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tv   MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin  MSNBC  March 20, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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collection under the foreign intelligence surveillance act of a person or individual located outside of the united states or the person you're collecting against, is the subject of a fisa court order, if incidental to that collection or inadvertently the collection results in the collection of communications of an incoming u.s. administration official are you required to cease collection? >> not automatically. >> thank you. so the answer is no, kr ekt? the reason why in this is important intuitively we know incoming administration would have conversations with those that the intelligence community may be collecting against, either by making phone calls to them or receiving phone calls to them. it's important to understand the minimization procedures intended to collect the privacy rights of americans do not inherently
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include a prohibition of the intelligence community incidentally or inadvertently collecting the communications of an incoming administration. >> yes, sir. >> mr. comey, any interception by the u.s. intelligence community of any communication of members of the incoming trump administration? >> that's not something i can comment on. >> why not? >> it might involve communications with the president of the united states and classified. both of the grounds i can't talk about it here. >> have you previously discussed your conversations with president obama with this committee? >> i don't remember.
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i don't remember with the full and ranking committee. >> we'll have to refresh your memory. mr. comey, did president obama ever acknowledge to you of having been briefed concerning possibly inadvertent or incidental collection or interception by the intelligence community of any communications of members of the incoming trump administration? >> i have to give you the same answer. >> we'll be following up with mr. clapper, he'll be appearing before us next week, and we'll certainly be directing the question to him also. mr. comey are you aware of any evidence that general flynn prior to the naugsration ever communicated to the russian government or russian government official that the trump administration in the future would release, rescind or reverse u.s. sanctions against
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russia or ever made any offer of a quid pro quo or releasing or reversing u.s. sanctions against russia? >> it's not something i can comment on mr. turner. >> why is that? >> i'm trying very hard not to talk about anything that relates to a u.s. person or that might rule in or rule out things we might be investigationing. i'm trying to be studiously vague to protect the integrity of the investigation so please don't interpret my no comment as meaning this or meaning that. i just can't comment. >> mr. are statutes guidelines and procedures concerning what it takes for the fbi to open up a counter intelligence investigation into a u.s. citizen. it is not subject to discretion. you can't say let's look at somebody. you have to have a basis. you've informed us that you've opened the counter intelligence investigation into the trump campaign, members of the trump campaign concerning russia in july of 2006. now, we're trying to get a
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picture of what does it take to tip over for an investigation. previously people have said that there have been individuals who attended a meeting with russian officials, individuals who remember was paid to attend a conference, a picture that was taken, traveled to a foreign place. there are many people both in all of our administrations and sometimes certainly members who have left congress who would qualify for that, what is the tipping point. it can't just be that. don't you need some action or some information besides just attending a meeting, having been paid to attend a conference that a picture was taken, or that you traveled to a country before you're open to investigation for counter intelligence by the fbi? >> the standard is i think there's a couple different at play, a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an american may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
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>> we have the statements of mr. clapper that there's no evidence of collusion with russia and he just left the intelligence communi community. we sit as you said admiral rogers the russians wanted to put a cloud over our system, and mr. comey by your announcement today, there is now a cloud that undermines our system, there is a cloud that where we're sitting with mr. clapper who is obviously in a very important position to know who stated to us there's no evidence of conclusion and you will not give us evidence or substantive evaluation of it. we now sit with this cloud and it's important, mr. chairman i have a few additional questions if i might gain time. >> thank you. >> i recognize representative jackie speier. >> thank you, mr. schiff and again, let's go back to this tarantula web.
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so mr. tillerson in 2014 started to lobby the united states government asking them to shift or lift the sanctions. now in his confirmation hearing he says, as he said, i have never lobbied against sanctions personally to my knowledge, exxonmobil never directly lobbied against sanctions, and yet there is lobbying reporting that shows that exxonmobil actually paid over $300,000 to lobbyists in 2014, and that mr. tillerson visited the white house five times in 2014, and treasury with secretary lu seven times. is there something disconcerting about a u.s. ceo attempting to
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undermine the sanctions imposed by our government against another country for acts that we find to be disadvantageous to the world order? director comey? >> that's not a question i can answer for a variety of reasons. i'm not qualified to answer and i shouldn't be answering questions like that. >> okay. how about this then. is it disconcerting to you as the director of the fbi that a u.s. ceo would say publicly that he is very close friends with president putin and has had a 17-year relationship with him? >> that's not a question i can answer. >> would it raise any red flags? >> that's not a question i can answer. >> admiral rogers? >> ma'am, lots of american
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corporations do business in russia. i have no knowledge of the specifics we're talking about. i'm in no way qualified or eligible enough to comment on this. >> all right, let's move on to someone else in that web. his name is michael caputo. he's a pr professional, conservative radio talk show host. in 1994, he moved to russia, and there he was working for the agency for international development. he was fired from that job because he refused to follow a state department position. he then opened a pr firm in moscow, and married a russian woman. he subsequently divorced her and then in 1999 his business failed. roger stone, a mentor to him, urged him to move to florida and open his pr firm in miami, which is exactly what mr. caputo did, and then in 2000, he worked with
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gas prom media to improve putin's image in the united states. now, do we know who gas prom media? >> i don't. >> no, ma'am. we >> it's an oil company. in 2007 he began consulting the ukrainian parliamentary campaign, there he met his second wife. so i guess my question is, what possible reason is there for the trump campaign to hire putin's image consultant? any thoughts on that director comb why i? >> no thoughts. >> admiral rogers? >> likewise, ma'am. >> all right. do either of you know what michael ka caputo is doing for trump effort today? >> i have no idea. >> i'm not going to talk about u.s. persons. >> let's move on now to carter
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page. carter page was the founder of global energy. it's an investment fund. he has only one partner, and that partner is sergei yatsenko, the former executive of a russian state-owned gas prom oil company. before that, from 2004 to 2007 he worked for merrill lynch in moscow. in march of 2016, then candidate trump referred to carter page as his foreign policy adviser to "the washington post." the next day page asserts his, that he's an adviser on russia and energy but then subsequently candidate trump says he doesn't know him. on september 26th, he takes a leave of absence from the campaign and page publicly
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supports a relationship with russia, criticizes u.s. sanctions and nato's approach to russia, saying and then subsequently says he's divesting his stake in gas prom in august. in 2014 he writes an article criticizing the u.s. sanctions praising sechin in an article in "global policy" and then rebuke the west for focusing on so-called annexation of crimea. in july of 2016 he gives a graduation speech at the new economic school, denies meeting with the prime minister, christopher steele in his dossier says he met with again igor sechin, offering a 19% interest in rosneft. it becomes the biggest transfer of public property to private ownership. now, carter page is a national
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security adviser to donald tr p trump. do you believe that -- why do we, i guess again, here's another company that has had sanctions imposed upon it. could you again clarify why we impose sanctions on companies? >> admiral rogers did it better than i so i'm going to tefr to him. >> i apologize, i don't remember the specifics of my answer but i'll stand by my answer previously. >> which was excellent. >> all right. i think at that point, i will yield back, mr. chair. >> i now yield to mr. quigley. >> thank you, mr. ranking member. gentlemen, thank you for your service, thank you for being here. we've talked a little bit about
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the russian playbook, right, extortion, bribery, false news, disinformation, they all sound very familiar, correct? well as we talk without think being anybody in the united states, just generally the russian playbook and how it's worked in, particularly eastern europe and central europe, a lot of it involves trying to influence individuals in that country, correct? >> yes. >> so what we've talked about a little bit today seems to be sort of a black and white notion of whether there was collusion, but does a russian active measure attempting to succeed at collusion, does the person involved have to actually know? does it have to involve knowing collusion for there to be damage? >> i can answer generally, in the world of intelligence oftentimes there are people who are called cooptees who don't
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realize they're dealing with agents of a foreign power and so are doing things for someone they think is a friend or a business associate, not realizing it's for the foreign government, so it can happen and it's actually quite a frequent technique. >> is it beyond that sometimes to include things where the actor doesn't necessarily know what they're doing, is helping that other government? >> exactly. >> and what are instances, just examples of what that might include in a generic sense in europe and so forth? >> oftentimes a researcher here in the united states may think they're dealing with a peer researcher in a foreign government, and not knowing that that researcher is either knowingly or unwittingly passing information to a foreign adversary of the united states. >> and can you explain and elaborate how this sort of problems with defining what collusion is, the differences
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that might be involved with explicit or implicit collusion? >> collusion is not a term, a legal term of art and one i haven't used here today as we're investigating to see whether there was any coordination between people seesassociated w the campaign -- >> explicit or implicit coordination. >> well i guess implicit -- i would think of it as knowing or unknowing. you can do things to help a foreign nation state as i said without realizing that you're dealing with, you think you're helping a buddy who is a researcher at a university in china, what you're actually doing is passing information that ends up with the chinese government. that's unwitting, i don't know whether it's the same as your implicit. explicit you know i'm sending this stuff to in china because i want to help the chinese government and i know he's hooked up with the chinese government. >> admiral rogers would you give other examples of what you've witnessed in your career. >> sometimes u.s. individuals will be approached by other
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individuals connected with foreign connections who will misrepresent not just the research, they'll assume an identity if you will, i want to you think that i'm actually working for a business, exploring a commercial interest, those kinds of things, create a relationship and then it turns out there really is no commercial interest here. they're acting as a direct extension of a foreign government. >> romance can be a feature. somebody dating someone, create a close relationship, and the u.s. government person thinks they're in love with this person, and vice versa and the other person is actually an agent of a foreign power. that's a classic example. >> you describe this as naive acquiescence? >>uali i'm not sure i know whatt means. >> you're going along with it without really acknowledging, understanding in your mind or being naive about the issue. >> sure, that can happen. >> you see that at times. >> okay. going on to things that you probably can't comment upon, which is of equal concern, we're
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all at this point very familiar with mr. sessions' testimony before the united states senate in which he specifically said he wasn't one who had this contact with the russians, then there was the amended i guess testimony in which he acknowledged i believe two such testimonies, the first was in july during the convention, and then later in september afterwards. all the while that the issues that we are talking about today, the hacking, the dumping of materials were taking place and certainly someone in the position of mr. senator sessions would have been aware of this, perhaps would have remembered these conversations, or might have mentioned, asked the russian ambassador to knock it off, but apparently none of those things happened, or at least he didn't remember that they happened.
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unfortunately, what we're reading now is that there was a third meeting as early as april of last year in washington, d.c., a meeting which candidate trump was president and the russian ambassador was president. at some point in time, this goes well beyond an innocent, under the best of circumstances, oh i forgot sort of thing or that doesn't count, when you correct your testimony in front of the united states senate, you're still under oath, you are swearing to the american people that what you're saying is true. the third time is well beyond that, and is quite simply perjury. so as we look at this, as we go forward, gentlemen, i ask that you take that into consideration. this is far more than what we have talked about, just in the general sense, did the russians hack or not, and the scope of
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this, to a concerted effort and plan to lie to the american public about what took place and what the motivations were beyond this process. again, i thank you for your service and i yield back to the ranking member. >> i yield to the gentleman from california. >> thank you director comey and admiral rogers. director comey you served time in a courtroom as a prosecutor and i am wondering if you remember the instruction read to juries every day that if you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something significant in this case you should consider not believing anything that witness says. >> yep, that's familiar to me. >> and your testimony at the beginning of this hearing was that president trump's claims that former president obama had wiretapped him is false. >> i said we have no information that supports them. >> thank you. with respect to donald trump, do you remember the other instruction related to
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truthfulness of a witness or a defendant, if a defendant makes a false or misleading statement relating to the charged crime, knowing the statement was false or intending to mislead, that conduct may also show he or she were aware of their guilt. >> yep, familiar to me. from my distant past. >> i want to talk about the kremlin playbook, and there are a number of ways that a foreign adversary could seek to influence a person. do you agree with that? >> yes. >> financial? >> yes, that can be one. >> romance, you said is another? >> yes. >> compromise? >> correct. >> setting up a compromise? >> sure, to execute on a compromise, yes. >> how about inadvertently capturing a compromise? meaning they have vast surveillance and you stumble into that surveillance and are caught in the compromise. >> and then they take that information try and use it to coerce you, that's part of the playbook. >> i yield back, chair, and
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continue once time is back with us. >> the gentleman's time expired. we will aget back to mr. turner. >> thank you. gentlemen, way tonight go back to the issue of admiral rogers indicated that the goal of the russians is to put a cloud on our system to undermine our system. i would think with your announcement of an investigation that the russians would be very happy with that as an outcome because the cloud of their actions and activities continues and will continue to undermine until you're finished with whatever your investigation is currently in the scope of. i want to go back to the issue of how does one open an investigation, because again i'm a little confused by some of the things that we hear as to the basis of an investigation. mr. comey, if an individual attends a meeting with the foreign leader, is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation?
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>> without word that somebody met with somebody, no. >> okay, without more than if they had their picture taken with a foreign leader, is that enough? >> it would depend upon where they were, who took the picture -- >> assume they're in the foreign country and in that foreign leader's government offices or facilities, if they're having a picture taken with them, is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation? >> it would depend. >> on what? i mean pause i'm saying if there's just a picture, because i can tell you certainly there's lots of people who have had lots of pictures. is it enough that a person has just had their picture taken with a foreign leader at the foreign leader's government official offices or place of residence? >> the reason i said it depends is it would depend. did the person sneak over to the foreign country and meet them clandestinely? was the picture revealed something else about the relationship? it's just hard to answer. >> let's say it's not clandestine.
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let's say it's open, that the person has attended an event that has gone over to meet with the foreign person, foreign government official and is at their foreign government official facility or their official residence and has a picture taken, and has no intention of covertly being present with the foreign person, is that picture enough to open a counter intelligence investigation? >> tricky to answer hypotheticals but i think my reaction to that is that doesn't strike me as enough. i know your next question issing go be to deeper into hypos. >> no, i'm not getting deeper into hypo. what if you're paid to attend a conference in a foreign country and you're paid to attend that conference not directly by the foreign government but nonetheless payment does occur for you to attend a conference, and we know president bill clinton attended many such conferences and spoke and received payment.
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is receiving payment by attending to speak at a conference, again not covert, it's open, they're attending to speak at a conference, receive payment for the purposes of speaki speaking, is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation? >> i can't say as i sit here. it would depend upon a lot of different things. >> if you had no other information or evidence other than the fact that they attended, is that enough for you, for the fbi to open a counter intelligence investigation of a private u.s. citizen? >> i can't answer the hypothetical because it would depend upon a number of other things. >> i limited it so there would be no other things mr. comey. i said only, if the only information that you had was that they had attended an event they were paid a conference it was not covert, is that only sufficient information to open an investigation against a private u.s. citizen? >> and who paid them, did they disclose it, what did they discuss when they were there, who else was sitting with them, there's lots and lots of other circumstances that make that even that simple seeming
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hypodifficuhyp hypo difficult to answer. >> say they've traveled to a foreign country and they openly traveled, wasn't covert, is traveling there enough? >> just traveling around the world? no. >> okay. well i'm very concerned, mr. comey, about the issue of how an investigation is open and how we end up at this situation once again, mr. clapper, the director of national intelligence just said that when he left, there was no evidence of collusion yet as admiral rogers said we're sitting now where the russian's goal is being achieved of causing a cloud or undermining our electoral process, so i certainly hope that you take an expeditious look at what you have undertaken, because it affects the heart of our democracy. mr. comey, i have a question
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against, again concerning classified information. now, i know that if i attend a classified briefing and i receive classified information and i go and tell someone that classified information, if i leak it or i release it, then i've committed a crime. but what if someone goes to a classified briefing, walks out of that briefing, and openly lies about the content of that briefing. because it's unclear what happens then. it's important, because as you know, this committee and certainly both of you gentlemen have handled a lot of classified information and recently, more recently the purported classified information is put out in the press, "the washington post," the "new york times," reports information and you know and i know and we all know, we're having handled classified information that some of that information is not true. are the sources of that classified information, if they come out and lie about the content of classified
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information, have they committed a crime? >> it's a really interesting question. i don't think so. if all they've done is lied to a reporter, that's not against the law. if they've done it, i don't want to break anybody's hearts with that but that's not against the law, but it is not, and the reason i'm hesitating is i could imagine a circumstance where it's part of some broader conspiracy or something, but just that false statement to a reporter is not a crime. >> and i just want to underscore that for a second, because i agree with you. i think it's no crime, and so every reporter out there that has someone standing in front of them and saying i'm taking this great risk of sharing u.s. secrets besides them purporting to a trader, are committing no crime if they lied to them. all of the news articles that contain this information that we know is not the case, are being done so at damage to the united states, but without the risk of a crime.
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and my next aspect of your question to you mr. comey is this. what is the obligation of the intelligence community to correct such falsehoods? some of this information that we read in "the washington post" and "new york times" is extremely false, and extremely incendiary, and extremely condemning of individuals and certainly our whole system. what is your obligation, mr. comey, to be that source, to say i can't release classified information but i can tell you it's not that. >> it's a great question, mr. turner. because there's a whole lot out there that is false and i suppose some of it could be people lying to reporters. more often than not people who act like they know when they don't. they're not the people who actually know the secrets. they're one or two hops out and they're passing along things they think they know. there is, we not only have no obligation to correct that, we can't. if we start calling reporters and saying hey, this thing you said about this new aircraft
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we've developed, that's inaccurate, actually. it's got two engines. we just can't do that, because we'll give information to our adversaries that way, and it's very, very frustrating, but we can't start down that road. when it's unclassified information from a reporter misreports the contents of a bill that's being debated in congress or a policy, we can call them and say hey, you ought to read it more carefully. you missed this or missed that. we cannot do that with classified information. it's very, very frustrating because i've read a whole lot of stuff especially in the last two months that's just wrong but i can't say which is wrong and i can't say it to those reporters. >> mr. comey, if you could help us on this issue i would greatly appreciate it. what happens is that you come into a classified briefing with us, and you tell us perhaps what something that is absolutely false. it really shouldn't be classified, because you're telling us it's not true. but yet we can't go tell it's not true because you told us in a classified setting. is there a way we can at least have some exchange as to what's not true, so the american people
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don't listen to false stories in "the washington post" and the "new york times" that we all know are not true? that would be helpful, if you could think about how could you help us with that. >> i'd love to invent that machine but we can't, because where do you stop that, on that slope? >> false is false, mr. comey. >> i don't call the "new york times" to say you got that one wrong, bingo they got that one right so it's just an enormously complicated endeavor for us. we have to stay clear of it entirely. >> thank you, mr. comey. one last question. so we all read in the press that vice president pence publicly denied that general flynn discussed sanctions with russia, and i'm assuming that you saw those news reports. did the fbi take any action in response to the vice president's statements? >> i can't comment on that, mr. turner. >> mr. comey the "new york times" reported on february 14th, 2017 that general flynn was interviewed by fbi personnel. is that correct? >> i can't comment on that, mr. turner. >> mr. comey, i do not have any additional questions but i thank
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you both for your participation and again i thank the chairman for the bipartisan aspect of this investigation. >> the gentleman yields back. mr. winstrop is recognized. >> thank you, gentlemen, for being here. i appreciate your endurance in this effort today. one question, how long has russia's soviet union been interfering or attempting to interfere with our election process? >> in the report we previously talked about we have seen this kind of behavior to some degree attempting to influence outcomes for decades. not to this same level. >> going back to the soviet union. >> the basic trend has been there. >> i'm curious what triggers a counter intelligence investigation of a government official, and in some ways asking for myself. for example, last week i spoke at an event on foreign policy with atlantic council, unbeknownst to me, the iraqi
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ambassador of the united states was there, he comes up to me afterwards, introduces himself, and says he'd like to meet with me at some time, okay? so this isn't a theoretical. this is real and this is why i'm asking this. will i be in trouble or under investigation if i meet with him? >> this is the slope i tried to avoid going down with mr. turner, dr. winstrop. i don't think i should be answering hypothetical. >> it's not a hypothetical. i'm asking you in advance because i want to know if i can meet with him and be under investigation or not. and i don't think that's an unrealistic question. this is real. this is right now. >> i get that. the fbi does not give advisory opinions, and so if you're asking me about your particular case, i just can't do that. >> so you'll tell me afterwards? >> no, i'll never tell you. >> well you might, somebody might, somebody might tell the press. right? that's where i'm going next. what can i discuss? what am i allowed to discuss?
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what triggers the investigation is really what we're trying to get to, in general. maybe not with the iraqi ambassador but the russian ambassador, what are my obligations. do i need to advise someone that i'm meeting with them, do i have to discuss the agenda before i meet with them? just so we're clear, this is really what it's coming down to, a lot about what we're talking about. so i don't think it's unnecessary or ridiculous for me to ask that, and so in intelligence reporting, if the identity of a u.s. official is disseminated, to those on an as needed basis or those that need to know basis, does that generally lead to a counter intelligence investigation of that individual? so in general, if the u.s. official is in this report and it's disseminated, does that lead to an investigation of the individual? >> not in general, not as a rule, no.
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it would depend upon lots of other circumstances. >> okay. next i want to go to the article from february 14th, in the "new york times," which i believe you're all familiar and you may not be able to answer but the article cites four corner officials. do you know the identity of those four oweishes? >> i'm not going to comment on an article. >> well it's not necessarily on the article but -- okay. do you know for a fact that the four current and former american officials provided information for this story? >> i have to give you the same answer. >> okay. with or without an investigation going on has anyone told you that they know who leaked the information? or who leaked any information on russian involvement in the u.s. elections or russian involvement with the trump election team? >> i'm not going to comment on that. >> is it possible that the "new york times" misrepresented its sourcing for this february 14th article? possible? >> i can't comment on that.
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>> is it possible that the "new york times" was misled by individuals claiming to be current or former american officials? >> give you the same answer, dr. winvop. >> can i ask why you can't comment on that? >> yes, i think a number of reasons. i'm not confirming that the information in that article is accurate or inaccurate. i'm not going to get in the business of that we talked about earlier -- >> okay let me ask you this. >> there's other reasons. >> sure. >> that i'm also not going to confirm whether we're investigating things, and so if i start talking about what i know about a particular article, i run the risk of stepping on both of those land mines. >> one more question before the time is up, and we'll come back to me but i am curious, is it possible, nothing to do with this article, is it possible that a so-called source to a media outlet may actually be a
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russian advocate? nothing to do with this story per se, just is it possible that a russian surrogate could actually be the source that a newspaper is relying on? >> in general, sure, somebody could always be pretending to be something they're not. >> thank you and i yield back at this time. >> mr. schiff is recognized for 15 minutes. >> thank you, just a couple follow-up questions and i'll pass it to mr. quigley for entering something into the record. >> mr. chairman, can i ask you, estimated time? i'm not made of steel so i might need to take a quick break. >> would you like to do that now? i don't know how much longer you plan to go. >> just a quick rest stop. >> we'll break for ten minutes. >> all right, well you heard
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they're going to take a quick break, and we'll take advantage of that break with nicole wallace and ari melber and talk about impressions. you've been saying off camera both of you that these are really two separate hearings going on. >> right, republicans are prosecuting the long-held tradition of leaks, and the democrats really improved their case in the opening minutes of this morning's hearing that there was absolutely no evidence of a wiretap in trump tower, something that close friends and allies of donald trump say they too know to be true and that the fbi is indeed investigating collusion between donald trump's circle and the russian government. >> that was a firm headline today that that goes back before well before election day. >> that's right, brian. there are rumors, there are leaks and then there are government confirmations. what is historic in this hearing today was the fbi director saying for the first time ever that there is an inquiry by the
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fbi into any interference in the 2016 election by the russian government. he used the word "government" and secondarily that that inquiry does include the look at potential links between the donald trump campaign organization and russian officials. as always, we can say and he was careful to emphasize an inquiry does not tell you whether those things have happened, whether crimes occurred, but that means they have met that criminal standard, and it means a second thing, that is also unusual but that we know about because this has been an unusual case and that is that with the recusal of attorney general jeff sessions from any campaign inquiry, and the doj guidelines that require doj approval for announcing any ongoing investigation which is unusual, fbi director comey also explicit by said here to the congress under oath that he got that required approval from the doj, translation, the acting deputy attorney general who was put in place oversees this
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precisely because of questions about jeff sessions has approved that, when jeff sessions recused himself, he said hey, i'm not confirming or denying the existence of an inquiry. that's a lot of movement on the legal time line for a relatively period of time but it tells us comey is getting what he wants from the doj, the ability to confirm this and try to clear up those questions. >> we also heard from director comey, my words, not his, that vladimir putin was out to harm democracy and out to harm hillary clinton and there was much discussion on whether or not putin was looking to help donald trump. nicole wallace, the white house briefing is coming up this afternoon. if you're sean spicer, what do you try to do when you go out there? >> well, so i'm told by senior white house folks while this hearing was going on there will be no backing away from the wiretap claim. there may simply be a broadening
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of what the definition of a wiretap is. back to microwaves and television sets with eyeballs i guess. i'm also told that they may start to draw some lines around what that campaign inner circle included, and may separate out some people as hangers-on, that if the fbi continues to look into contacts between the russian government and the trump circle that the white house may start to cleave off some folks as hangers on, people who were never paid by the campaign or never had official positions on the campaign or had been fired from the campaign, they may get to a point where they have to acknowledge that they're looking into people like that, but nobody who they consider or who president trump and then candidate trump then considered a true confidant. >> i was going to say hangers-on are one thing, that's a pejorative. unpaid is quite another. >> sure is. >> unpaid can be close to the candidate. >> it sure is, especially in a campaign that was as unconventional as donald trump's
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campaign was. i'm not sure we know, i don't think paul manafort was ever paid, auto uhm' not sure, we know mike flynn was paid by foreign governments that he was providing services for, unregistered, but i'm not sure jared kushner was probably never paid. i'm not sure how many people were paid staff of the trump campaign so it is probably a large universe of people who were unpaid but i think their point is that if you know we learned in this hearing today there is an ongoing investigation into contacts between the russian government and the trump orbit. i think you're going to see them try to draw some distinctions about what the definition of an orbit is, and i think they may start to describe some folks as being outside that inner circle who were perhaps unpaid, that may be a distinction you try to see them draw. >> malcolm nance is a 30-plus year veteran of the intelligence business, and malcolm, in your line of work, what have you heard from this hearing that
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stood out? >> well first i have very deep ties to the national security agency in addition to other intelligence agencies. the first thing is that director comey came right out and verified there is an investigation of some type going on in relation to the russian hacking of the united states and quite possibly the trump campaign. what i thought was very interesting was that the last point the republicans were trying to box him in to the standard of what that investigation was, and he confirmed that there is a very, very high standard of information which is required for the fbi to carry out any type of counter intelligence investigation, which just goes to show that that high standard has been met, and that means that the trump administration is going to have to start drawing some very quickly going to have to start drawing boxes around those individuals because the fbi is obviously on the case, the high standard has been met abnot going to be much wiggle
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room should it continue as counter intelligence investigation. counter intelligence means spy hunting. it doesn't just mean having inadvertent contact with the russians. they believe they didn't want to use the word collusion toward, we like to use co. tion or collaboration between one person and another. that was the first thing. secondly dismissed out of hand there was no official wiretapping by the united states government of donald trump so that brings that to a certain extent boxes donald trump into a lie. there's only one way out of that for donald trump at this point to say there was a white house plumber's team that secretly went in and carried out this operation for president obama and i don't think that will fly either. >> nicole wallace. >> i was shaking my head i have a pretty good sense they have no plans of walking away from this claim that this is still the
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president's belief the white house staff it's a word i can't say on family friendly tv but the initials are b. and b., another person who spent time with the president this weekend in florida said it was signs of paranoia and delusion around this idea he's so right. he sought to have people outside the government collaborate this wire tapping claim which either suggests this observation of paranoia and delusion is in fact operational or extreme ignorance of all the assets at his disposal and all the investigative powers of the federal government. so i don't think we'll see him do what he should do after what happened this morning with i is to say i got over my skis, i was wrong and i apologize, which would allow the white house to turn the page on this wire tapping story and focus on an
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area that they're obviously very eager to go, which is the leaking of classified information which isn't a great use of their time but obviously an issue that they have all the republicans on the committee singing off of the same script. there's no one left to defend him on this wiretap claim after what happened this morning except the people paid to speak for him and that is not a good state of play for any white house. >> peter alexander is standing by to hear from the person paid to speak for donald trump, sean spicer. and peter, let me know if -- there is sean spicer. let's listen in to the top of the briefing. >> it's very quiet. good afternoon, as you all know the president will be speaking this afternoon in louisville and we've got an event coming up so i'll try to keep this relatively short to focus on, let the president focus on his message for the day. in regard to the news of the day, this morning after receiving his daily intelligence briefing the president met with bill gates, the co-chair and
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trustee of the bill and melinda gates foundation. the president and mr. gates talked about their shared commitment to finding and stopping disease outbreaks around the world. the president particularly commented, commended mr. gates for the gates foundation work in global health and health security, generous and innovative private philanthropic groups like the gates foundation are critical to our mission of finding the cures for tomorrow. also this morning, the confirmation hearings in the judiciary came, began in judiciary committee began for the president's nominee for the supreme court, judge neil gorsuch as the judge will continue to show throughout his process, he's eminently qualified for this position, with impeccable academic credentials, brilliant legal mind and a proven commitment to the constitution. on tuesday and wednesday, judge gorsuch will be questioned by each member of the panel, and on thursday we anticipate things to conclude with the panel of witnesses. the president was glad to see so many people convey their support in the last few days for judge
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gorsuch, just this past weekend senator grassley, former new york mayor bloomberg, editorial boards from across the country and several former colleagues and classmates penned op-eds or editorials or provided comments stating his impeccable qualifications for the bench. they add to a long list of jurorists, politicians and elected officials from both sides of the aisle already given the judge their support. the president looks forward to watching judge gorsuch continue to show the senate what an extraordinary addition he will be in the bench and confident he'll be confirmed. later in the morning the president had a meter with speaker radio ian, secretary of health and human services dr. tom price and dr. zeke emmanuel, intimately involved in crafting the health care policy since his work on obamacare. obviously he and the president have some differing views on the best way to make health care affordable and accessible but the president also strongly believes that the health and well-being of the american
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people shouldn't always be a partisan issue and he will continue to reach across party lines and listen to voices on this issue. last week he heard from individuals and family who suffered from the disastrous results of obamacare, he's previously spoke on it health care policy groups, republican congressional leadership groups and he will have discussions on women in health care while continuing an open dialogue with members and congress. he will be hosting even more meeting and listening sessionless in the coming weeks as he works with congress to bring common forms to our health care system. the president is willing to hear from all stake holders in the health care field and he will continue to listen as the process on the american health care act moves along and we pursue the additional actions necessa necessary. the president had lunch with the vice president this afternoon and meeting with secretary of state tillerson. the secretary just returned from an important trip to asia. he made it clear that america's
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committed to our allies, japan and the republic of korea and that we expect china to increase its role in persuading north korea to move away from nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development and toward steps to create a better future for the north korean people. this trip set the stage for future leader level engagement between the u.s. and china, during this meeting he will debrief the president on his trip. later this afternoon, the president will welcome the prime minister al abadi of iraq, the iraqi people have been a brave and steadfast partner in our shared fight against isis, al qaeda and radical islamism. the president will speak with the prime minister about how that partnership will help defeat isis and move into a in you era in which iraq say force of stability and peace and a prosperous middle east. after his bilateral meeting with prime minister the president will depart the white house for louisville, kentucky, for a make america great again rally before returning to the white house later this evening. few notes at the end before i take some questions.
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yesterday treasury secretary mnuchin returned from a successful trip to europe where he stopped in the uk for a bilateral with the chancellor of the ex-czecher and 18 of his counterparts of the g-20 ministerial. it gave him an opportunity to outline the administration's policy, macro economy, international tax and illicit finance. during the meeting they prepared a platform on steps to promote growth and financial stability. tomorrow the president will sign s-442, theary aeronautical authorization act in the morning and make remarks at national republican commission committee march dinner in the evening. on wednesday the president will meet with congressional black caucus. on thursday the president will hold an event with truck drivers and representatives addition. >> forgive us for speculating
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but a former white house official guesses the timing is anything but accidental. the committee takes a break, the press secretary comes out and tells the positive news and now the questioning is resumed. questioning will begin at the white house. let's go back to congressman schiff of california and we'll resume the hearing on the hill. >> or become an agent of a foreign power, is that an accurate understanding? >> that's a fair statement. as you said, mr. schiff, we also have to choose, which we get a lot of referrals, which ones align with the threats that the fbi is trying to prioritize because we have limited resources. >> so even when those criteria met, that enough may not -- that in and of itself may not be enough because you have so many other cases you need to investigate and you have to prioritize. >> correct. >> i also want to ask you, you mentioned that it wouldn't be appropriate for you to be
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telling stories they're writing are accurate or inaccurate when they may vofl an investigation. that's not an appropriate thing for you to do. >> correct. especially if the story involves classified information. >> because you would be disclosing classified information potentially in what you're confirming or by rebutting a story that was inaccura inaccurate, you may be suggesting other stories that contain classified information are then accurate? >> correct. >> now it's inappropriate for you to be batting down inaccurate stories. would you also agree if it's inappropriate for you to be batting down inaccurate stories, would you also agree it's inappropriate for the white house to be asking the fbi to be rebutting stories they don't like? >> that's what i don't want to answer, mr. schiff, because i don't want to talk about communications within the executive branch. i can speak for the fbi. that's not something the fbi can or should do. >> and if you were appearing
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before the senate for confirmation and they asked you, as director of the fbi, if you were asked by the white house to refute or acknowledge press stories they liked or didn't like, what would you tell the senate in your confirmation hearing? would that be appropriate for your office? >> i would figure out what was the right thing for the fbi to do and then do that thing. >> and that right thing would be not to be in the business of confirming or denying stories about classified information? >> correct. that's what -- that's what the right thing is for the fbi. >> let me recognize for the purposes of entering something in the record. >> thank you, mr. ranking member. hugo black said only a free and unrestrained press. i respectfully ask to enter a march 8th article entitled jeff sessions likely met russian ambassador a third time. >> now yield. >> thank you to our ranking member. thank you again to our director
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and admiral rogers. director, would you agree that the fbi when it's considering a counterintelligence investigation views contacts between u.s. persons and, say, ruche differently than it would view contacts between u.s. persons and the uk or france or germans? >> yes, very much so. >> and that's because they're a foreign adversary? >> correct. >> so, to land on russia's radar as someone they want to recruit, being a prominent business person would be someone that's attractive to them? >> could be. depends on what industry you're in. >> could a politician be someone attractive to them? >> sure. >> how about somebody who does business with russians, would that be attractive to them? >> could be. would depend upon other things as well, though. >> and we were starting to discuss this. efforts to recruit include investing in a u.s. person, is that correct? >> efforts by russia to
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invest -- >> yes. >> in their trade craft? that can be one way in which they cultivate a relationship, sure. >> if you are a u.s. person with a business, could it include investing in your business or being a partner in some of your endeavorses? >> lots of different ways someone could try to establish a relationship. >> going back to compromise, could we assume that any prominent u.s. person traveling to russia would probably be covered by russian surveillance? >> depends on how you define prominent, they have an extensive surveillance operation of visitors, so no matter who you are, you ought to assume it. but whether that's true in reality, it's hard for me to answer. you want to answer? >> i agree. >> russia is attempting to recruit and persuade individuals as we discussed before, just as foreign adversaries are, because they to want get something out of them? >> correct. >> in many cases if that person is ever in a position of power
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that they could be in a position to influence policy in the united states? >> to influence policy or supply them with information that's useful to them and maybe other purposes. >> now, with respect to your counterintelligence investigations would it be important four if a u.s. person had financial entanglements with a foreign adversary to see that person's tax returns? >> that's a hypothetical i really want to avoid answering but the answer would, it would depend. it would depend upon a whole lot of circumstances. >> that would be one of the pieces of evidence you would consider looking at? >> maybe. maybe. you might be able to get the picture you need from other financial records that are more readily available. >> you're aware that president trump has refused breaking with the tradition of the past 40 years to show the american people his tax returns? >> not something i want to
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comment on. i'm aware of it from the media. >> now, russia in their efforts to recruit individuals and develop individuals, preying on or following someone's financial distress is an avenue they might pursue, is that right? >> potentially if it offers an avenue for leverage on someone. >> right. director, would you consider six bankruptcies that an individual may have as being a point of leverage? >> i can't say. don't know. >> director, you're aware that president trump has had six prior bankruptcies? that's not something i'm going to comment on. >> director, when your agents are conducting a counterintelligence with regard to a foreign adversary in their efforts to recruit or cooperate with a u.s. person, would you look at the u.s. person's travel to that country?
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>> as part of an illicit relationship? >> yes. >> sure. >> are you aware president trump has troovld russia three times? >> that's not something i'm going to comment on. >> his son, donald jr., has traveled to russia at least six times? >> same answer. >> donald trump has said a number of times that he's had nothing to do with russia. i want to ask you, director, if you're familiar with duitch bank and its $300 million loan to donald trump and his organization. >> it's not something i'm going to comment on. >> director, are you aware that deutsche bank has been investigated and fined by new york state by failing to stop the corrupt transfer of over $10 billion out of russia? >> i think generally from press accounts. >> an individual's association with a bank that has had dealings with russian money laundering, that would be something that would be a red flag for a counterintelligence
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investigation, i would assume? >> that's a hypo i don't want to answer. >> director, would a u.s. business person who is associated with the foreign adversary having tenants in their office building that do business with that foreign adversary, would that be a red flag that a counterintelligence agent would look at? >> i can't answer that. >> are you aware that in trump tower were two tenants who ran a high-stakes illegal gambling ring that was run out of trump tower? >> same answer. >> and are you aware that the prosecutor in that case was u.s. attorney preet bharara? >> same answer. >> are you aware, director, that that u.s. attorney was recently fired? >> yes. >> by the president of the united states? >> i know from press accounts that he was asked to leave. >> director, are you aware of felix sadr, a former soviet
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official and adviser to the trump organization? >> i'm not going to comment on that. >> director, outside of mr mr. sadr's relationship with the trump organization, are you aware the u.s. government knew of him because of a $40 million stock fraud case prosecuted bit u.s. government? >> same answer. >>. >> director, what a u.s. person having multiple trademarks in addition to the other relationships that i just described be a red flag for a counterintelligence investigation, if those trademarks were in russia? >> multiple trademarks? >> yeah, registering trademarks in a foreign adversary's country. >> i don'ten what to make of that. >> were you aware donald trump had six trademarks in ruche? russia? >> i'm not going to comment on that. >> were you aware trump tried to market his trump vodka brand in russia? >> same answer. >> were you aware


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