitting here. that is reasonable question it would depend on a lot of things i don't know. what was he told, did he realize the president was doing it because of the russian investigation, things like that. i don't know the answer. >> you mentioned in your written testimony and here the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. are you aware of making the same request to any other members of the cabinet. >> i do not. >> you don't know one way -- >> i don't know one way or another. i never heard anything about it. >> you mentioned you had a conversation where hoped you would let the flynn matter go on february 14th. or thereabouts. it's my understanding that mr. sessions was recused from any involvement in the investigation about a full two weeks later. to your knowledge was the attorney general, did he have access to information about the investigation in those interim two weeks? >> i don't -- in theory sure,
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because is the attorney general. i don't know whether he had any contact with materials related to that. >> to your knowledge was there any direct tiff he should not have any can't with any information about the russian investigation between the february 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused or recused himself on march 2nd? >> not to my knowledge. i don't know one way or another. >> and did you you speak to the attorney general about the russia investigation before his recusal? >> i don't think so, no. >> do you know if anyone in the department, in the fbi forwarded any documents or information or memos of any sort to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal? >> i don't, i don't know of any or remember any sitting here. it's possible but i don't remember any. >> do you know if the attorney general was involved in fact involved in any aspect of the russia investigation after his recusal on the 2nd of march? >> i don't. i would assume not but i don't -- let me say it this way.
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i don't know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the russia investigation after the recusal. >> in your written testimony you indicate that you, when, after you were left alone with the president you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. and apparently he did not he reply and you write that he did not reply. what did he do? if anything? did he just look at you? was there a pause for a moment? what happened? >> i don't remember real clearly. i have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me, there is a danger i'm projecting on to him, this may be a faulty memory, i kind of got, his body language gave me the sense of, what am i going to do? >> did he shrug? >> i don't remember clearly. the reason i have the impression, i have some recollection of imper acceptable, what am i going to do, but i don't have a clear recollection of that. he didn't say anything. >> and on that same
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february 14th meeting, you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. after that meeting however, you received two calls from the president, march 30th, april 11th where the president talked about a cloud over his presidency. has anything you've learned in the months since your february 14th meeting changed your understanding of president's request? i guess what he had said in public documents or public interviews? >> correct. >> okay. and is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth? >> no. the appointment of a special counsel should offer great, especially given who that person is, great comport to americans no matter what your political affiliation is, this will be done independently, confidentially and honestly. >> do you believe he should have full authority, mr. mueller, to be able to pursue that
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investigation? >> yes. and knowing him well, over the years, if there is something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it. >> do you believe he should have full independence? >> oh, yeah. he wouldn't be part of it if he wasn't going to get full independence. >> thank you. >> senator cornyn. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, i'll repeat what i have said at previous hearings that i believe you're a good and decent man who has been dealt a very difficult hand, starting back with the clinton email investigation, and i appreciate your willingness to appear here today voluntarily and answer your questions and cooperate with our investigation. as a general matter, if an fbi agent has reason to he believe that a crime has been committed, to they have a duty to report it? >> that's a good question. i don't know that there is a legal duty to report it. they certainly have cultural, ethical duty to report it.
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>> you're unsure whether they would have a legal duty? >> that is a good question. i never thought before. i don't know where -- there is statute that prohibits miss persian of a felony, knowing a felony and conceal it, this is different question. let me be clear. i would expect any fbi agent with reason of a crime to report it. >> me too. >> where you rest that obligation, i don't know. it exist. >> let me ask you as a general proposition, if you're trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an fbi director a good way to make that happen? by that i mean -- >> doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but i'm hopelessly biased given i was the one fired. >> i understand it is personal. >> no, given the nature of the fbi i meant what i said. indispensable people at world, including fbi, there is lots of bad things about me not being at
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fbi. most of them for me, but the work will go on before. >> so nothing that happened you testified to here today has impeded the investigation of the fbi or director mueller's commitment to get to the bottom of this from the standpoint of the fbi and the department of justice, would you agree with that? >> correct. especially appointment of former director mueller is critical part of that equation. >> let me take you back to the clinton email investigation. i think, you have been cast as hero or a villain depending on the, whose political ox is being gored at many different times during the course of the clinton email investigation, even now perhaps but, you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting attorney general, loretta lynch, when it came to the clinton email investigation. you mentioned the characterization that you had been asked to accept this was a matter anduu a criminal investigation which you said it
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was. there was the matter of president clinton's meeting on the tarmac with the sitting attorney general at a time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation, and you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting but it seems to me that you clearly believed that loretta lynch, the attorney general, had a appearance of a conflict of interest on the clinton email investigation, is that correct? >> i think that's fair. i didn't believe she could credibly decline that investigation, at least not without grievous damage to the department of justice and to the fbi. >> and under department of justice and fbi norms, wouldn't it have been appropriate for the attorney general or, if she had recused herself she did not do, for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel, essentially what is happened now with director mueller, would that have been an appropriate step in the clinton email
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investigation in your opinion. >> certainly a possible step, yes, sir. >> and were you aware that ms. lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and had refused? >> yes, from, i think congress had, members of congress repeatedly asked, yes, sir. >> yours truly did on multiple occasions and that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the department of justice which caused you to make, what you have described as an incredibly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself and led to that july press conference? >> yes, sir. i, after the president clinton, former president clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, i considered whether i should call for the appointment of a special counsel and decided that that would be an unfair thing to do because i knew there was no case there. we had investigated very, very thoros subject of passionate disagreement but i
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knew there was no case there. calling for appointment of special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send a message, ah-ha, there was something here. that was my judgment. lots of people have different views. that is what i thought about it. >> if the special counsel had been appointed they could have made that determination that there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right? >> sure. but it would have been many months later, a year later. >> let me just ask you to, given the experience of the clinton email investigation, an what happened there, do you think it is unreasonable for anyone, any president, who has been assured on multiple occasions that he is is not the subject of an fbi investigation, do you think it is unreasonable for them to want the fbi director to publicly announce that so that this cloud
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over his administration would be removed? >> i think that is a reasonable point of view. the concern would be obviously that boomerang comes back, it will be a very big deal because there will be a duty to correct. >> we saw that in the clinton email investigation of course. >> yes, i recall that. >> i know you do. so, let me ask you, finally in the minute that we have left. there was this conversation back and forth about loyalty. i think we all appreciate the fact that an fbi director is a unique public official in the sense, that, he is a political appoint aye in one sense but he has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the his, the constitution, laws of the united states. and so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth, well, i will pledge you my honesty. looks like from what i have read you agreed upon honest loyalty, something like that.
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is that the characterization? >> yes. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, sir. >> senator reed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, director comey. there have been press reports that the president in addition to asking you to drop the flynn investigation has asked other senior intelligence officials to take steps which would tend to undermine the investigation into russia. there has been reports that he asked dni coats and admiral rogers to make public statements exonerating him or taking the pressure off him, and also reports about admiral rogers and director pompeo to intervene and reach out to the fbi and ask them. are you aware of any of these, or do you have any information with respect to any of these allegations? >> i don't. i'm aware of the public
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reporting but i had no contact, no conversation with any of these loaders about that subject. >> thank you. you have testified that you interpret the discussion with the president about flynn as a direction to stop the investigation, is that correct? >> yes. >> you have testified that the president asked you to lift the cloud by essentially making public statements exonerating him and perhaps others. you he refused, correct? >> i didn't, i didn't do it. i didn't refuse. the president, i told him we would see what we could do. second time he called you i told him in substance that is something your lawyer will have to take up with the justice department. >> and part of the underlying logic we discussed many times this morning is the duty to correct. that is one of, theoretical issue but also very practical issue.
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was there, your feeling that the direction of the investigation could in fact include the president? >> well, in theory. i mean as i explained the concern of one of my senior leader colleagues was, if you're looking at potential coordination between the campaign and russia, the person at the head of the campaign is the candidate. so logically this person argued the candidate's knowledge understanding, will logically become a part of your inquiry if it proceeds. and so, i understood that argument. my view was that, that what i said to the president was accurate and fair, fair to him. i resisted the idea of publicly saying it. although justice department wanted to i would have done it because the duty to correct and slippery slope problem. >> again also you testified that the president asked you to repeatedly be loyal to him, you
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replied would be honestly loyal, you're way saying i will be honest and head of fbi an independent, is that fair. >> correct. i tried honest first. also, you see it in my testimony. also tried to explain to him why it is in his interests and every president's interests for the fbi to be a part in a way because its credibility is important to the president and to the country. so i tried to hold the line. got very awkward. i then said, you will always have honesty from me. honest loyalty? i acceded to end the awkwardness. >> culmination of all this events you're summarily fired without any explanation or anything else? >> there was explanation. i just don't buy it. >> yes. so, you're fired. so, do you believe that you were fired because refused to take the president's directions, is that the ultimate reason? >> i don't know for sure. i know i was fired. again i take the president's
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words. i know i was fired because of something about the way i was conducting the russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him in some way irritating him. he decided to fire me because of that. i can't go farther than that. >> the russia investigation as you have pointed out and all my colleagues is reflected is one of the most serious, hostile acts against this country in our history, undermining the very core of our democracy andç our elections, is not a discrete event. it will likely occur. it is probably being prepared for' '18, '20 and beyond. the president of the united states fires you in some in your words relation to the investigation. shows up with the russian foreign minister, classifying you as crazy and real nut jeb which i think you effectively disapproved this morning, he
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said i faced great pressure of russia. that has taken off. your conclusion would be that the president, i would think, is downplaying the seriousness of this threat and in fact, took specific steps to stop a thorough investigation of the russia, russia influence and also from what you ever said or what was said this morning, doesn't seem to particularly interested in these hostile threats by the russians is that fair? >> i don't know that i can agree to that level of detail. there is no doubt that it's a fair judgment, it is my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. i was fired in some way to change or, enhe defer was to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. that is a, that is a very big deal, not just because it involves me. the nature of the fbi and nature of its work requires that it not
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be the subject of political consideration. on top of that, you have the russia investigation itself is vital because of the threat. i know i should have said this early but it is obvious, if any americans were part of helping the russians do that to us, that is a very big deal. i'm confident if that is the case, director mueller will find that evidence. >> finally, the president tweeted that james comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press. was that rather unsettled -- unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying or intimidate anyone else seriously crosses his path of not doing it? >> i'm not going to sit here to interpret the president's tweets. to me it is major impact it occurred to me in the middle of night, holy cow, there might be tapes. if there are tapes, it is not just my word against his on the direction to get rid the flynn
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investigation. >> thank you very much. >> senator mccain. >> in the case of hillary clinton you made the statement that there wasn't sufficient evidence to bring a suit against her although it had been very careless in their behavior but you did reach a conclusion in that case that it was not necessary to, further pursue her. yet at same time in the case of mr. comey you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former secretary clinton is concerned
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and, and mr. trump? >> the clinton investigation was a completed investigation that, the fbi had been deeply involved in. so i had an opportunity to understand all the facts and apply those facts against the laws as i understood them. this investigation was underway, still going when i was fired. so it is nowhere in the same place, at least it wasn't -- >> but it is still ongoing? >> correct. so far as i know. it was when i left. >> that investigation was going on. this investigation is going on. you reached separate conclusions. >> no that one was done. >> that investigation of any involvement of secretary clinton or any of her associates is completed? >> yes, as of july the 5th, the fbi completed its investigative work and that is what i was announcing. what we had done and what we had found.
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>> well, at least in the minds of this member, there is a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, it is a quote, big deal as to what went on during the campaign. so i'm glad you concluded that part of the investigation but i, i think that the american people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that russia played. and obviously she was a candidate for president at the time. so she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it, big deal, took place. you're going to have to help me out here. in other words we're complete the investigation of anything that former secretary clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don't have to worry about it anymore?
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>> with respect -- i'm a little confused senator. with respect to secretary clinton we investigated, criminal investigation in connection with her use of a personal email server. >> i understand. >> that is the investigation i announced conclusion of on july 5th. >> so but at the same time you made the announcement there would be no charges brought against then secretary clinton for any activityies involved in the russia involvement in our engagement in our election. i don't quite understand how you can be done with that but not completely done with the whole investigation of their attempt to effect the out come of our election? >> no. i'm sorry. we're not, at least when i left, when i was fired on may the 9th, there was still open being, active investigation to understand russian efforts and whether any americans worked with them. >> but you reached the conclusion there was no reason to bring charges against secretary clinton. so you reached a conclusion in a
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case of mr. comey, president comey, excuse me, case of president trump. >> no, sir. >> you have ann on going investigation. so you have got one candidate who you are done with and another candidate that you have a long way to go is that correct? >> i don't know how far the fbi has to go but yes. that the clinton email investigation was completed. the investigation of russia's efforts in connection with the election and whether there was any coordination, if so, with whom between russia and campaign was ongoing when i left. >> you made it clear, what you said, this is quote a big deal, unquote. i think, it is hard to reconcile one case, reached complete he conclusion and other side you have, you have not. and you, in fact, obviously there's a lot more there as we know, as you called it a big
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deal. she is one of the candidates. but in her case there would be no charges and in the case of president trump, the investigation continues. what has been brought out in this hearing is that more and more emphasis on the russian engagement and involvement in this campaign. how serious do you think this was? >> very serious. but, i want to say something to be clear. we have not announced and there was no predication to announce an investigation of whether theç russians may have coordinated with secretary clinton's campaign. secretary clinton's campaign -- >> they may not have been involved in their campaign, they were involved with the entire presidential campaign obviously. >> of course. yes, sir. that is an investigation that began last summer and so far as i'm aware continues. >> so both president trump and former candidate clinton are
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both involved in the investigation yet one of them you said there is going to be no charges around the other one you said the investigation continues. i think there is a double standard there to tell you the truth. then when president said to you you talked about the april 11th phone call, and he said, quote, because i have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing you know, did that arouse your curiosity what, quote that thing was? >> yes. >> why didn't you ask him? >> didn't seem to me to be important for the conversation we were having to understand it. i took it to be some, an effort to communicate to me that there is a relationship between us where i have been good to you, you should be good to me? >> i think it would intensely arouse my curiosity if the president of the united states said we had that thing, you know. i would like to know what the hell that thing is, particularly if i'm the director of the fbi.
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>> i get that, senator. honestly, tell you what, this is speculation, but what i concluded ad the time in his memory he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner an was preparing himself to say i offered loyalty to you. you promised loyalty to you, all of sudden his memory showed i am that didn't happen i think he pulled up short. that is just a guess. i had a lot of conversations with humans over the years. >> i would have had a lot of curiosity if it was me. are you aware of anything that would lead you believe that the president or members of the administration or members of the campaign could poe he tensionally be used to coerce or black i will ma the administration? >> that is a subject for investigations, not something i can comment on sitting here. >> but you reached that conclusion as far as as secretary clinton was concerned but you're not reaching a conclusion as far as this
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administration is concerned? are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that information exists that could he coerce members of the administration or blackmail the administration? >> that is not question i can answer, senator. >> senator's time has expired. >> thank you. >> all time expired for the hearing. can i say for members, we'll reconvene promptly at 1:00 p.m. in the hearting room. we have a vote scheduled for 1:45. i would suggest that all members promptly be there at 1:00. we have about three minutes -- i'd like to have order. photographers, photographers, return to where you were, please. this hearing is not adjourned yet. either that or he will remove
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you. members we have three minutes of updates we would love to cover as soon as we get into the closed session before we have the opportunity to spende with . based on our agreement it would be my intentions to adjourn that closed hearing between 2:00 and 2:10, members can bo vote and i would urge you to eat at that time. jim, several of us on the committee had the opportunity to work with you since you walked in the door. i want to say personally on behalf of all this, all the committee members, we're grateful for you to your service to your country, not just in capacity as fbi director but as prosecutor and more importantly being somebody that loves this country enough to tell it like it is. i want to say to your workforce, that we're grateful to them with the level of cooperation that they have shown us with the trust we built between both organizations, the congress and
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the bureau. we couldn't do our job if it wasn't for their willingness to share candidly with us the work that we need to see. this hearing is the ninth public hearing this committee has had this year. that is twice the historical year-long average of this committee. i think the vice chairman and my biggest challenge when this investigation has concluded is to return our hearings to the secrecy of a closed hearing, to encourage our members not to freely talk about intelligence matters publicly, and to respect the fact that we have a huge job, and that's to represent the entire body of the united states senate and the american people, to make sure that we work with the intelligence community to provide you the tools to keep
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america safe, and that you do it within the legal limit or those limits set by the executive branch. we could not do it if it wasn't for trusted partnership that you have been able to lead and others before you. so as, as we depart from this, this is a pivotal hearing in our investigation. we're grateful to you for the professionalism you've shown and you're willingness. i will turn to the vice chairman. >> i simply want to echo, want again to give thanks for your appearance, and there are clearly still remain a number of questions and the one thing that i'm going to commit to you, more importantly i want to commit to all those still potentially watching an following, there is still a lot of unanswered questions and we're going to get to the bottom of this, we'll get the facts out. the american people deserve to know. there is the questions around implications of trump officials and russians but there is also the mack coissue what the
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russians did and continue to do. i think it is very important that all americans realize that threat is real. it is continuous. it is not just towards our nation. it is towards all western democracies. and we have to come to a solution. thank you, mr. chairman. >> director comey, thank you once again on behalf of the committee. this hearing is adjourned. neil: there you have it. didn't lay a glove on him, didn't lay a glove on the president of the united states. the hope on part of any democrats to say that the former fbi director was going to say the president was obstructing justice or strong-arming him into going light not only on the president but maybe on general flynn, that does not appear to be the case. ironically one of the more memorable exchanges might be with the senator you barely know, james risch of idaho, who had pointed out the distinction between

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