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tv   News Comey Senate Testimony  FOX News  June 8, 2017 7:00am-9:43am PDT

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>> bill: senator feinstein. marco rubio, tom cotton, we'll see what he does. john cornyn, he is on that committee as well. approaching the top of the hour, 10:00 east coast time as our coverage continues right now. this is a fox news alert and we're moments away from james comey entering that room. we believe he left his home in virginia 8:50 a.m. eastern time. an hour and 10 minutes ago. the maps indicate it was about a 37-minute drive. we can do it with technology believe it or not. we believe he has arrived on the hill. he will begin after opening statements by the ranking members here richard burr the republican from north carolina, the chairman. mark warner, the democrat from virginia will read an opening statement as well. then james comey is set to detail the seven-page letter that went public yesterday.
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that will begin at trump tower on january 6th of this year face-to-face. then he will move to a dinner in the greenroom of the white house on january 27th. after that he will move to a meeting on february 14th. valentine's day in the oval office again a face-to-face meeting. following that, we'll get details on a phone call from the 30th of march at the f.b.i. from the president and then on the 11th of april another phone call on that morning with the f.b.i. director who is now terminated. what we do not have details on, however, are at least four other interactions he says they had over a period of four months. he said nine in total. three in person, six on the phone. this testimony would indicate there are five of those encounters that we'll hear about which leaves four others. what was said then we'll have to find out together. >> shannon: it will be interesting to see if there are memos for those interactions because we've heard a lot about this. the former f.b.i. director
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confirmed in the statement we've gotten that after their very first meeting in trump tower he felt compelled when he walked outside. he said i was inside an f.b.i. vehicle with an f.b.i. laptop and important to memorialize our conversation and he did that moving forward. so there may be some other memos that would fill in gaps of the meetings he didn't address in this opening statement and also said it wasn't something he had done previously. but everybody wants to know those memos when they first surfaced in press accounts, who leaked them, where did they come from? are they federal documents that can be subpoenaed? >> he described he had two one-on-one encounters with president obama and did not take notes of that. he did not feel it rose to the level of significance as james comey comes in the room now. one of the two he details is the farewell meeting toward the end of 2016. so here is the man of the hour, james comey taking his seat as
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the cameras click into place here. we should hear chairman burr bring us all to attention and then we'll get into today's hearing. the way it is set up is that each senator on the committee gets seven minutes for a question and answer. what jason chaffetz described 15 minutes ago is be prepared but also be prepared to listen. oftentimes that next question will be found in the answer that is given. we'll see how far he goes today. >> shannon: one of our white house producers confirming the president will be his with legal aides watching the testimony in his personal dining room near the oval office. they will be parsing more carefully than anyone in washington >> bill: this man is used to this moment based on his history with the f.b.i. and his
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history after loretta lynch met with former president clinton. asserting himself into the election and the events of the election that led up to the end of october where he spoke out about emails and hillary clinton's server. only to exonerate her in the days before election day tuesday last november. there is chairman burr. let's get ready inside the hart senate office building on capitol hill. >> director comey, appreciate your willingness to come before the committee today and thank you for your time in the f.b.i. your appearance here today speaks to the trust we have built over the years and i'm looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. i would like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 p.m. today and i ask that
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you reserve for that 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 timeline for his commitment to be on the hill. we'll do everything we can to meet that agreement. the senate select committee on intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the united states senate and the american people that the 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. i think it's 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 outlines a 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
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committee's ongoing investigation. our experienced staff is 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 the one-on-one dinner of january 27th was, and i quote, at least in part an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or is march 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of russia investigation in any way alter your approach for the
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f.b.i.'s investigation into general flynn or the broader investigation into russia and possible links to the campaign? in 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 counter intelligence concern? there has been a significant public speculation about your attention making related to the clinton email investigation. why did you decide to publicly announce f.b.i.'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 bipartisan approach to what is a highly-charged partisan issue.
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russian activities during 2016 election may have been aimed at one party's candidate but as my colleague senator rubio says frequently in 2018 and 2020, it could be aimed at anyone at home or abroad. my colleague, senator warner, and i have worked to stay in lock step on this investigation. we've had our differences on approach at times. but i've 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's too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. with that, again i welcome you, director, and i turn to vice chairman for any comments he might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me start by thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they've taken on this task. mr. comey, thank you for
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agreeing to come testify as part of this committee's investigation into russia. i realize that this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of washington in the last few days. 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's not about who won or lost. it sure as heck is 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
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hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of disinformational 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. intelligence community. we must find out the full story. what the russians did as other colleagues have mentioned why they were so successful and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can't do it again. we mentioned 2018 and 2020. in my state of virginia we have
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elections this year in 2017. simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. mr. comey, let me say at the outset we haven't always agreed on every issue and i've questioned some of the actions you've taken but i've 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 speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career. which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. before we begin 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's 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 caught up in this massive web. we saw mr. trump's campaign manager, mr. manafort, forced to step down over ties to russian-backed entities. general flynn had to resign over his lies with engagements with the russia and 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 lot to investigate. enough, in fact, then director
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comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between mr. trump's campaign and the russian government. as the director of the f.b.i., mr. comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. which might explain why you are sitting now as a private citizen. what we didn't know 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-op the director of the f.b.i. the testimony that mr. comey has submitted for today's hearing is very disturbing. 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 he could
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privately ask director comey, quote, to see his way clear to letting flynn go. that is a statement that director comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general flynn's false statements. think about it. the president of the united states asking the f.b.i. director to drop an ongoing investigation. and after that, the president called the f.b.i. director on two additional occasions march 30th and april 11th and asked him again, quote, to lift the cloud on the russia investigation. 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 russia investigation. of course, after his refusals, director comey was fired.
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the initial explanation for the firing didn't pass any smell test. so now director comey was fired saying he didn't treat hillary clinton appropriately. that explanation lasted about a day. 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 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 as a quote, unquote, nut job, the president allegedly suggested his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about russia. this is not happening in isolation. at the same time the president was engaged in these efforts with director comey, he was
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also at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the russian investigation or to intervene with the director. yesterday we had dni director coats, nsa director admiral rogers 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 my belief that's 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, as i said at the-out set i've seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. i'm proud of the committee's efforts so far. let me be clear, this is not a
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witch 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 any time 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. >> 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 are now under oath. and i would just note to the members you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes and again it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 p.m.
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with that, director comey. you have the floor for as long as you might need. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking members warner and members of the committee. i've submitted my statement for the record and i will not repeat it here this morning. i thought i would just offer so brief introductory remarks and i would welcome your questions. when i was appointed f.b.i. director in 2013, i understood that i served at the pleasure of the president. even though i was appointed to a 10-year term which congress created in order to underscore the importance of the f.b.i. being outside of politics and independent, i understood i could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. on may 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
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me. they confused me because the 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 that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and had learned i was doing a great job and that i was extremely well liked by the f.b.i. 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 that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the russia investigation. i was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that i was fired because of the decisions i had made during the election
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year. that didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions had had to be made. that didn't make any sense to me. and although the law required no reason at all to fire an f.b.i. director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the f.b.i. 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 f.b.i. workforce had to hear them and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. i worked every day at the f.b.i. to help make that great organization better. and i say help because i did nothing alone at the f.b.i. there are no indispensable people at the f.b.i. the organization's great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide.
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the f.b.i. will be fine without me. the f.b.i.'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 my former colleagues of the f.b.i. first i want the american people to know this truth. the f.b.i. is honest. the f.b.i. is strong, and the f.b.i. is and always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues, if i may, i am so sorry that i didn't get the chance to say goodbye to you properly. it was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the f.b.i. family, and i will miss it for the rest of my life. thank you for standing watch. thank you for doing so much
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good for this country. do that good as long as ever you can. and senators, i look forward to your questions. >> director, thank you for that testimony both oral and the written testimony you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the american people. 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 have any doubt that russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections? >> none. >> do you have any doubt that the russian government was behind the intrusions in the dnc and dcc systems and the leaks of that information? >> no doubt. >> do you have any doubt the russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the
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state voter files? >> 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 presidential election were altered? >> i'm confident. when i left as director i had seen no indication of that whatsoever. >> director comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the f.b.i. 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
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flynn had an unreported contact with the russians, which is an offense. and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his f.b.i. testimony. in your estimation, was general flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy, and in addition to that, do you sense 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 f.b.i. criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the russian contacts and the contacts themselves. that was my assessment at the time. i don't think it's 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's a conclusion i'm sure the special counsel will work the try to understand what the
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intention was there and whether that's an offense. >> director, is it possible that as part of this f.b.i. investigation, the f.b.i. 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 fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn't have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? >> correct. in any complex investigation when you turn over rocks sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> director comey, you have 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. it caused a whole lot of
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personal pain for me. as i look back, given what i knew at the time and even what i've learned sense, i think it was the best way to try to the justice institution, including the f.b.i. >> 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 f.b.i. 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 f.b.i., was the f.b.i. able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document? >> i don't think that's a question i can answer in an 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 related to the interference in our election would you say it's normal for foreign government to reach out to members of an incoming administration? >> yes. >> at what point does the normal contact cross the line in 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. what the nature of the request made of the american by the foreign government are. it is a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts. >> at what point would that recruitment become a counter intelligence threat to our country? >> again, difficult to answer in the abstract but when a foreign power is using especially coercion or some sort of pressure to try to
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co-op an american official to act on its behalf and at the heart of the f.b.i.'s counter intelligence commission. >> if you have a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the f.b.i. would have to for counter intelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost is the counter intelligence concerns that we have about blackmail. would that be an accurate statement? >> yes. the f.b.i. receives a credible allegation there is some effort to covertly and employ and american on behalf of the foreign power that's the basis on which counter intelligence investigation is open. >> and when you read the dossier, what was your reaction given that it was 100% directed
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at the president-elect? >> not a question i can answer in an open setting. >> when did you become aware of the cyber intrusion? >> the first cyber -- all kind of cyber intrusions going on all the time. the first russia-connected cyber intrusion i became aware of in the late summer of 2015. >> and in that time frame, there were more than the dnc and the dccc that were targets? >> correct. it was a massive effort to target government and non-governmental agencies like non-profits. >> what would be the estimate of how many entities out there the russians specifically targeted in that time frame? >> it's hundreds. i suppose it could be more than a thousand but at least hundreds. >> when did you become aware that data had been ex filitrateed? >> i'm not sure exactly. i think either late 15 or early 16. >> and did you, the director of
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the f.b.i., have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed? >> yes. >> and share with us, if you will, what actions they too? >> well, the f.b.i. had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims and that's what we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spear phishing campaign and we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing and a series of continuing interaction with entities in 15 and 16 and in 16 we were trying to respond to the intrusion we saw. >> the f.b.i. in this case, 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 that they had collected? >> in the case of the dnc, and
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i believe the dccc but i'm sure the dnc we did not have access to the devices themselves. we got relevant forensic information from a private party. high-class entity that had done the work. >> content part of the important part of the forensics from a counter intelligence standpoint >> it is. my folks said they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016. >> let me go back, if i can very briefly, to the decision to 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?
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>> yes. in a conclusive way that was the thing that capped it for me that i had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation which meant both the f.b.i. 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 has been briefed on. there has been public accounts of it which are nonsense. i understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. probably the only other consideration i can talk about in open setting at one point the attorney general directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me. but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude i have to step away from the department if we're to close this case credibly. >> my last question. you are not only a seasoned
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prosecutor, you've led the f.b.i. for years. you understand the investigative process. you've worked with this committee closely and we're grateful to you because i think we've mutual liability 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's been set up? >> no, no doubt. it can be done. requires lots of conversations but bob mueller is one of this country's great, great pros and you'll be able to work it out with him to run in in parallel. >> bill: thank you once again and i'll turn to the vice chairman. >> director comey, thank you for your service and your comments to your f.b.i. family
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i know were heart felt. know that even though there are some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation, you had acting director mccabe, public testimony a few weeks back and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm the vast majority of the f.b.i. 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 and 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 russia investigation. my understanding is you terward 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 you started documenting it as soon as you got into the car.
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now, you've had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the f.b.i. you've worked under 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 relate to the president-elect personally and then the nature of the person. i was 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 have to write it down and i have to write it down in a very detailed way. >> i think that's a very important statement you just
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made. my understanding is that then again unlike your dealings with presidents 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 nearly all of them especially the ones that were substantive. i knew there might come a day i might need a record of what happened but not to just defend myself but to defend the f.b.i. and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function. that's 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 only president that you felt like in every
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meeting you needed to document because you felt at some point he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting. >> that's right, senator. and as i said in my written testimony as f.b.i. 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 a difficult national security matter. i didn't write a memo. sent a quick email to my staff to let them know there was something going on. i didn't feel with president bush to document in in that way because of the combination of factors wasn't present with either president bush or president obama. >> i think that is very significant. i think others will probably question that. chairman and i have requested those memos. it's our hope that the f.b.i. will get this committee access to those memos so we can read
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that contemporaneous so we've got your side of the story. now, i know members have said and press have said that if you were a great deal has been made of whether the president you were asked and indicate whether the president was the subject of any investigation and my understanding is prior to your meeting on january 6th you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then president-elect trump that the f.b.i. was not investigating him personally. now, i understand your leadership team agreed with that. was there any debate about that? it was is unanimous decision? >> one of the members of the leadership team had a view although it was technically true we did not have a counter intelligence file, case open on then president-elect trump his concern was because we're looking at the potential, the
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subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and russia because it was president trump, president-elect trump's campaign this person's view was inevitably 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 counter intelligence 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 in the subsequent sessions? >> with the f.b.i. leadership? 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 -- it would touch the campaign and the person ahead of the campaign would be the candidate. so that was his view throughout.
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>> let me move to the january 27th dinner. where you said, quote, the president began by asking me whether i wanted to stay on as f.b.i. director. he also indicated that lots of people, again your words, wanted the job. you go on to say the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to, quote, have you ask him for your job and create some sort of quote, unquote, patronage relationship. the president 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? >> well, my impression -- it's my impression, i could always be wrong. my common sense told me what was going on is either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn't -- you've already asked comey to stay and
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you didn't get for it. the dinner was an effort to build a relationship. he asked for loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as i said what was odd about that we talked twice about it by that point and he had said i very much hope you'll stay. i hope you'll stay. i remembered sitting here a third one. when you've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room and what the president whispered in my ear was i really look forward to working with you. so after those encounters. >> that was just a few days before you were fired. >> that was on the sunday after the inauguration. the next friday i have dinner and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. so i'm sitting there thinking wait a minute. three times we've already -- you've already asked me to stay or talked about me staying. my common sense. i could be wrong. my common sense what told me what's going on he is looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> again, we all understand i
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was a governor. had people work for me but this constant request quoting you, him saying that he -- despite you explaining your independence he kept coming back to i expect loyalty. had you had requests for anyone you had worked for before in the government? >> no. what made me uneasy. i'm the director of the f.b.i. the reason that congress created a 10-year term is to that the director is not feeling as if they are serving with political loyalty owed to any particular person. the statute of justice has a blindfold on. you can't peek out to see if your patron is pleased with what you're doing. it should be about the facts and the law and why i became an f.b.i. director to be in that kind of position and that's why i was so uneasy. >> february 14th it seems a bit
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strange and the attorney general was in that meeting as well. 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 and seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well. i think he picked up on the same thing. 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
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that was unclassified. if you affirmatively made the 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 and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the american people? >> 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 this committee gets this. sometimes when things are classified it tangles them up. it's hard to share it within an investigative team. you have to be very careful about how you handle it for good reason. my thinking was if i write it in such a way that i don't include anything that would trigger a classification, that will make it easier for us to discuss within the f.b.i. and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us. >> again, it's our hope particularly since you are a knowledgeable guy and wrote it in a way that was unclassified
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this committee will get access to that unclassified document. i think it will be very important to our investigation. let me just ask this in closing. how many ongoing investigations at any time does the f.b.i. have? >> tens of thousands. >> tens of thousands. did the president ever ask about any other ongoing 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 warren. i'm sitting here going through my contacts. i had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our -- an ongoing intelligence investigation.
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it was brief and entirely professional. >> he didn't ask you to take any specific action on that. >> no, unlike what he had done with mr. flynn and the overall russia investigation. >> correct. >> mr. comey, thank you for your service. america needs more like you and we really appreciate it. yesterday i got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now part of the record here. and the first i read it, then i read it again. and all i could think was 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 and handling hundreds, maybe thousands of cases and read investigative reports, this is as good as it gets and i really appreciate that. not only the conciseness and the clearness of it but also
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the fact that you have things that were written down con tem important ainously when they happened and you put them in quotes so we know exactly what happened and we're not getting some rendition of it that is in your mind. >> i had great parents and teachers who beat that into me. >> that's obvious. the chairman walked you through a number of things the american people need and want to know. number one, we all know about the active measures the russians have taken. a lot of people were surprised at this. those of us working in intelligence didn't come as a surprise. now the american people know this. it's serious and it is a problem. secondly, i gather from all of this that you are 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 is correct. >> that's a fact we can rely on.
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>> yes, sir. >> i remember you talked with 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 extensive electronic surveillance. >> that upset you to the point where you actually went out and surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that, is that correct? >> that's correct. i want to be careful in an open setting. >> i won't go any further than that. 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. >> so the american 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. again, all of you know this,
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american people don't. the challenge -- i'm not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information. the people talking about it often don't really know what's going on. those of us who know what's going on aren't talking about it. we don't call the press to say you have to this thing wrong. we have to leave it there. the nonsense about what made me about the july statement. nonsense. i can't explain why it's nonsense. >> those three things we now know with the investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the 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 and put it in quotes.
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words matters. you wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. there are 28 words there in quotes and it says, quote, i hope -- this is the president speaking -- i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. those are his exact words, is that correct? >> creek. >> bill: you wrote them 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 and you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there that where people have been charged. do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or any
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other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i keep saying his words is, i took it as a direction. he 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 but that's the way i took it. >> that's not what he said. >> that's correct. >> he said i hope. >> those are exact words, correct. >> you don't know of anyone that has ever been charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement? >> i don't as i sit here. >> senator feinstein. >> thanks very much. mr. comey, i have great respect for you. senator cornyn and i sit on the judiciary committee. we have occasion to have you before us and i know that you are a man of strength and
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integrity. and i really regret 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? >> i guess i don't know for sure. i take the president at his word because of the russia investigation. something about the way i was conducting on it. created pressure on him he wanted relieved. i didn't know that at the time. i watched the interview and read the press accounts at his conversation and i take him at his word there. maybe he is saying something that's not true but i take it on his word as i know now. >> talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty and your response to that and what impact you believe had. >> i don't know for sure because i don't know the
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president well enough to read him well. 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 didn't improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. he was asking for something and i was refusing to give it. but again 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. i've seen the president say so. >> all right. let's go to the flynn issue. senator risch outlined 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
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statements 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. and so that's why i understood him to be saying what i wanted me to do is drop any investigation connected to flynn's account of his conversations with the russians. >> here is the question. you are big and you are strong. i know the oval office and i know what happens to people
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when they walk in. there is a certain amount of intimidation. but why didn't you stop and say mr. president, this is wrong. i cannot 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. i wanted to remember every word he said. i was playing in my mind what should my response be and why i carefully chose the words. look, i've seen the tweet about tapes, lordy, 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's how i conducted myself. i hope i'll never have an opportunity. maybe if i did it again i would do it better. >> you describe two phone calls
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you received from president trump, one on march 30 and one on april 11 where he, quote, described the russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. how did you interpret that? and what did you believe he wanted to you do? >> i interpreted that as he was frustrated that the russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. i have think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general. it was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. but what he asked me was actually narrower than that. i think what 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 difficult for me to focus on
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the things that i want to focus on and the ask was to get out the president, i am not under investigation. >> after april 11th did he ask you more ever about the russia investigation? did he ask you any questions? >> we never spoke again after april 11th. >> you told the president "i would see what we could do." what did you mean? >> it was kind of a slightly cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him we aren't going to do that. i would see what we could do. it was a way of getting off the phone, frankly. and then i turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general, mr. bente. >> who did you talk about that lifting the cloud, stopping tin vest gaition at the f.b.i. and what was their response?
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>> well, the f.b.i. during one of the two conversations, not remembering exactly. my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversations because the president's call was a surprise. i discussed the lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who, typically and in all these circumstances was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director's chief counsel and i think in a number of circumstances the number three in the f.b.i. and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. that group of us that lead the f.b.i. when it comes to national security. >> you have the president of the united states asking you to stop an investigation that's an important investigation. what was the response of your colleagues? >> i think they were as shocked and troubled by it as i was.
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some said things that led me to believe that. i don't remember exactly. the reaction was similar to mine. they are all experienced people who never experienced such a thing and they were very concerned and the conversation turned what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. because we are the leaders of the f.b.i. so it's been reported to us and that i heard it and shared it with the leaders of the f.b.i., 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 the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united states has asked -- when it comes from the president i took it as an instruction to get rid of the investigation. we decided to keep it away from our troops. is there anybody else we ought to tell in the justice department? we considered whether to tell
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the attorney general. decided it didn't make sense because we believed he would recuse shortly. there were no other senate-confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. the deputy attorney general would be shortly in the seat and decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it as we had already done and then this investigation will go on and figure out what to do down the road. is there a way to corroborate it. it is your word against the president's, no way to corroborate this. my view of that changeded when the prospect of tapes was raised but that's how we thought >> thank you. director comey, the meeting in the oval office, was that the only time he asked you to hopefully let it go? >> >> s. >> in that meeting, he was asking out about the general russia investigation, he was asking very specifically about the jeopardy flynn was in
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himself. >> yes, sir. >> you perceived it as an order, given his position. >> yes. the >> 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 but is not an appropriate request? somebody needs to tell the president that he can't do these things? >> i didn't, no. >> why? >> i don't know. i think the circumstances were such that i was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind. i don't want to make it sound like i'm captain courageous. i don't know that i would have had the presence of mind to say sir, that's wrong. in the moment, it didn't come to my mind. i came to my mind was be careful what you say and so i said, i agree flynn is a good guy. >> on the cloud, you perceived the cloud to be the russia investigation in general. >> yes, sir.
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>> the request was he would tell the american people what you had already told him and leaders of congress that he was not personally under investigation. >> yes, sir, . >> again, at that setting, did you say to the president that it would be inappropriate for you to do so and tell the white house counsel or anybody so hopefully they would talk to him and tell him he couldn't do this? >> the first time i said i'll see what we can do, the second time, i explained how it should work, that the white house counsel should contact the deputy attorney general. the president said that's what i'll do. >> to be clear, it would not have been illegal, but you felt it made no sense because it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed. >> yes, sir. we wrestled with it was before my testimony when we confirm that there was an investigation and there were two primary concerns. one was that creates a duty to correct, which i've lived before
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and you want to be very careful about doing that. and second, it's a slippery slope because if we say the president and the vice president aren't in an investigation, which the principal basis for stopping? the acting attorney general said you're not going to do that. >> on march 30th during the phone call about general flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call the mccabe thing. specifically, the mccain thing is you understood it was that mccabe's wife had received campaign money from someone who is very close to the clintons. had the president at any point in time to express concern to you, opposition, potential opposition to mccabe? i don't like this guy because he got money from someone close to clinton? >> had asked me during previous conversations about andy mccabe and said in essence, how's he going to be with me as president? i was pretty rough on him on the campaign trail. >> he was rough on mccabe?
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>> by his own account, he said he was rough on mccabe and mrs. mccabe on the campaign trail, how's he going to be a question mark i assured the president, and he is a total pr pro. you have to know the people of the fbi. >> the president turns to you and says, i never brought up 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, i'm asking you potentially for something in return? >> i wasn't sure what to make of it. that's possible, but it was so out of context that i didn't have a clear view of what it was. >> on a number of occasions, you bring up the general russia investigation. on page six of your testimony, you say, the first thing you say, he asked what we could do to lift the cloud and he responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and there would be great benefit if we
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didn't find anything having done the work well and he agreed. do you reemphasize the problem was causing, he agreed. the president agreed with her statement. this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda, is that accurate? >> s. he went further than that. he said of some of my satellites did something wrong, that would be good to find out. >> he said if one of my satellites, i imagine he means the people surrounding his campaign does something wrong, it would be great to know that as well. are those the only two instances in which that back-and-forth happened with the president when he was basically saying, 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 of people around they were doing things that were wrong? >> yes. that was a sentiment he was
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expressing. >> when it comes down to is the president asked for your loyalty and you said you would be loyally honest -- >> honestly loyal. >> asked you on one occasion to let the mike flynn tingle because he he was a good guy. he's the same thing to the press the next day. i imagine your fbi -- the president's wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had the press conference with the prime minister. the three requests were number one, be loyal, number two, let the mike flynn thing go, he is 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, you've told me three times, that i met under investigation? >> those of the three things he asked, yes, sir. >> this investigation is full of leaks left and right. we've learned more from a
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newspaper is that we do from our open hearings. do you wonder why of all the things in the investigation with him at has not been leaked as a fact of the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that both democrats and republican and leadership of congress knew that and 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 those senior leaders of the fbi that you shared these conversations with? >> as i said, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, jeopardy directors, chief of counsel, and more often than not, the number three person at the fbi, the associativity director and quite often, the head of the national security branch. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comay, welcome. you and i have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting
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americans from secure encryption. i believe the timing of your firing stinks. 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 on january honey seven, all in one dinner president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against him. all took place over one supper. you told senator warner that the president was looking to 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'd go that far. i got the sense that my job would be contingent upon how he felt i conducted myself and whether i demonstrated loyalty. i don't know whether i'd go so far as to connect -- >> was the president trying to create some sort of patronage relationship? in a patronage relationship, isn't the underlying expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss? >> yes, or at least consider how you 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
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attorney general's own interactions with the russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership with the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment as i recall is that he was very close to an 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 russian related investigation problematic and so we were convinced, and fact i think we had already heard that the career people were recommending he would recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with russian related matters much longer. that turned out to be the case. >> how would you characterize attorney general sessions' reference to his recusal in particular in regard to his involvement in your firing which the president has acknowledged
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was because of the russian investigation? >> that's a question i can't answer. i think it's a reasonable question. if the president -- if as the president said i was fired on the russian mitigation, i don't know. i don't have an answer for that 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 the effect be on the investigation? >> we would have closed any investigation of general flynn in connection with his statements and encounters with russians. we would have dropped an open criminal investigation. >> in effect, when you talk
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about infecting the enterprise, you have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the emergent people to get the facts. >> correct. as good as our people are, our judgment was we don't want them hearing that the president of the united states wants us to go away. it might have an effect on their ability to be fair, impartial, and aggressive. >> the acting attorney general gates 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 to 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? >> all i can say is that the
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special counsel's investigation is very important in understanding what efforts there were or are by the russian government to influence our government, it's a critical part of the fbi's mission. you have the right person in bob mueller to lead it. >> vice president pence was the head of the transition period to your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about michael flynn prior to or during general flynn's tenure as national security advisor? >> i don't -- including up to the time when flynn was forced to resign? my understanding was that he was and i'm trying to remember where i get that understanding from. i think from acting attorney general yates. >> her concerns were discussed
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with the intelligence community. with that have included anyone at the cia or dan coats is office at the dnr? >> i would assume, yes. >> michael flynn resigned four days after 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. >> finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. besides the letters from the attorney general, deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or have been involved in your firing? >> i don't. >> thank you.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with all requests to appear before this committee. i want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, the three conversations and what 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 investigations? >> i didn't use the term counterintelligence, i was speaking to him and breathing
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him about some salacious and unverified material. it was in the context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true in my reading of it was that it was important for me to assure him, we are not personally investigating him. the context of then was actually narrower, focused on what i would just talking to him about. i was very much about being in kind of a j. edgar hoover type situation. i didn't want him thinking that i was briefing him on this to sort of hanging 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 didn't want to keep that from him. he needed to know this is being said, but i was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him and so that's the context in which i said, we are not personally investigating
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you. >> and that's why you volunteered the information, correct? >> yes, ma'am, . the >> on the generator and a seventh dinner, you told the president he should be careful about asking you to investigate because you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally which we weren't. again, or eliminating that statement statement to counterintelligence investigations or more broadly, such as the criminal investigation? >> i didn't modify the word investigation, again, he was reacting strongly into that unverified material saying i'm tempted to order you to investigate it and in the context of that, i said you want to be careful about that because it may create a narrative we are in risk and you personally. >> then there was the march 30th phone call with the president when she reminded him that congressional leaders had been
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briefed that the fbi was not personally investigating president trump. 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 amended or stood, i apologize we briefed leadership on what open cases we had on counterintelligence and we specifically said the president is not one of those americans. there was no other investigation of the president that we are mentioning at that time. the context was counterintelligence, but i wasn't trying to hide some criminal investigation of the president. >> was the president under investigation at the time of
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your dismissal on may 9th? >> no. >> i'd like to now turn to the conversations with the president about michael flynn. which have been discussed at great length. first, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you, as he reported, to let it go. let the investigation go. i remain puzzled by your response. your response was i agree that michael flynn is a good guy. you could have said, mr. president, this meeting is an appropriate, 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 this
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kind of political pressure. you've talked a bit today that you were stunned by the president making the request. 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 explained that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-a-vis the fbi? >> in general, i did. i spoke to the attorney general and i spoke to the new deputy attorney general when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the fbi. i specifically told the attorney general, it can't happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. in the room -- it was of
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investigative interest to us to figure out what just happened. i would not have wanted to alert the white house that it had happened until he figured out, what are you going to do with this investigative leak? >> 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
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done that with two previous presidents? >> as i said, a combination of things. a gut feeling about 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. really, just a gut feeling on top of all that that this is going to be important to protect this organization that i make records of this. >> finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice question work >> yes. >> to whom did you show copies? >> the president tweeted on friday after i got fired that i better hope there's not tapes. i woke up in the middle 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. my judgment was i needed to get that out into the public square.
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i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with the reporter. i didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. i have to close friend of mine to do it. >> who was that? >> a good friend of mine who is a professor at columbia law school. >> thank you. >> 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, dinner, no. i had to one on ones with president obama that i laid out in my testimony, want to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement race which was an important topic throughout for me and the president and once very briefly for him to say goodbye. >> or those brief interactions? >> no. the one about law enforcement
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and race in 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? did that strike you as odd question rick >> yes, so much so that i assume there would be others that he couldn't possibly be handing dinner with me alone. >> did you have an impression that if you had found -- if you had behave differently in that dinner and i am quite pleased that you did not, but if you found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less seriously, do you think you still would have been fired? >> i don't know. it's impossible to say looking back, i don't know.
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>> felt like those two things were directly relevant to the kind of relationship of the president was seeking to establish with you? >> sure, yes. >> the president has repeatedly talked about the russian investigation into the u.s. or the brushes involvement in the u.s. election cycle is a hoax and as fake news. can you talk a little bit about what you saw as fbi director and obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in first place? >> yes, sir, . there should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. the russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. they did it with purpose, sophistication, overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an
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active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. there is no on that. it is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. it's not a close call. that happen. that's is on fake 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 party. >> that was a hostile act by the russian government against this country question rick >> yes, sir. >> did the president in any of those interactions that you should 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? >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> never? >> no. not with president trump. i've had a fair number of
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meetings on that with president obama. >> do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by russia's actions in our election? >> i can't answer that because i don't know what other conversations he had with other advisors and other intelligence community leaders, so i don't know. >> did you have 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 sixth. i could be wrong, but i don't remember any conversations with him at all about that. >> as you are very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner, you told us the president asked you to back off the flynn investigation, the president told a reporter at -- >> not in that dinner. >> fair enough. he told a reporter that he never did that.
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you testified that the president asked for your loyalty and 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, you can't cherry pick it. you can't say i like these things, but on this, he's a dirty rotten liar. i've tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate. a significant fact to me is that why did he kicked everybody out of the oval office? why would you kick the attorney general, the president, chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? that to me as an investigator
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was a significant fact. >> as we look at the testimony or communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistencies. >> when looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing. >> thank you. there are reports of the incoming trump administration either during the transition and/or after inauguration tried to set up a sort of factor communication channel with the russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, their facilities. whoa to 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 intelligence services? >> i'm not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting. the risk is obvious. used by the russians the cost and effort of having to break
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into our communications channels by using theirs. so you make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations and to use those to the benefit of russia against the united states. >> the memos that you wrote, did you write all nine of them anyway that was designed to prevent them from needing classification? >> no. on a few of the occasions, i sent emails to my chief of staff or others on some of the brief phone conversations that i recall. the first one was a classified briefing, it was in a conference room at trump tower. it was a classified briefing so i wrote that on a classified device, the one i started typing -- there was a classified laptop. >> any reason and a classified environment that this committee, it would not be appropriate to seacoast medications at least from your perspective? >> no. >> thank you.
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>> 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 would have significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions you made. if the president had an terminated your services, would you still be 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 continue to show forth the next day? >> yes, sir. >> 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 30th, i told him we are
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not invest getting them personally. that's true. >> the concern to me there is that all these things are going on, you know in retrospect or at least for this committee, you had serious concerns about what the president, you believe directed you to do and taken no action, hadn't even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is a chain of command, that these things happen. do you have a sense of that looking back at that was a mistake? >> know, in fact, i think no action was the most important thing i could do to make sure there was no interference with the investigation. >> 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 with his conversation with the russian ambassador. which was essentially misleading the vice president and others.
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>> correct and i won't get into the details. >> any suggestion 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. no one has ever been prosecuted for violating the logan act. my sense would be, the discussion, not the problem, misleading investigators. >> that's fair, yes, sir, . >> had you previously to february 14th discussed with the president anything you're investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to flynn? >> no, sir. >> he said he is 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 the action was, wrote it up,
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briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it, and made a decision, we are going to hold us and see what you make of it on the road. >> it wasn't that not briefing menu had no responsibility to report out to the justice department in some way? >> i think at some point, i don't know what director mueller will do with it, but i thought we would briefing to the team in charge of the case, but our judgment was in the short term, it doesn't make sense -- i reported to the attorney general, that's why i stressed he shouldn't be kicked out of the room. >> 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? >> why stress was a little broader than just the room. i said i report to you, it's very important you be between me and the white house. >> after that discussion of the
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attorney general, did you take phone calls with the president question right >> yes, sir. >> what did you just say i'm not taking the call, you need to talk to the attorney general? >> i did on the on the april 11th a call >> i don't want to run out of time. in reading your testimony, january 3rd, january 27th, and march 30th, on all three of those occasions, you unsolicited by the president made a point to him that he was not a target of the investigation. >> correct. >> at the march 30th was very interesting. you said even though -- that was the 27th where you said why don't you look into that dossier thing where you said, you may not want that because them he couldn't tell you -- we couldn't
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answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. you didn't seem to be answering that question anyhow. the 1 one on answered questions seem to be that. i don't want to fail to follow up on this later, you said after you were dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information to the public media. what kind of information was that? what kind of information did you go to a friend? >> the flynn conversation, that the president asked me to let -- i'm forgetting my exact own words, the conversation in the oval office. >> you didn't consider your memo or your sense of the conversation to be a government document, you considered it to be somehow your own personal document that you could share with the media as you wanted to? >> correct. 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. it was very important to get it out. >> were all of your other memos yours is a private citizen? >> i'm not following the question. >> you said you would use -- >> i don't have them anymore, i give them to the special counsel, but my view was that the content of those unclassified memorialization's, those conversations were my recollections recorded. >> why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party? >> i was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point and i was going out of town with my wife and i worried it would be like feeding sequels at the beach if it was i who gave it to the media so i had my friend get it out. >> what you do is create a source close to the former director of the fbi as opposed
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to just taking responsibility yourself for saying here are these records. like everybody else, i have other things i like to get into, but i'm out of time. >> incorporated u. at first i would like to acknowledge senator blumenthal and nelson. mr. comey, a broad question. was the russian activity and the 2016 election a one-off proposition or is this part of a long-term strategy? will they be back? >> it's a long-term practice of theirs. ed stepped up a notch and a significant way and '16, they'll be back. the >> that's very important for the american people to understand, this is very much a forward-looking investigation and terms of how do we understand what they did and how do we prevent it?
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that's a big part of our role here. >> yes, sir. it's not a republican or democrat thing, it's an american thing. they're going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of and they are not devoted to either in my experience, there are about their own advantage and they will be back. >> i don't think putin is a republican or democrat, he is an opportunist. >> i think that's a fair statement. >> with regard to several of his conversations, and his interview with lester holt on nbc, 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 anyway initiate that dinner? >> noel. he called me at my desk at lunch time and asked me, was a free for dinner that night? he called himself and said can you come over for dinner tonight? i said yes, sir, he said will 6:00 work? then he said it was going to
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invite your whole family, but will do that next time. i just want you to come over, is that a good time customer gray said sir, whatever works for you. then he said how about 6:30? i say whatever works for you and i hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. i was supposed to take her to dinner that night. >> it that's one of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date. >> in retrospect, i love spending him of my wife, i should have had dinner with her. >> that's one question i will follow-up. in that same interview, the president said in one case, i called him and in one case, he called me. is that accurate? >> no. >> did you ever call the president? >> no. the only reason i'm hesitating, 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 his press conference on may 18th, the president was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation
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and michael flynn. the present responded, no, no, next question. is that accurate question work >> i don't believe it is. >> with regard to the question of him being 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. it's director miller's responsibility now, so i don't know. >> clearly, your statements to those presidents during these times when you assured him he wasn't under investigation were as of that moment. >> correct. >> 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 and an
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open setting. >> certainly, mr. flynn was part of the so-called russian investigation, can answer that? >> i have to give you the same answer. >> will be having a closed session shortly, so we'll follow up on that. in terms of his comments to you in response to senator risch, he said i hope you will hold back on that. when the president of the united states in the oval office says something like i hope or suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive? >> yes. it rings in my ear as will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest? >> i was going to quote that. that is exactly the same situation, we are thinking along the same lines.
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several other questions and these are more detailed. what do you know about the russian p.e.d.? >> nothing that i can talk about an open setting. i know it exists. >> it you it exists. what is the relationship of ambassador -- the ambassador from russia to the united states to the russian intelligence infrastructure? >> he's a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the russian embassy which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. surely, he's winning of their very, very aggressive intelligence operations, at least some in the united states. i don't consider him to be an intelligence officer himself, he's a a diplomat. >> did the fbi ever brief the trump administration about the advisability of interacting
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directly with the ambassador? >> all i can say sitting here as there were a variety of defensive briefings giving to the end coming and administration about the counterintelligence risks. >> back to mr. flynn, would closing out the flynn investigation have impeded the overall russian investigation? >> no. unlikely, except -- there's always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring in and squeeze them and flip them, they give you information about somebody else, but i saw the two as touching each other, but separate. >> with regard to your memos, isn't it true that and a court case when you're weighing evidence, contemporaneous memos and statements to third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of
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testimony? >> yes. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman. >> senator langford. >> director comey, good to see you again. if we have have multiple opportunities to speak. i've told you before, we had the opportunity to visit personally last year, i pray for you and your family because you do carry a tremendous amount of stress and that's true today. let me walk through a couple things with you. your notes are exceptionally important because they give a very rapid account of what you wrote down and perceived happened in those different meanings. have you had an opportunity to be able to reference those notes when you're preparing the written statement that you've been put forth today? >> yes. nearly all of my written recordings of my conversations, i had a chance to review them before filing my statement. >> do have a copy of any of
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those nose personally? >> i don't, i turned them over to bob mueller's investigation. >> did "the new york times" have a copy of those memos? >> had a copy of the time. >> do they still have a copy question rick >> that's a good question. i think so, i can't say for sure sitting here. >> the question is, it could you ask them to him that copy back to use you could hand them over to this committee? >> potentially. >> i would like to move that from potential to see if we can ask my question so we can have a copy of those. obviously, those notes are exceptionally important to us so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it. as you know, the written document's are exceptionally important. are there ocular documents we need to be aware of that would assist us? >> not that i'm aware of, no.
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>> passed february the 14th meeting which is very important as we discussed, the conversations about michael flynn. when the president asked you about he hoped he would let this go and the conversation went back and forth about him being a good guy, after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about michael flynn again to you? >> no, i don't remember him bringing it up. >> did any member of the white house staff come to you and talk to about letting go of the michael flynn case or dropping it or anything referring to that question rick >> no. >> to the director of national intelligence? >> no. >> did the head of nsa talk to about that? no. the key aspect here, if this seems to be something the president is trying to get a drop, it seems like a pretty light touch to drop it like to bring it up at that moment, the day after he had just fired
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flynn? did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that might be occurring with michael flynn? >> no, i don't know that there any manifestations. i don't know that the president would have any way of knowing whether it was effective or not. >> fair enough. >> if the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that? knowing it's an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation, would that be a matter of trying to go to you 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 into this better, but as a legal manner, the president's head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, that anybody
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be investigated or not be investigated. he has a legal authority. >> would that be to you, the attorney general, who would do that? >> if he wanted to issue a direct order, he could do it anyway. he could do it through the attorney general or directly to me. >> is any question of the president is not real fond of this investigation? i can think of multiple expressions that he is done publicly to express is not fond of the investigation. you share before that you're trying to keep the agents who are working on it away from any comment president may have made. frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people. do you think there's a difference in that? >> yes. there's a big difference in kicking superior officers out of
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the oval office, looking fbi director in the eye and saying i hope you let this go. with our agents as good as they are, there is a risk of a chilling effect on their work. that's all we could it so tight. >> you mentioned before about some news stories and accounts, without having to go into all the names and the specific times and being able to dip into all of that, have there been accounts about the russian investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations, that as he read the story, you are stunned with how wrong they got the facts? >> yes. many, many stories based on classified information about lots of stuff, but especially about russia they're 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 does something wrong, it would be good to find that out. did the president seem to talk to you specifically on march 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, as i how you took it question rick >> yes, sir, yes. >> then you made a comment earlier about the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation and the clinton emails saying they had been asked not to call it an investigation, but to call it. you had said that confused you. can you give us additional details on that? >> it concerned me because we are fused to confirm the existence for months and i was beginning to look silly the clinton campaign at the time is using all kinds of euphemisms, security review, matters, things like that for what was going on. we were getting to a place where
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the attorney general and i were both going to testify and talk publicly about it and i wanted to know, was she going to authorize us that we had an investigation? she said yes, but don't call it that, quality matter. i said, why would i do that? she said, just quality matter. you look back in hindsight and say should i resist it harder? i said this isn't worth dying on, so i just said okay. the press will ignore it and that's what happened. i said we have opened a matter, they all reported the fbi has opened an investigation. that concern me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the fbi's work and that's concerning. >> it gave the impression of the campaign was -- you are handed the campaign language. >> i don't know whether was intentional or not, but it gave the impression that the attorney general is looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way political
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campaign was describing this activity which wasn't accurate. we had a criminal investigation open. we had an investigation about the time so that gave me a queasy feeling. >> thank you. >> i appreciate you being here. west virginia is very interested in this hearing that we are having today. i've had over 600 requests for questions to ask you for my fellow west virginians. most of them have been asked and there's quite a few that are detailed. i want to thank you first of all for coming and agreeing to be here, 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. >> it was quite troubling. my colleagues had some very pointed questions they wanted answers to, they were classified. they refused to answer. that makes us much more
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appreciative of your cooperatio cooperation. >> the seriousness of the russia investigations -- involvement -- people said, why are we worried about this? can you tell me what your thoughts are? the final thing is on the same topic. did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about the russians russians were doing? >> as i said earlier, i don't remember any conversations with the president about the russia election interference. >> did he ever ask you questions about this? >> there was an initial briefing about our findings and i believe there was a conversation where he asked questions about what we had filed found. we have this big messy wonderful country where we fight each
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other all the time, but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other americans. that's wonderful and painful, but we are talking about a foreign government that used technical intrusion and other methods to try and shape the way we think, we vote, we act. that is a big deal. people need to recognize it, it's on about republic and's 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 this great experiment of ours is a threat to them so they're going to try and 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. >> this is extremely important and dangerous. do you believe there were any
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tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president? >> and never occurred to me until the president's tweet. i hope there are and all consent to the release. >> both of you are in the same findings. you hope there are tapes and recordings. >> all i can do is hope. the president truly knows whether he taped me and if he did, my feelings aren't hurt. release all the tapes. i'm good with it. >> do you believe robert mueller will be thorough and complete without political intervention? >> yes, bob mueller 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's turned over all the rocks. >> something i often ask folks
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when they come here, what details of this saga should be focusing on, what would you recommend? >> i don't know. one of the reasons i'm pleased to be here is 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 a quarter inches of the country, so i would hope you keep doing what you're doing. it's good in and of itself, but it's also a good model, especially for kids that we are a functioning democracy. >> you also mentioned you had six meetings, three times in person, six on the phone, nine times with the president. did he ever allude that you are not performing adequately? >> know, in fact, the contrary quite often. he called me one day, i was about to get on a helicopter, the head of the dea was waiting in the helicopter for me and he
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just called to check in and tell me i was doing an awesome job. he wanted to see how i was doing. i said i'm doing fine, sir. then i finished the call and got on the helicopter. >> do you think you had been fired if hillary clinton would have become president question work >> that's a great question, i don't know. i don't know. >> any thoughts? >> i might have been, i don't know. i said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. i think i did but i had to do, and it was going to be very bad for me personally. the consequences might have been me being terminated, i really don't know. >> my final question. after february 14th, you mentioned u.s. attorney general sessions to assure they were never left alone with the president. did you ever consider why attorney general sessions was not asked to stay in the room?
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>> oh sure, i did and i have. >> you never had a discussion question rick >> no, not at all. >> on any of your meetings? >> no. >> did he show any inquiry whatsoever about the meeting was about? >> no. i did say to him, i'd forgotten this. when i talk to him and said you have to be between me and the president, is incredibly important and i forgot my exact words. i pass along the president's message about the importance of aggressively pursuing leaks of classified information which is a goal i share. i passed that along to the attorney general, i think it was the next morning in a meeting, but i did not tell him about the flynn part. >> do you believe this will rise to the objection of justice question rick >> i don't know, that's bob mueller's job to sort that out. >> thank you.
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>> mr. chairman? >> senator cotton. >> will you encourage your friend to release the memos? >> sure. >> you say you did not record any other memos, did you do so with attorney general sessions or any other senior member of the trump department of justice? >> no. >> did you record conversations a memos with any other senior member of the obama department of justice? >> no, not that i recall. the >> and your statement for the record, you cite nine private conversations. what happened to those phone calls? >> the president called me
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shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on january 6th. he just wanted to reiterate his rejection of the allegation and said he thought about it more and why he thought it wasn't true. during that call, he asked me, i hope you're going to stay, you're doing a great job and i told him i intended to. there was another phone call that i mentioned, i might have the date wrong, march 1st where he called to check in with me as i would want to get on the helicopter. it was a secure call we had about an operational manner that was not related to any of this. it's something the fbi was working on, he wanted to make sure that i understood how important it was. it was totally appropriate. the fourth call, i'm probably forgetting, i may have meant the
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call when he invited me to dinner. i'll think about it as i'm answering other questions, but i think i got that right. >> let's turn our attention to the underlying activity, russia's hacking into those emails and releasing them. do you believe donald trump colluded with russia? >> that's 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. that's a question that will be answered by the investigation i think. >> let me turn to a couple statements by my colleague senator feinstein. she had access to information that only she would. on may 3rd, she was asked, do you believe that there was evidence of collusion between the trump campaign, chance or
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not at that time. on may 18th, she was asked has anything changed? senator feinstein said well no, no, it hasn't. do you have any reason to double statements? >> i don't doubt that senator feinstein was saying what she understood. i don't want to go down that path because i'm not in the government anymore and answering in the negative, i worry leads me deeper and deeper into talking about the investigation and open setting. i'm trying to be fair, i don't want to suggest by my answer something nefarious, but i don't want to get into the business of saying not as to this person or that person. >> on february 14th, "the new york times" published a story. you are asked earlier if that was an inaccurate story, you said in the name.
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is it fair to characterize that story is all most entirely wrong? >> yes. >> at the time of that story was published, did you have any indication of contact between trump's people and russian intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the russian government? >> i can't answer that sitting here. >> we can discuss that in classified setting. i want to turn your attention to mr. flynn. i understand there are other issues with mr. flynn. those are serious allegations that i'm sure will be pursued. i want to talk about interactions with the russian ambassador. there is a story on generate 23rd in "the washington post"
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that is entitled, fbi reviewed with russian ambassador, but found nothing illicit. is this accurate? >> i don't want to comment on that because i'm pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications. >> would it be improper for an end coming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador? >> and my experience, no. >> you can't confirm or deny that the conversation happened or even the contents of that conversation? >> i can't talk about that and open setting. i've been out of the government a month so i also don't want to talk about things when it's not someone else's responsibility. and the classified setting, we more. >> you stated that there was not an open investigation of mr. flynn in the fbi -- did you
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or any other fbi agent sense that mr. flynn attempted to make false statements to an fbi agen agent? >> i don't want to go too far. that was the subject of the criminal inquiry. >> did you come close to closing the investigation of mr. flynn? >> i can't talk about that and open setting either. >> in 2004, you are part of a well-publicized event of an intelligence program that had been recertified several times in your acting attorney general when john ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. there was a dramatic showdown at the hospital. the next day, you said you wrote a letter of resignation before you went to meet with president bush. is that accurate?
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>> yes, i think so. >> at any time when you are the fbi director during the trump administration, did you ever write and sign a letter of recommendation -- resignation and leave it on your desk? >> no. >> despite all these things you testified to here today, you didn't feel this rose to the level of a serious difference of legal opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyer lawyers? >> i would not characterize the circumstances in 2004 that way. no, i didn't encounter any circumstance that led me to and tend to resign or considered to resign, no, sir, . >> i want to commend you. each musket 7 minutes instead of five to ask you questions. thank you.
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you and i are both former prosecutors, i want to make a statement. in 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 hope was not the most operative word at that moment. you have to respond to that. i have a series of questions to ask you and they are going to start with are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and russian officials during the campaigns that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the white house? >> that's not a question i can answer in an open setting. >> are you aware of any efforts by trump campaign officials or associates to hide their communications with russian officials through encrypted communications or other means
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questioning >> i have to give the same answer. >> in the course of the fbi, did you come across anything that suggested that communications had been destroyed? >> same answer. it would touch on investigative matters. >> are you aware of any efforts are potential efforts to consult medications between campaign officials and russian officials? >> same answer. >> is a former attorney general, i have a series of questions about your connections with the attorney general. what is your understanding of the parameters of general sessions recusal from the russian investigation? >> i think it's described in a written release or statement, but that just was, he would be recused from all matters relating to russia and the campaign or activities of russia in the election.
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>> 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 documentation before he was accused? >> i don't know. >> after he was recused? >> same answer. >> what mechanism was in place to make sure he did not have any part in the investigation to your knowledge? >> i'm not sure. i know he consulted with career ethics officials, but i don't know what mechanism he set up. >> the attorney general recused himself, but do believe it was appropriate for him to be involved on the firing of the chief investigator of that case?
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>> that's something i can't answer sitting here. it's a reasonable question. what did he know, what was he told, what was the president doing? i don't know the answer. >> it you've mentioned in your written testimony and hear that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. are you aware of him making the same request of any other member? >> i am not. >> do you know one way or another? >> i don't. i've never heard anything about it. >> you mentioned that you had the conversation where he would hope you let the flynn matter go on february 14th or thereabouts. it was 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?
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>> in theory, sure because easy attorney general. i don't know whether he had any contact with those materials. >> did you speak to the attorney general about the russian investigation before his recusal? >> i don't think so, no. >> do you know if anyone in the department, and the fbi forwarded any documents or information or memos of any sort to the attention of the attorney general before he was recused? >> i don't know of any or remember any sitting here. it's possible, but i don't remember. >> do you know if the attorney general was involved in any aspect of the russian investigation after his recusal? >> i don't, i would assume not,
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but let me say it this way, i don't know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the russian investigation after the recusal. >> in your written testimony, you indicate that after your left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was an appropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. apparently, he did not reply. what did he do? did he look at you and pause for a moment? >> i don't remember real clearly. i have a recollection of him looking at me. there's a danger i'm projecting onto him, so this may be faulty, but his body linkage gave me a sense of what am i going to do? >> did he shrug? >> i don't remember clearly. the reason i have an impression, i have some recollection -- what am i going to do? i don't have a clear recollection. he didn't say anything.
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>> on that same february 14th meeting, you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. after that meeting however, he received two calls from the president, march 30th and april 11th. when the president talked about a cloud over his presidency. has anything you've learned in the months since our february 14th meeting changed your understanding of the president's request? i guess it would be what he said in public documents or public interviews. >> correct. >> is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or is not being informed of seeking the truth? >> no. the apartment of a special counsel should offer great, especially given who the person is, great comfort to americans, no matter what your political affiliation is that this will be done independently, confidently, and honestly. >> it should he a full authority
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to pursue that investigation? >> yes, and knowing him well over the years, if there is something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it. >> he should have full independence question rick >> oh, yeah, and he wouldn't be part of it if you would not get full independence. >> mr. comey, i'll repeat what i 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 voluntarily and cooperate with our investigation. as a general matter, if an fbi agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do 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 a cultural
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ethical duty to report it. >> you're unsure whether they would have a legal duty question marks. that's a good question, i've not thought about that. there is a statute that says knowing of a felony and taking steps to conceal it, but this is a different question. i would expect any fbi agent with information to report it. where your rest that obligation, i don't know. and >> let me ask 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? >> >> it does make a lot of sene to me, but i'm obviously biased given that i was the one fired. >> i understand it's personal. >> i meant what i said. no indispensable people in the world, including the fbi. there's lots of bad things about
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me not being of the fbi, most of them are for me, but the work will go on as before. >> nothing that's happened has impeded the investigation of the fbi or director mueller's commitment to get to the bottom of this from a standpoint of the fbi and the department of justice, would you agree? >> correct. especially the appointment of director mueller. >> let me take you back to the clinton email investigation. you've been cast as a hero or a villain, depending on whose political ox is being gored. you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting attorney general, libretto lynch when it came to the clinton email investigation. you mentioned that you were asked to accept that it was a
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matter and not a criminal investigation which it was. there is a matter of president clinton's meeting on the tarmac with the sitting attorney general at the time when his wife was subject to a criminal investigation and you suggested that perhaps there were other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting, but it seems to me that you truly believe that loretta lynch had an appearance of a conflict of interest, is that correct? >> that's fair. i didn't believe she could credibly decline that investigation, at least without damage to the department of justice. >> under department of justice is fbi norms, would it be appropriate for the attorney general or if she had recused herself, which she did not do to appoint a special counsel? that's essentially what happened now with director mueller.
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>> it's certainly possible, yes. >> missed lynch had been requested several times to appoint special counsel. >> from congress, she was repeatedly asked. >> yours truly did on multiple occasions. 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. after 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 would be an unfair thing to do because i knew there was no case there. i know this is a subject of
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passionate disagreement, but i knew there was no case there and in calling for the appointment of special counsel, it would be brutally unfair because it would send a message that there is something here. a lot of people have different views, but that's what i thought. >> if a special counsel had been appointed, they might could have made that determination that there was nothing there. >> it would have been many months later or a year later. >> let me just ask you, given the experience the clinton email investigation and what happened there, do you think it's unreasonable for anyone, any president who has been assured on multiple occasions that he is not the subject of an fbi investigation, do you think it's unreasonable for them to want the fbi director to publicly announce that so that this cloud
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over his administration would move? >> i think that's a reasonable point of view. the concern would be obviously, if that boomerang comes back, it would be a very big deal because it would be a duty of correct. >> we saw that in the clinton email investigation. >> i recall that. >> i know you do. let me ask you finally and this minute 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's a political appointee in one sense, but has a duty of independence to pursue the law. when the president asks you about loyalty, you have this back and forth about pledging my honesty. that looks like that you agreed
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from honest loyalty. it is at the characterization? >> yes. >> thank you very much. >> there have been press reports that the president, , and additn to asking you to drop the flynn investigation have had other senior intelligence officials to take steps which would tend to undermine the investigation into russia. they have been reports that he is asked dan coates and admiral rogers to make public statements exonerating him, and also reports that he asked director pompeo to intervene and reach out to the fbi. are you aware or do you have any information with respect to
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these allegations question rick >> i don't. i'm aware of the public reporting, but i have no contact, no conversation with any of those leaders 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 testified that the president asked you to lift the cloud by essentially making public statements. >> i didn't do it, i didn't refuse the president, i told him we would see what we could do in the second time he called, i told him that's something your lawyer ought to take up with the justice department. >> part of the underlying problem is the duty to correct. that is a theoretical issue, but
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also a practical issue. the direction of the investigation, dominic >> and theory, as i explained, would my senior leader colleagues, if you're looking at potential coordination between the campaign in russia, the head of the campaign is the candidate, so logically this person argued that the candidates knowledge, understanding would logically become a part of your inquiry. i understood that argument. my view was that what i said to the president was accurate and fair and fair to him. i resisted the idea of publicly saying it. the justice department wanted me to, i would have done it. >> again, also, you've testified that the president asked you repeatedly to be loyal to him
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and he responded that you would be honest lay loyal. which a jury of saying i'll be honest and the head of the fbi. is that fair? >> correct. i try to be honest first. i also tried to explain to him why it's in his interest and every president's interest for the fbi to be a part in a way because its credibility is important to a president and the country. i tried to hold the line, it got very awkward and i then said, you'll always have honesty from me, he said honest loyalty and i use that as a way to end the awkwardness. >> there was an excellent nation, i just don't buy it. >> yes. do you believe that you were fired because he refused to take the president's direction? is that the ultimate reason? >> i don't know for sure.
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i know i was fired because of something about the way i was conducting the rush investigation. it was in some way putting pressure on him and in some way irritating him so he decided to fire me because of that. i can't go farther than that. >> the russian investigation, as you've pointed out, and as all of my colleagues have pointed out, is one of the most serious hostile acts against this country in our history, undermining the very core of our democracy. it is not a discrete event. it will likely occur, it's probably being prepared now for a pottery 18, '20, and beyond he then shows up in the oval office with the russian prime minister, first after classifying u.s. crazy an end a nut job, which i think you have disproved this morning.
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he said i face great pressure because of russia that's taken off. >> your conclusion would be that the president is downplaying the seriousness of this threat. in fact, he took the specific steps to stop a thorough investigation of the russian investigation. also, from what you've said, it doesn't seem to particularly interest that these hostile threats. >> i don't know that i can agree to the level of detail. there is no doubt that it's a fair judgment, is my judgment that i was fired because of the rush investigation. i was fired in some way to change, the endeavor was to change the way the investigation is being conducted. that's a very big deal. not just because it involves me. the nature of the fbi and the nature of its work requires that
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it not be the subject of political consideration. on top of that, you have the russian investigation itself is vital because of the threat. i should have said this earlier, but it's obvious. if any americans were part of helping the russians do that to us, that is a very big deal. i'm confident that if that is the case, director mueller will find that evidence. >> the president tweeted that james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation before you start slicking to the press. was that a rather unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying and intimidate anyone else who crosses his path of not doing it? >> i'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets. to me, it's a major impact was it occurred to me in the middle the night, there might be tapes and if there are tapes, it's not just my word against his on the
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direction to get rid of the flynn 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. yet at the same time, in the case of mr. comey, you said that there is not enough information to make a conclusion. tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former
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secretary clinton is concerned and mr. trump. >> the clinton investigation was a completed investigation that the fbi have been deeply involved in. i was able to understand all the facts and apply those to the laws i understood them. this was still going when i was fired, so it's nowhere near in the same place, at least it wasn't. >> an investigation was going on, this investigation was going on, you've reached several conclusions. >> that was done. as of july 5th, the fbi completed its investigative work and that's what i was announcing, what we had done and what we had found.
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>> at least in the minds of this member, there are a whole lot of questions remaining about what went on, particularly considering the fact that as you mentioned, it's a big deal as to what went on during the campaig campaign. i'm glad you concluded that part of the investigation, but i think that the american people have a whole lot of questions out there, particularly since you just emphasized the role that russia played. obviously, she was a candidate for president at the time. she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it took place. you have to help me out here. in other words, was there a
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complete investigation and we don't have to worry about it? >> i'm a little confused. with respect to secretary clinton, we investigated a criminal investigation with use to her personal server and that's the investigation that i announce the conclusion of july 5th. >> at the same time, you said there will be no charges brought against then secretary clinton for any activities involved in this. i don't quite understand how you can be done with that, but not completely done with it the whole of their attempt to affect the outcome of our election. >> i'm sorry. when i left, when i was fired on may 9th, there was still an open active investigation to understand the russian efforts and whether americans work with them. >> reached the conclusion that there was no reason to bring
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charges against secretary clinton. you reached a conclusion in the case of mr. comey, president comey -- and the case of president trump, you have an ongoing investigation. you have 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. the clinton email investigation was completed. the investigation of russia's efforts with the election and whether there was any coordination and if so, with whom was ongoing when i left. >> it you just made it clear by calling it a big deal. it's hard to reconcile in one case they reach complete conclusion and the other side, you have not. in fact, there's a lot more there as we know, as you called
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it a big deal. she's one of the candidates. and her case, you said there will be no charges and in her case of president trump, the invitation continues. what has been brought out in this hearing is more and more emphasis on the russian engagement and involvement in this campaign. how serious do you think this was? >> very serious. i want to be clear. we have not announced and there was no medication to announce an investigation into whether the russians may have coordinated with the secretary clinton's campaign. >> they were involved with the entire presidential campaign obviously. >> that is an investigation that began last summer and as far as i'm aware, continues. >> so both president trump and
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former candidate clinton are both involved in the investigation, yet one of them, you said there will be no charges and the other one, the investigation continues. i think there's a double standard there to tell you the truth. when the president said to you, you talked about the april 11 phone call and he said because i've been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know. does that arouse your curiosity as to what 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 an effort to communicate to me that there is a relationship between us where i've been good to you, you should be good to me. >> i think it would arouse my curiosity whether the president of united states said we had that thing. i would like to know what the hell that thing is.
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particularly if i'm the director of the fbi. >> i get that. this is speculation. in his memory, he was searching back to our encounter at the dinner and was preparing himself to say, i offered loyalty to you. his memory showed him that did not happen and i think he pulled up short. that's just a guess. a lot of conversations with humans over the years. >> i would have had some curiosity if it would have been about me to be honest with you. are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that members of the administration or members of the campaign could potentially be used to coerce or blackmail the administration? >> that's a subject for investigation, it's awesome and i can comment on sitting here. >> you reached that conclusion as far as secretary clinton was concerned, but you're not
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reaching a conclusion as far as this administration is concerne concerned? are you aware of anything that would lead you to believe that information exists that could coerce members of the administration or blackmail the administration? >> that's in an question can answer. >> the time is expired. >> thank you. >> time has expired for the hearing. we will reconvene promptly at 1:00 p.m. in the hearing room. we have a vote scheduled for 1: 45. i would suggest all members promptly be there at 1:00. we have about 3 minutes -- i would like to have order. photographers, returned to where you work, please. this hearing is not adjourned yet.
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either that or we will remove you. >> members, we have about 3 minutes of updates who would love to cover as soon as we get into the closed session before we have an opportunity to spend some time with director comey. it would be my intentions to adjourn that close hearing between 2:00 and 2: ten and i would urge you to eat at that time. jim, several of us on this committee have enabled to work with you since you walked through the door. personally, on behalf of all of us, we are grateful to you for your service to your country, not just in the 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 work force that we are grateful to them with the level of that they have shown us, with the trust we've
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built between both organizations, the congress and the bureau. we cannot do our job if it wasn't for their willingness to share candidly with us the work that we need to see. this is the ninth public hearing this committee has had this yea 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 close hearing to encourage our members, not to freely talk about intelligence matters publicly, and to respect the fact that we have a huge jo job. 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
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provide you with tools to keep america safe and that you do it within the legal limit or those limits that are set by the executive branch. we could not do it if it wasn't for trust and partnership that you have been able to lead and others before you. as we depart from this, this is a pivotal hearing in our investigation. we are grateful to you and the professionalism that you've shown and your willingness. >> i sent they want to echo the thanks for your appearance and you still have a number of questions remaining. i want to commit to you and more importantly, i want to commit to all of those who are still potentially watching and following, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and we're going to get to the bottom of this, will get the facts out. the iraqi people deserve to know. there are the questions around implications of chump officials and russians, but there's also
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the macro issues over the russians did and continue to do. it is very important that all americans realize the threat is real, it is continuous, it is not just towards our nation. it's towards all western democracies and we have to come to a conclusion. >> director comey, thanks again. this hearing is adjourned. >> though you have it, two hours and 40 minutes of absently riveting testimony and frankly, this could have gone on another two hours and 40 minutes. a lot of people would probably like to see and hear a lot more. i picked out six or seven different headlines over the past two hours and 40 minutes and i'll start in chronological order. number one, senator byrd, did russia try to mess with our election? yes. the follow-up is critical. did russia succeed at changing any votes question at the answer, no, no evidence. i am confident from james comey. sena

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