tv MSNBC Live MSNBC June 7, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
confidential information relative to intelligence or other matters. i just don't feel it is appropriate for me to do that in this situation. secondly, when i was asked yesterday to respond to a piece that i was told was going to be written and printed in the "washington post" this morning, my response to that was, in my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the united states or anybody in his administration, i have never been pressed. i have felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way, with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation. >> all i'd say, director coats, is there was a chance here to lay to rest some of these press reports. if the president is asking you to intervene or downplay -- you may not have felt pressured but if he is even asking, to me,
that is a very relevant piece of information. again, at least in terms of the conversation with admiral rogers, i think we will get at least some -- another individual's version. but at somepoint, these fact haves to come out. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator coats -- excuse me -- director coats and admiral rogers for your testimony. with all due respect to my colleague from virginia, i think you have cleared up substantially your direct testimony that you have never been pressured by anyone, including the president of the united states, to do something illegal, immoral or anything else. thank you for that. let's go back to section 702, which is what this hearing was supposed to be all about. it's becoming obvious. i think most of us who worked in the intelligence community know we're in a different position than europe is.
europe is -- their risks are obviously very high, and they're suffering these attacks on a very regular basis and becoming more regular. so let's talk about our collection efforts versus the european collection efforts. particularly as it relates to section 702. obviously, we hear in the media frequently about spats between us and the europeans regarding intelligence matters, but we all know that there is a robust communication and cooperation between our european friends and ourselves. so i want to talk about it in -- i want to talk about 702 in that respect. why don't we start, director coats, with you, and then i'll throw it up for ib else thanybo that wants to comment on this. how important is 702, the continuation of section 702 and its related parts, to doing what
we have been doing as far as helping the europeans and the europeans helping us, in doing the things we're doing here in america to see that we don't have the kind of situations that have been recently happening in europe? director coat start with you. >> having just returned a few weeks ago from major capitals in europe and discussing this very issue with my counterparts throughout the intelligence communities of various countries, they voluntarily, before i could even ask the question, expressed extreme gratitude for the ability -- for the information we have been able to share with them relative to threats. numerous threats have been avoided on the basis of collection that we have received through 702 authorities. and our notification of them of these pending threats. they have been deterred or
intercepted. unfortunately, what has happened just recently, particularly in england, shows that regardless of how good we are, there are bad actors out there that have bypassed the more concentrated, large attack efforts, taken it either through inspiration or direction from isis or other terrorist groups, have chosen to take violent action against the citizens of those countries. the purpose of the trip was to ensure them that we would continue to work and share together their collection activities, capabilities, in many cases are good, but in some cases lack the ability that we have. so this ability to share information with them, that helps keep their people safe
also, is highly valued by them. but i don't think we should take for granted that just because europe has been the recent target of these attacks that the united states is safe from that. we know through intelligence that there's plotting going on, and we know that there's lone wolf issues and individuals that are taking instructions from isis through social media, or that for whatever reason are copycatting what is happening. so that threat exists here also. let me lastly say that the nations i've talked to, many of which have been extremely concerned about violating privacy rights, have initiated new procedures and legislation and mandates relative to getting intelligence agencies better collection because they think they need it to protect their citizens. >> thank you very much. just a few seconds that i've got
left, mr. rosenstein, could you tell me, please, we get a lot of pushback from the privacy people. we've now heard testimony that there's been no intentional violation over the ten years. could you tell the american people what's in store for someone who these guys catch intentionally misusing 702, since you're the highest ranking member of the department of justice here. >> yes, senator. i can assure you, senator, in the department of juice tstice, treat these violations seriously. if someone willfully violated 702, we'd investigate that case. if prosecutor were justified, we'd prosecute it. director mccabe shares with me that commitment. we recognize we have an obligation to the american people, to make sure these are
used responsibly, we comply with the laws and constitution and procedures and we are ready to use whatever resources needed to hold people accountable for violations. >> this is the department of justice's commitment to the american people? >> yes. >> senator feinstein? >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> all right. we've been listening to testimony by four important people in law phone rsment and intelligence in this country. dan coats, andrew mccabe, admiral rogers and rosenstein. >> two other people. >> two others? >> ali velshi and stephanie ruhle. we're going to go back to it as the questions continue. >> in the year 2016, there were 6,469 authorized targets out of 3 billion internet users. that's the ratio. the question of unmasking has
been raised. it's my understanding that 1,939 u.s. person identities were unmasked in 2016 based on collection that occurred under section 702. so my question is going to be the following, and i'll ask it all together and, hopefully, you'll answer it. i would like a description of the certification process and the use of an amicus. the program sunsets after five years, about raising that sunset versus no sunset because of the privacy concerns. it is my belief there should be a sunset. and the use of an amicus, which
is currently used as part of the certification process. and whether that should be continue and had formalized. admiral, it's programs under -- >> if i could, doj is going to be smarter on the amicus piece. please, will you take that piece? >> i'm not sure i am smarter on the amicus piece, senator. i can tell you this, with regard to the question of unmasking, this is actually primarily a question not for the department, the determination is made by the intelligence agencies, if there is a situation where a foreign person has been communicating about an american person and a decision is made. whether or not the identity of the person is needed for the intelligence to be used. that is an internal issue. unmasking is done internally, within the cloak of confidentiality within the intelligence community. that's a different issue from
leaks. in other words, if somebody's identity is disclosed internally because it is relevant for intelligence purposes, because that's the goal of this collection, is to understand -- >> mr. rosenstein, let me just tell you, i just listened to somebody who should have known better talking about unmasking in a polal sense. that it is done politically. that, of course, is not the case. so what i'm looking for is the definition of how this is done and under what circumstances. >> right. i think, senator, because that's really a decision made by the ic, intelligence community, not by the department, would be appropriate for them to respond to that. >> i can do that. so with respect to unmasking, the following criterias apply. first, for the national security agency, we define in writing who has the authority to unmask a u.s. person identity. that is 20 individuals in 12 different positions. i am one of the 20 in one of those 12 positions, the
director. secondly, we outline in writing what are the criteria that will be applied to a request to unmask. in a report and, again, part of the process under 702, to protect the identity of u.s. persons as part of our minimization procedures. when we think we need to reference a u.s. person in a report, we will not use a name. we will not use an identity. we say u.s. person one. u.s. person two. u.s. person three. th some of the recipients of the report will sometimes come back to us and say, i'm trying to understand what i am reading. could you help me understand who is person one or who is person two, et cetera? we applywo cry titer. you have to request it in writing. then you have to list your official duties. not that you're curious. it has to tangibly apply to your job. i said two but there is a third
criteria. that is the basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading. we apply those three crcriteria. we do it in writing. one of the 20 individuals agrees or disagrees. if we unmask, we go back to the entity who requested it, not everybody who received the report but the one entity who asked it. we provide them the u.s. identity and remind them, the classification of this report, and the sensitivity of the identity, remains in place. by revealing this u.s. person to you, we are doing it to help you understand the intelligence, not, not so that you can use that knowledge indisindiscrimin. it must remain protected. >> senator, if i can add to that, given the nature of this issue, and it is a legitimate question you've asked, i've talked with my colleagues at nsa
and cia, fbi and so forth, and suggesting that we might ask our civil liberties and privacy protection agencies to take a look at this. to see -- admiral rogers laid out the procedures. are these the right procedures? should we do something different? wouley have recommendatis that better protected people from muse of this? they've all agrd to do that. so i think it is a legitimate issue to follow up on. i've talked to the agency heads about doing so, and they're willing to do it. >> i also have an internal review i've directed. given all the attention, given the focus, let's step back, reassess and ask yourselves, is there anything that would suggest we need to do something different in the process? >> good. thank you. >> mr. chairman, i'd like to more thoroughly answer the first question. senator feinstein, my understanding is an amicus was used in 2015. that decision was made by the
court. it is a foreign intelligence surveillance court, which has the statutory authority, if the court believes it is appropriate in a case, to appoint an amicus. my understanding is it was done in 2015. thank you. >> well, would you feel it would be helpful to make it a part of the regular certification process? >> my understanding, senator, is that the stach constitutute per court to do it if it believes it is appropriate. i'd leave it to the judges to decide when it is appropriate to exercise that. >> thank you. >> senator rubio. >> thank you all for being here. i understand fully the need of the president of the united states to be able to have conversations with members of the intelligence community that are protected, particularly in a classified setting. i also understand that the ability of this community to function depends both on its credibility, the work it's doing is in the national security interest of the united states, and also the importance of its independence, that it is not an extension of politics, no matter which administration is at play. the absence of either one of
those two things impacts everything we do, including this debate we're having here today. and the challenge we have now is that while the folks here with us this morning are constrained in what they can say, there are people that apparently work with you that are not and are constantly speaking to the media about things and saying things. it puts the congress in a difficult position. the issue of oversight on both your independence and on your credibility falls on us. and i actually think what is being said to the media is untrue, then it is unfair to the president of the united states. if it is, then it is -- if it is true, it is something the american people deserve to know and we as an oversight committee need to know in order to conduct our job. and so my questions are geared to director coats and admiral rogers. you've testified that you have never felt pressured or threatened by the president or by anyone to influence any ongoing investigation by the fbi. are you prepared to say that you have never been asked by the
president or the white house to influence an ongoing investigation? >> senator, i hate to keep repeating this, but i'm going to do it. i am willing to come before the committee and tell you what i know and what i don't know. what i'm not willing to do is to share what i think is confidential information that ought to be protected in an open hearing. i'm not prepared to answer your question today. >> director coats, i'll just say, with the incredible respect i have for you, i am not asking for classified information. i'm asking whether or not you have ever been asked by anyone to influence an ongoing investigation. >> i understand. but i'm just not going to go down that road in a public forum. i also was asked the question if the special prosecutor called upon me to meet with h to ask his questions, i said i would be willing to d that. >> i likewise stand by my
previous comment. >> then in the interest of time, i'll ask both of you, has anyone ever asked you, now or in the past, this administration or any administration, to issue a statement that you knew to be false? >> for me, i stand by my previous statement. i've never been directed to do anything in the course of my three plus years as director of the -- >> not directed, asked. >> th-- that i felt to be inappropriate nor have i felt pressured to do so. >> have you been asked to say something that isn't true? >> i stand by my previous statement. >> director coats? >> i do likewise. >> i'll ask this of everyone on the panel. is anyone aware of any effort by anyone in the white house or elsewhere to seek advice on how to influence any investigation? >> my answer is absolutely no, senator. >> no one has anything to add to that? >> i don't understand the question. >> the question is, are you aware of any efforts by anyone in the white house or the
executive branch looking for advice from other members of the intelligence community about how to potentially influence an investigation? >> talk about me? no. >> no. >> okay. who wants to answer? i'm sorry. >> i'm not sure i understand the question, but if you're asking whether i'm aware of requests to other people in the intelligence community, i am not. >> i'm seeking advice on how you could potentially influence someone. no one has reported that to you? >> no, sir. >> has anyone ever come forward and said, i just got a call from someone at the white house asking me, what is the best way to influence someone on an investigation? >> i've never received anything. >> i have no direct knowledge of such a call. >> it was an allegation made in a press report, and it is why i asked. on a separate topic -- i'm sorry. who does? >> confusion, senator. we want to be clear on the question.
the answer is no, as i understand it. i'm not sure i'm familiar with the particular media report you're referring to. >> i want to ask this because it is important. did the nsa routinely and extensively and repeatedly file the rules that were put in place in 2011 to minimize the risk of collection of upstream information? >> have we had compliance incidents? yes. have we reported every one to the court? yes. have we reported to the congressional oversight in congress? yes. have we reported it to the department of justice and the director of national intelligence? yes. >> did -- under the obama administration, was there a significant uptick in incidents of unmasking from 2012 to 2016? >> i don't know that. i have to take that -- >> who would know that? >> we have the data, but i don't know that off the top of my head. i couldn't tell you unmasking on a year by year basis for the last five years. i apologize. i don't know off the top of my
head. >> thank you. >> thank you very much, chairman. i've noted the conversations you've had with my colleagues with respect to the content of conversations that you may have had with the president. my question is a little different. did any of you four write memos, take notes or otherwise record yours or anyone else's interactions with the president related to the russia investigati investigation? >> i don't take any notes. >> let's just get the four of you on the record. >> senator, i rarely take notes. i've taken a few today. but i am not going to answer questions concerning the russia investigation. i think it is important for you to understand, when i -- >> on whether you wrote a memo. >> i'm not going to answer questions about a memo. >> time is short. whether you wrote a memo, notes, anything. >> i also am not going to comment on conversations i may
have had or notes taken or not taken relative to the russia investigation. >> and the likewise, i'll take the same position. >> director coats, on march 23rd, you testified to the armed services committee that you were not aware of the president or white house personnel contacting anyone in the intelligence community with a request to drop the investigation into general flynn. yesterday, the "washington post" reported that you had been asked by the president to inter vereen wi -- intervene with director comey to back off the fbi's focus on general flynn. which one of those is accurate? >> senator, i will say it once again, i'm not going to get into any discussion on that in an open hearing. >> both of them can't be accurate, mr. director. as recently as april, you promised americans you would provide what you called a relevant metric for the number of law-abiding americans who are
swept up in the fisa 702 searches. this morning, you went back on that promise. you said that even putting together a sampling, a statistical estimate, would jeopardize national security. i think that is a very, very damaging position to stake out. we're going to battle it out in the course of this. there are a lot of americans who share our view, that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. we can have both. you rejected that this morning. you went back on a pledge. i think it is damaging to the public. now, let me -- >> senator, could i answer the question? >> mr. director, my time is short. i want to ask you about one other 702. >> i would like to answer your question. >> briefly. >> what i pledged to you in my confirmation hearing is that i would make every effort to try
to find out why we were n able to come to a specific number of collection on u.s. persons. i told you i would consult with admiral rogers. i told you i would go to the national security agency to try to determine whether or not i was able to do that. i went out there. i talked to them. they went through the technical details. there were extensive efforts on the part of -- i learned on the parts of nsa to try to come to get you an appropriate answer. we were not able to do that. >> mr. director, respectfully, that's not what you said. you said, and i quote, we are working to produce a relevant metric. let me go to my other -- >> but we were not able to do that, to achieve it. working to do it is different than doing it. >> you told the american people that even a statistical sample would be jeopardizing america's national security.
that is inaccurate. i think detrimental to the cause of securing we have both security and liberty. here's my other question, we are trying to sort out -- >> can the witness respond? >> who are the targets -- >> apparently not. >> who are the targets of a 702 investigation? director comey gave three different answers in a hearing a month ago. i think it would be very helpful if you would tell us who, in fact, is a target of these investigations. i want to go after serious foreign threats, but we don't know, as of now, director comey having given three different answers to who the tarts are. >> i can't speak to director clapper. targets, as i understand, are
non-u.s. persons, foreign individuals are the targets. 702 is directed and prohibited from directing targets on u.s. persons. >> my time is up. i will tell you, director comey gave three answers. he finally said, i could be wrong, but i don't think so. i think it's confined to counterterrorism, espionage and, finally, he said, he didn't think a diplomat could be targeted. we need you all, in addition to protecting the liberties of the american people, to tell us who the targets are. thank you. >> well, i would like to respond to that by saying, some of the targets are classified, highly classified. >> i understand that. >> some of those targets, by revealing the names of the targets, release the methods that we use and then is turned against us. could cost the lives or put some of our agents in significant --
>> director comey listed a number of targets, which is why there's confusion. he said that on the record. we need you to tell us on the record, as well, consistent with protecting sources and methods. >> senator collins? >> thank you, mr. chairman. director coats, first, let me thank you for your explanation of section 702, in the fact that it cannot be used to target any person located in the united states, whether or not that person is an american. i think there's a lot of confusion about section 702, and i appreciate your clear explanation this morning. >> thank you. >> i have a question for each of you that i would like to ask, and i want to start with admiral rogers. admiral rogers, did anyone at the white house direct you on how to respond today or to --
were there discussions of executive privilege? >> have i asked the white house, is it their intent to evoke executive privilege? yes. the answer i gave you today reflects my answer. no one else's. >> dirtor coats? >> my answer is the exact same. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein? >> i have not had any communications with the white house about invoking executive privilege today. >> director mccabe? >> i have not had any conversations with the white house about executive privilege today either. >> admiral rogers, in january, the fbi, the cia and nsa jointly issued intelligence committee assessment on russian involvement in the presidential elections. you testified today that the ic relied, in part, on 702 authorities to support its conclusion that the russians
were involved in trying to influence the 2016 elections. can you provide us with an update on nsa's further work in this area? >> in terms of the russian efforts, largely? >> yes. >> yes, ma'am. we continue to focus analytic and collection effort, trying to generate insights as to what the russians and others are doing, particularly with respect to efforts against u.s. infrastructure, u.s. processes like elections. we continue to generate insights on a regular basis. if my memory is right, i testified before that we did an open threat assessment. in the hearing, which i think was the 11th of may, i reiterated, we continue to see the similar activity that we identified and highlighted in the january report. those trends continue. much of that activity continues. >> it's my understanding that president obama requested the report that was issued in january. is that correct? >> yes, ma'am.
asked for a conlidad, single input from the ics to the question, did the russians or did they not attempt to influence the u.s. election process. >> so could you explain the difference between the requests from president obama for that unclassified assessment and the allegations that president trump requested that you publicly report on whether or not there was any intelligence concerning collusion between the russians and the members of the trump campaign, president trump's campaign? >> i apologize. i guess i'm confused by the question. again, i'm not going to comment on interactions with the president. i just don't feel that that is appropriate. as i previously testified, i stand by that report. >> let me ask a broader question that i truly am trying to get a handle on. that is, how does the
intelligence community reach a decision on whether or not to comply with the request that comes from the president of the united states? obviously, you report to the president of the united states. i'm interested in what process you go through to decide whether or not to undertake a task that's been assigned by the president, by any president. >> off the top of my head, i'd say we comply unless we have reason to believe we are being directed to do something illegal, immoral, unethical. in which case, we will not execute that. >> thank you. >> senator heinrich? >> director mccabe, did director comey ever share details of his conversations with the president with you? in particular, did director comey say that the president had asked for his loyalty?
>> sir, i'm not going to comment on conversations the director may have had with the president. i know he's here to testify in front of you tomorrow. you'll have an opportunity to ask him those -- >> did you have that conversation with director comey? >> i've responded that i'm not going to comment on those conversations. >> why not? >> because for two reasons. first, the -- as i mentioned, i'm not in a position to talk about conversations that director comey may or may not have had with the president. >> i'm not asking you that. i'm asking about conversations that you had with director comey. >> and i think that those matters also begin to fall within the scope of issues being investigated by the commercial counsel. wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on those today. >> so you're not invoking executive privilege and, obviously, it's not classified. this is the oversight committee. why would it not be appropriate for you to share that conversation with us? >> i think i'll let director comey speak for himself tomorrow in front of this committee.
>> we certainly look forward to that. i think your unwillingness to share that conversation is an issue. director coats, you've said, as well, that it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the president asked for your assistance in blunting the russia investigation. i don't care how you feel. i'm not asking whether you felt pressured. i'm simply asking, did that conversation occur? >> once again, senator, i will say that i do believe it is inappropriate for me to discuss that in an open session. >> you realize -- and, obvisly,s is not releasing any classified information, but you realize how simple it would be to say, no, that never happened? why is it inappropriate, director coats? >> i think conversations between the president and myself are, for the most part -- >> you seem to apply that
standard selectively. >> no, i'm not applying it selectively. i'm just saying i don't think it's appropriate -- >> you can clear an awful lot up by saying it never happened. >> i don't share -- i do not share with the general public conversations that i have with the president or many of my colleagues within the administration that i believe are -- should not be shared. >> i think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. >> it's not a matter of unwillingness, senator. it is a matter -- >> it is a matter of unwillingness. >> it is a matter of how i share it and to whom i share it to. when there are ongoing investigations, i think it is inappropriate to -- >> you don't think the american people deserve to know the answer? >> i think the investigations will determine that. your part of the investigation -- >> mr. rosenstein, did you know when you wrote the memo used as the primary justification for firing director comey, that the administration would be using it
as a primary justification? >> senator, as i know you're aware, i have -- there are a number of documents associated with me that are in the public record. the memorandum i wrote concerning director comey is in the public record. the order appointing the special counsel is in the public record. the press release i shieissued accompanying that recorder is in the public rerd anthe wrten version of the statement i delivered to 100 united states -- >> we you aware of the justification for the -- >> pardon me. 100 united states senators and 435 congressmen is in the public record. i answered many questions in the closed briefings of the 100 senators. >> you're not answering this question. >> and as i explained in those briefings, senator, i support mr. mccabe on this. we have a special counsel who is investigating, now responsible for the russia investigation -- >> you filibuster better than most of my colleagues. i'll move on to another question. and say that given that the
president state thad thed that director's firing was in response to investigations into russia, which he made very clear in lester holt's interviews, you talked with both the president and the attorney general about this firing. in light of mr. sessions's recus recusal, what role did the attorney general play in the firing and was it appropriate for him to write the letter he wrote in this case? >> i'm not trying to filibuster. i took 30 seconds. but i am not going to comment on that matter. i'm going to leave it to special counsel mueller to determine whether that's in the scope of his investigation. i believe that's appropriate for mr. mccabe and me to do that. and recognize -- >> you can't comment on recusal and what is inside and outside the scope of the recusal? >> mr. chairman, we have to let the witness answer the question. >> second the motion. >> i'm sorry. your specific question is what is in the recusal. my understanding is that the recusal you're referring to is also in the public record. i believe it speaks for itself.
>> thank you, mr. chair. >> senator? >> director mccabe, on may 11th when you were before this committee, you said that there has been no effort to impede the russian instigation. is that still your position? >> it is. let me clarify, senator. i think you're referring to the exchange i had with senator rubio. my understanding, at least my intention in providing that answer, was whether or not the firing of director c eo eor comd a negative impact on our investigation. my response was then and is now that the fbi investigated and continues to investigate, and now, of course, under the rubric of the special counsel, the russia investigation in an appropriate and unimpeded way. before director comey was fired and since he's been gone. >> i think, as i recall that conversation, it was a discussion about whether there
were plenty of resources, whether the funding was adequate, and what you were reported to have said -- i haven't looked at the exact transcript -- but i have looked at the news article -- was that you were aware of no effort to impede the russia investigation. >> we did talk about resource issues and whether or not we had asked for additional resources to pursue the investigation. i believe my response at the time was we had not asked for additional resources and that we had adequate resources to pursue the investigation. that was true then. it's still true today. >> and you would characterize your quote as no effort to impede the russian investigation as still accurate? >> that's correct. >> on the 702 issue, when the fbi wants to follow up on or pursue a u.s. person in or outside the united states, what court do you go to to get that to happen?
do you go to the fisa court, as well? >> if we are seeking collection under 702? >> well, if you're --owo you relate to 702? do you eve seek collection under 702? >> sure. yes, we do. let me step back a minute. of course, when the fbi seeks electronic surveillance collection on a u.s. person, we go to the fisa court and get a title i fisa order to do so. if we have an open, full investigation on a foreign person in a foreign place, and the collection is for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence, we can nominate that person or that, as we refer to it internally, the selector, whether an e-mail address or that sort of thing, we can nominate that for 702 coverage. we convey the nomination to the nsa and they pursue the coverage under their authority. >> you'd be the person who would pursue coverage for a u.s. person hereto here on outside of
the united states? >> that is correct, senator. >> you or the fbi. >> we are the u.s. person agency. that's right. >> admiral rogers, senator feinstein mentioned that last year, 1,139 u.s. persons were -- the phrase we're using now -- unmasked for some purpose. is that a number you agree with? >> it's in the 2016 odni-generated transparency report. from memory, the number is actually 1,934, from memory. i could be wrong. >> i'm sorry. i misheard. what would the number have been in 2015? >> to be honest, i don't know. i'd have to take that one for the record. i do know that we didn't start with the transparency commitment that we made, partnering with the dni, we didn't start it until the latter end of 2015. sohe 15 data published is matter of public record is
subset of the calendar year. 2016 was the first calendar year we published all the data for the entire year. >> director coats, do you have any information on that? >> i've seen the number. i don't recall what it was. i just asked my staff if they have the number. >> what i'm asking, and you can take this for the record, is was there an increase in 2016? did you have significantly more requests based on your subset in '15, happened in '16 than you'd had -- >> i don't know off the top of my head. we'll take it for the record. i'll say this, 702 collection has continued. the amount of total collection has increased generally every year. it is more and more impactful for us. it generates more and more value. >> when you have -- when 702 generates information that would indicate there was a u.s. person involved in criminal activity, what do you do with that information? >> if we -- we report it to either doj and the fbi, because we're not a criminal organization.
>> what do you do if you get that information at doj, mr. rosenstein? information from a 702 collection -- >> we become -- >> -- that indicates there is a crime involving a u.s. person. >> it is a fbi issue. >> mr. mccabe? >> we take the referral. if it is a u.s. person, we do an investigation aiming to fisa one information collection. >> that entire chain of -- >> of course. >> -- transmission of material. >> that's right. >> thank you, chairman. >> first on 702, like senator feinstein, i want to express my support for this important tool for intellince agencies. i do have a concern,hich we can discuss perhaps in closed session, about the process by which american names which are incidentally collected are then queried. i'm concerned by the distinction
between query and search, and where we run into the fourth amendment. it strikes me as bootstrapping to say we collected it legally under 702 and then we can go and look at these american persons. i believe that the fourth amendment imposes a warrant requirement in between that step, which is not present in the present process. we can discuss that at greater length. mr. mccabe, i'm puzzled by your refusal to answer the question about a conversation you may have had with director comey. what is the basis of your refusal to answer the question? >> as i stated, i think, first, i can't sit here and tell you whether or not those conversations that you're referring to -- >> why not? do you not remember them? >> i'm sorry, sir. i don't know whether conversations along the lines you've described fall within the purview of what the special counsel is investigating. >> is there a prohibition in the law i'm not familiar with, that you can't discuss an item that
you've been asked directly a question? >> it would not be appropriate for me, sir, to discuss issues that are potentially within the purview of the special counsel's investigation. >> that's the basis of your refusal to answer this question? >> yes, sir. and knowing, of course, director comey been behind this table tomorrow. >> the special counsel is entitled to ask you questions about this but not an oversight committee of the united states congress? >> it is my position i have to be particularly careful about not stepping into the special counsel's lane, as they have now been authorized by the department of justice. >> i don't understand why that lane takes precedence over the lane of the united states congress in an oversight committee. can you explain that distinction? why does the special counsel get deference and not this committee. >> i'd be happy -- >> is there a legal basis -- >> i'd be happy to discuss that fully with my general counsel and with the department. right now, that's the -- >> on the record, i would like a legal justification for your refusal to answer the question today. i think it is a straight forward
question. it is not involving discussions with the president. it is involving discussions with mr. comey. gentlemen, director coats and admiral rogers, i think you testified, admiral rogers, you did discuss today's testimony with someone in the white house. >> i said i asked what did the white house intend to evoke, executive privileges between interactions with myself and the united states. >> what is the answer? >> i didn't get a definitive answer. both myself and the dni are still talking. >> i'll ask both of you the same question. why are not not answering these questions? is there an invocation by the president of the united states of executive privilege? is there or not? >> not that i'm aware of. >> why are you not answering the questions? >> i feel it is inappropriate. >> what you feel isn't relevant, admiral. what you feel isn't the answer. >> i stand accountable. >> why are you not answering the questions? is it an invocation of executive privilege? if there is, let's know about
it. if there isn't, answer the questions. >> i stand by the comments i've made. i'm not interested in repeating myself, sir. i don't mean that in a contentious way. >> i do mean it in a contentious way. >> yes, sir. >> i don't understand why you're not answering our questions. when you were confirmed before the armed services commitcommit you took an oath. do you swear to give the committee the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. you answered question. >> i answered those conversations with classified. it is not appropriate in an open forum to discuss the classified conversations. >> what is classified about a conversation involving whether or not you should intervene in the fbi investigation? >> sir, i stand by my previous comments. >> mr. coats, what's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today? >> the basis is what i previously explained. i do not believe it is appropriate for me to -- >> what's the basis? i'm not satisfied with i do not believe it is appropriate or i
do not feel i should answer. i want to understand a legal basis. you swore that oath, to tell us the truth. the whole truth and nothing but the truth. today, you are refusing to do so. what is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee? >> i'm not sure i have a legal basis, but i'm more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your questions. >> we're going to be having a closed session in a few hours. do you commit you're going to answer these questions in a direct and unencumbered way? >> well, the closed session you'll have in a few hours involves the staff going over the technicalities on the number of issues and doesn't involve us, but i will -- >> when you are before this committee in a closed session, you will answer these questions directly and without hesitation? >> i plan to do that. but i do have -- i do have to work through the legal counsel at the white house, relative to whether or not they're going to
exercise executive -- >> admiral rogers, will you answer these questions in a closed session? >> i likewise respond. i hope that is what happens. i believe that's the appropriate thing. but i do have to acknowledge, because of the sensitive nature and the executive privilege aspect to this, i need to be talking to the general counsel and the white house. i hope we come to a position where we can have this dialogue. i welcome the dialogue, sir. >> i hope so, too. i'd add in conclusion, both of you testified you'd never been pressured under three years. i'd argue you have waived executive privilege by, in effect, testifying as to something that didn't happen. i believe you open e opened theo these questions. it is my belief you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> before i turn to senator langford, let me say that the vice chairman and i have had conversations with acting attorney general rosenstein when
special counsel was named. and as i had shared with the members of this committee prior to that, that as we carried out an investigation, there would come a point in time, either with the investigation that was currently ongoing at the fbi, or if there was a special counsel with the special counsel, where there would be avenues that this committee could not explore. it was my hope that already the vice chair and i would have had that conversation with the special counsel. we have not. we've made the request. we intend to have it. i think that both of us anticipated that we would reach this point at some point in the investigation. we are there. there are some things that will fall into the special counsel and/or an active investigation.
>> let me say though at this point, we have not had that conversation with mr. mueller. we've not been waved off on any subject. the way i'm hearing all of you gentlemen, is that mr. mueller has not waved you off from answering any of these questions. is that correct? >> i've had no conversations with mr. mueller. i've been out of the country for the last nine days. i haven't had an opportunity. >> if you've not had questions waved off with mr. mueller, i think, frankly, and i understand your commitment to the administration, but senator king, senator heinrich and my questions deserve answers. at some point, the american public deserves full answers. >> i'm going to ask mr. rosenstein to address that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm sensitive to your desire to keep our answers brief and my full answer would be lengthy. my brief answer, from myjustice
years, our default position is when there is a justice department investigation, we do not discuss it publicly. that's our default rule. nobody needs to -- >> is that not discussion it -- are asking about reports that no one has laid to reports here, directly in an ongoing investigation. we have, frankly, at least heard from director coats and rod gers, i don't understand. with regard to the department of justice. >> senate eoe eor langford. >> do you feel confident at this point that they are fully
cooperating for requests and setting up the coordination between the offices for documents and absolutely we have a row bbust desire to help withy questions. >> the nsa decided to stop doing about queries. it has been stopped, who first identified that as a problem? >> the national security agency did. >> okay, so how did you report that? reported that to who?
how did that conversation go. >> in 2016 i directed our office of compliance to do a fundamental basis review of compliances associated with 702. my memory was that i was briefed on something like october the 20th that led me to believe the technical solution we put in place is not working with the reliability that is necessary. so it went from the department of justice to the fisa court at the end of october, like the 26th of october, and we informed the court that we have a compliance issue here and we're concerned there is an underlying issue with a technical solution. we said we would need time to work through that. the court granted us that time. th say you can continue it under the 16 authorizations, but we will not reauthorization 17 until you show us you addressed it. we went there an internal process, interacted with the
department of justice, and by march we came to a solution that the court was comfortable, we executed that solution and they granted us authority for the 702 effort. >> so the court initially came to you and said we have an issue. >> i went to the court and said we have an issue. >> and the court said that we have an issue as well. >> correct. >> and it went through the process of review and now they're signed off on the other 16. >> correct. >> how does this harm your collection capabilities? >> i acknowledge that in doing this, we were going to lose some intelligence value. my concern is that i felt it was important, that we needed to be able to show that we're fully compliant with the law and the technical solution that we put in place i didn't think was generating the level of reliability. and as a result of that, i said that we need to make the change. i will say this in the fisa
court opinion, it also says the same thing opinion i also told them the time, if we can work that technical solution in a way that it generates greater reliability, i would potentially come back to the department of justice and the court to recommend that we reinstitute it. and the court acknowledged that in their certification. >> tell me what you mean by that. >> it was generating errors. they highlighted a number of cases in 2016 and i thought to myself that clearly it is not workinas we think it is. we were doing querys unknowningly against the u.s. persons, and it was clearly not appropriate. >> so what i'm hearing from you is the accountability system
worked. >> yes, sir. >> that the issue rose up, we are collecting, we have information on u.s. persons. we don't want to give that information, and immediately the process started to stop that. the court put the top on that and it is clear. >> and we're purging the data as well that we collected under the previous authorization. >> so the issue on 702, most oklahomans i talk to don't know the term 702, but i say should we collect information on terrorist organizations overseas, that are planning to carry out attacks on us, should duo that and they absolutely. they don't want collections on them and their mom, but absolutely for the terrorists. so when we talk about 702 it is
a normal conversation back home that if we miss something international everyone says i thought we were doing this, why aren't we. i appreciate the civil liberties conversation, the privacy questions, i am passionate about them, and it is interesting for me to hear that you're passionate about it and the nsa is passionate about not collecting on americans into when it comes out that it occurred, it shows the system itself worked. its was stopped immediately and the data is purged, but we're still able to target threats internationally. i appreciate that, thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you all for your service, and you all are held at the highest regards by your colleagues and your peers, and i think that speaks volumes of the character of all four of you and i appreciate that very much.
i'm brand new to the committee, this is my first time at this and i don't think there is a person up here that doesn't want to find out the facts and the truth and be able to go back home and explain to colleagues, no matter the political persuasion, that we got the facts from our intel and we appreciate the quality of work that you do, and this is our findings, and we have a hard time getting there. i have respect for where you're coming from. i hope you can understand that sooner or later wbl thethere ha one element of this government that the public can say this is not politically motivated. it's not a witch hunt, no one wants to harm anyone, we just want to do the business of our government and country and do the best we can and they want confidence in the people they elected. today has been very difficult. by me sitting here, listening to some of the answers, and an
ability to answer some of the questions. in the intelligence committee cannot get answers we know in an open setting like this, are thesenswers that we're asking the questio that were simply asked today, wou they be give ton a classified intel setting that we have. can you answer differently than what you can in an open session. i think you said you would be able to answer differently. >> i think i made that very clear. or tried to. >> like wise, i certainly hope so. >> senator, speaking for mr. mccabe and myself. we have been involved in managing the criminal investigation, i ask as the chairman suggested, it's really appropriate for director mueller since we turned over control of the information to him to make the determination of what we can or cannot speak about. i encourage him to be the point
person. >> the questions asked of mr. mccabe, were pretty personal, could you answer differently in a classified setting? >> at this point, a special council involved, i think it would be appropriate for the committee to have a special answering as to where the questions would go. i also point out that as we have, historically, when we're investigating sensitive manners in which operational security is of utmost important, members of the intelligence community typically come and brief the congressional leadership on sensitive investigative matters. we have done so, i have done so, director comey has done so. and some of the questions that you have asked this morning were dressed in those closed, very restricted, very small settings. >> let me say th, if it would be the desire of the chairman
and the vice chairman, if we could, would you all make yourself available so it doesn't linger on? there is a lot of questions and anticipation, build up, anxiety, if you will, i think you would help a lot of us clear the day up if you will. >> if i can address the senate's question, this afternoon is set with technical people to walk us through 702. rest assured we will take the first available opportunity to have people in closed session to address the things they can address. and we will meet to determine if it fits in the scope of his current investigation and we will do that. >> i know, you can tell by the entensity of the questions here, there are a lot of concerns and they're willing to say in a classified h