tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN June 28, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PDT
election. we'll bring you that as soon as it begins. also this morning, president trump seemingly giving russia clearly the benefit of the doubt over election meddling against what our own intelligence agencies have said. just minutes before details about his upcoming meeting with vladimir putin were announced, he took to twitter to write, russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. let's go to abby phillip who joins us at the white house. the timing is interesting to say the least here, abby. >> reporter: really it is. it is also, i think very consequential because this is a commentary that president trump has repeated over and over again. he often repeats it around the time he's meeting with vladimir putin and now we know they are meeting in the summit in helsinki and the president is saying contrary to his own national security advisers that repeating russian talking points saying russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. he then goes on to talk about
the russia investigation, about the mueller investigation, and asking why isn't hillary and russia being looked at? but this is all very puzzling to watchers in part because the u.s. intelligence community still maintains that russia was responsible for election meddling in 2016 and in fact that they plan to do so again. so the president continues to repeat these talking points. we last heard him say something very similar, in vietnam, just shortly after he met with vladimir putin in that country, he talked to reporters on air force one saying when i talk to putin, putin told me he didn't do it and i believed that he -- that he believes what he's saying when he's saying it. the president is not willing to repeat what his national security adviser john bolton told reporters just one day ago that this would be a major topic of conversation with russia at this summit. there are other issues, syria and ukraine, but for the united states, for the president, this is also about the russia
investigation. he sent out two additional tweets this morning, attacking the mueller probe, attacking james comey, attacking hillary clinton. it seems very much these ideas are related. if russia meddling is -- russian meddling happened, then that gives more credence to the mueller probe that he's been trying very hard over the last year plus to discredit. but going into the summit, it is a red flag, not just for people in the united states who say we need to be tougher on russia, but also our allies in europe who are watching this summit very closely. poppy? >> we'll get to that in a moment. thank you, abby, at the white house for us this morning. more on this trump/putin summit. michelle kosinski is here with more details. we know the location, the date, and the president's frame of mind heading into this. >> we have been hearing a couple of different things. we heard from john bolton who said there aren't any real big goals or consequences that we expect to come out of this. it is a meeting, there is lots to talk about. he said having the summit itself
is a deliverable. then we heard the secretary of state who was grilled on capitol hill by lawmakers asking about whether trump is going to bring up the election meddling and he said he was confident that the president would make it very clear to putin that any meddling in the u.s. election would be absolutely unacceptable. well, that's not exactly what we heard from the presidents' tweet this morning. however, we're also hearing from our diplomatic sources that president trump is back on his big idea of getting the u.s. out of syria as quickly as possible. and that he sees this meeting as the first step to forging a deal with russia in which the southwest zone of syria that was under a semisuccessful cease-fire, brokered between the u.s. and russia, some cooperation there, that would be able to be taken over again by russia in support of president assad. in return, russia would be, according to the president's
plan, according to the sources, russia would keep iran out of that area at the very least. major concerns with this plan, though, among u.s. allies are, first of all, would russia be able to keep iran out of there? secondly, without a cease-fire in that area, that means an even bigger and worse and more devastating refugee situation and lastly, this seems to mean that in return for the u.s. at least trying to get out of syria in the near term, president assad stays in power in syria for the indefinite future. so that's something we know that the president wants to discuss with putin, whether they come out with a deal on syria, of course, like everything else, remains to be seen. >> michelle kosinski, appreciate the reporting this morning. now to moscow, our senior international correspondent fred pleitgen is there with reaction. hearing this, from the president, weeks ahead of this summit with president putin has
to make everyone in the kremlin smi smile. >> yeah, i think you're right, poppy. i think one of the main reasons for that is that the tweet that you're seeing from president trump seems to be the exact line that we have been hearing from the kremlin, also from the russian foreign ministry as well. we have been hearing that they believe that president trump is someone who they call a pragmatic politician, who wants better relations with russia despite some of the things that happened around the presidential election in 2016. and they believe that it is president trump's political opponents who are trying to hold that up, making it difficult for him, expelling russian diplomats, putting extra sanctions on russia simply to poison the climate between russia and the united states. so i think you're absolutely right. i think a lot of folks in russia will be very, very happy with that tweet that they saw. and, of course, very much looking forward to that summit. we have to keep in mind, also, poppy, some of the optics we saw yesterday when the national
security adviser john bolton was here in moscow. he came here and very, very quickly, the two sides agreed on the summit taking place. still somewhat unclear all the issues that are going to be on the table. but they very quickly agreed they want the summit and will make it happen and that, of course, after a meeting between john bolton and vladimir putin. seems as though the white house and the kremlin very much on the same page as far as the summit is concerned, and also it seems politically as well. >> and we, you know, the pushback from john bolton who is in that meeting also with the russian ambassador, jon huntsman, the u.s. ambassador is, look, i mean, to the critics who say the summit shouldn't happen or what is the president doing here, why not just try to get on the same page? why not try to accomplish things? namely one of those things would be syria. you have reported on the ground there in syria and reported in iran and when it comes to iran's influence on the ground in syria and the civil war, does president trump, does the united states really have any leverage
over russia and what it wants to see happen in syria? >> i think that if the u.s. went out of syria, they would have very little leverage over the russians. they would have to trust the word of the russians. the other -- the interesting thing that was syria, the russians have a very, very close relationship with the israelis as well. we had benjamin netanyahu here in town a couple of weeks -- a couple of months ago, and then he might be coming back for the close of the soccer world cup in july. on july 15th, just a day before the summit that is going to take place there in helsinki. there are others trying to put leverage on the russians as well. certainly if the u.s. pulls out of syria, that leverage would be gone, essentially in the north of syria and also in the southwestern side of syria as well, that border area with israel. so it appears as though the white house might be trying to strike a deal with the russians, but certainly you're absolutely right, would put a lot of trust in the kremlin to see that
actually through and it is about two things, about trusting them, and also the question is do the russians actually have the power to keep the iranians out of that area and that's obviously a very big question mark as well. >> and, again, the message from the president on twitter isn't about trying to move russia's hand on syria, it is about election meddling in the united states. fred pleitgen from moscow, thank you very much. two of the nation's top law enforcement officials on capitol hill, we're moments away from hearing testimony from fbi director christopher wray and deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. they will shortly face lawmakers questions about their agency's actions surrounding the 2016 election. you might have noticed they got up and the hearing is not under way right now. why is that? our senior congressional correspondent manu raju is on the hill. for viewers who are waiting and i sound like a broken record, saying this is about to begin, it was about to begin. what happened? >> reporter: breaking for votes now. and actually a significant vote
that is happening right now is the beginning of the -- to advance a resolution on the house floor that essentially would call for the justice department, the fbi to provide all records to the house as part of their investigations into russia and to the clinton e-mail investigation and this deadline that the house is going to set, part of the resolution, which will be adopted in about an hour or so, it is going to set about a july 6th deadline to turn over all of these records. now, why this is significant is that republican are saying that if rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general does not meet the july 6th deadline, they may take steps to hold him in contempt or try to impeach him, which would be a dramatic escalation and this fight going on between republicans of the house and the justice department over records. the justice department believes it provided a number of records, part of their investigation, democrats believe they have
given too many records as part of a republican effort to undercut the mueller investigation to undercut the russia investigation, but nevertheless, the fight is intensifying. that's what's happening on the floor today. at the same time, rod rosenstein, christopher wray meeting with the house judiciary committee, going to face some significant questions. you heard in the opening statements of this hearing, just exactly how this is going to break down, republican chairman bob goodlatte saying the fbi acted inappropriately in the 2016 elections and needs to provide more documents. democrats saying all a witch-hunt to go after the clinton e-mail investigation after it has been investigated and investigated especially by the inspector general as of late. so this is how this is going to break down. we'll hear rod rosenstein when he comes back an how he responds to the criticism from republicans about not turning over records because as you'll recall, he said he will not be extorted, so we'll see if he uses such dramatic language in a moment when we do hear his testimony just in a few moments. >> look, manu, you can't see the
pictures i'm looking at here. i'm looking at rod rosenstein smiling, laughing, shaking hands with folks as the lawmakers go out to vote. this is a man who faces potential, you know, impeachment proceedings in an attempt to impeach him from republican members of the house and he seems just fine ahead of this hearing. >> yeah. i think that he views maybe some of this as an empty threat. but actually moving forward with the issue of contempt is a long process. but potentially may not actually amount to much other than being more symbolic than anything else. but the symbolism is what concerns democrats, they believe that the president can use this whole dhing thing as a pretext e rod rosenstein, he's in charge of the mueller investigation and an effort to undercut the mueller investigation. those are the politics behind us. rod rosenstein, at the moment, i think he's prepared to do battle with house republicans if he's fighting with privately, we'll see if any of that emerges publicly in a few moments. >> if anyone has a poker face,
it is rod rosenstein. he's shown that over the past year. manu, thank you for the reporting. we'll get back to you when this gets under way. we'll take you to wisconsin, protests are under way outside of an event for president trump there. we'll take you there live. what does justice anthony kennedy's retirement mean for key issues like abortion, the death penalty, gay rights and affirmative action? a lot. we'll take a closer look ahead. can you love wearing powerful sunscreen? yes! neutrogena® ultra sheer. unbeatable protection helps prevent early skin aging and skin cancer with a clean feel. the best for your skin. ultra sheer®. neutrogena®.
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welcome back. we're waiting for deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, you see his back there, and christopher wray, the fbi director to begin their testimony on capitol hill in front of the house judiciary committee. this is a hearing that got under way, focused on the oversight of the fbi and doj's actions surrounding the 2016 election. you heard from the chairman and the ranking member of the committee, and then they had to take a break for a vote. then they will be back and we will hear the opening statements from the deputy ag and the fbi director.
let's talk about that is ahead. this is a very consequencial he hearing. shimon prokupecz is here, and amber philips, reporter -- political reporter for "the washington post" is here. shimon, walk us through how consequential today is. we heard certainly some of it laid out by goodlatte and by nadler. what is today trying to get at? >> certainly you're going to hear a lot about the 2016, probably the ig report, but i think what i'm going to be looking forward to and sort of hearing is how the two rod rosenstein and christopher wray defend their agencies respectively. you know, as you know, rod rosenstein has come under fire, chris wray, though not directly under fire, his agency certainly has been under fire, so i think we're going to see a lot of that. this is an opportunity for these two men to defend their work, to defend what they have been doing. they don't often speak publicly. but anytime they do, and they
get an opportunity to defend themselves, certainly they do it. i think it is going to be interesting to see questions about the mueller investigation come up, confidential informants, so-called spies in the campaign, if all of that comes up and how they handle those situations. because, you know that is going to come up. so i'm going to be interested to see how they respond to that. certainly we know a lot already about the ig report, christopher wray already testified about some of that. it was during that testimony that he defended the fbi and defended the mueller investigation, saying that it is not a witch-hunt, i'm sure that question will come up again. so those are the things, as much as, you know, we'll be focused on the past, it is also the president and what is going on currently that is going to be an issue. >> and laura jarrett is also with us, our justice department reporter. i think we have -- there she is. laura, good morning to you. >> hi. >> let's talk about how peter strzok's testimony behind closed
doors yesterday plays into today. because one of the headlines out of that closed door session from both republicans and democratic lawmakers who were in there is that strzok told them this is the fbi agent that sent the anti-trump text messages, he told them that the special counsel bob mueller did not grill him, really, about the text messages when he found out about them. now, mueller did let him go and released him from the russia probe he was working on. but democrats play that one way and republicans play it another way. and then you look at the two gentlemen, the deputy attorney general who is going to be on the hill and also christopher wray, what do you expect them to be pressed on when it comes to that agent, peter strzok? >> it will be interesting to see how exactly rosenstein and wray thread the needle on peter strzok. obviously consequential because of his text messages, but he is still technically employed by the fbi. he was escorted out earlier this month after that lengthy inspector general report. he is technically still on the
job and so they have to be careful about what exactly they can say while he's undergoing disciplinary proceedings. obviously lawmakers want to hear there will be consequences for peter strzok, especially house republicans have been pressing that over and over again. and, of course, the backdrop to all of this is the fact that strzok was on mueller's team briefly. so the republicans at least some of them, they say this is fruit of the poisonous tree, because he was on mueller's team from the very beginning, the entire investigation is somehow tainted. but democrats say that's preposterous. he was only one of many members on the team and he certainly wasn't able to affect any of the key decisions. at least from what they have seen thus far. >> josh, to you, as a former fbi supervisory special agent, what are you looking for, especially from christopher wray, the president's pick, to head the fbi, but now the intelligence agency's once again under attack by the president this morning. >> that's right.
oftentimes these hearings can be downright boring, some of the subject matter -- the subjects talked about. this is not one of those hearings. i think we can prepare ourselves for fireworks because the house gop is not going to be satisfied with what they're going to hear. and as we break down official by official, so with rod rosenstein, obviously the house gop have been asking for sensitive details of sources and methods and up until now, the deputy attorney general has been holding the line and saying we're not going to throw open our files for you to come rifle through, we'll provide you with information as part of your oversight duties but not on sources and methods. we'll see fireworks with respect to christopher wray, they want to know who is being held accountable, disciplinary proceedings. chris wray isn't going to go there. it will be interesting to see what his pour chsture is. his posture appears to be is going to move forward and he wasn't there in 2016, so he wasn't, you know, responsible
for what was going on. but i think his goal is to let the fbi's work speak for itself and reiterate, though there may be a sub set of people, a small group, that made bad decisions, strzok and page and mccabe, the fbi is a larger organization than that. i think we'll constantly hear that reaffirming that, look, this is an organization of 37,000 people, those who made mistakes will be held into account but shouldn't represent the rest of the agency. >> wray has been a staunch defender of the agency and the agents as a whole in the wake of the president continuing to attack them. amber, what do you make of the divide that we actually see, even a divide among some of the most conservative members of the republican party on what to do about rod rosenstein? i think it is telling that you have meadows saying if rosenstein and the doj don't turn over the documents having to do with the early days of the russia probe in 2016, by july 6th, we would be open to pushing for, you know, towards impeachment proceedings.
then you have other pretty conservative members like chris stewart of utah, bob goodlatte, the chair of the committee, saying, hold on a minute, hold on a minute, not sure that's necessary. let's see if we can get the answer we need from the documents the doj has already turned over. what do you make of that? >> i think republicans need to figure out where they land on rod rosenstein's future. you're right to zero in on his future. that's because president trump in the past, any number of investigations or findings or classified memos that the house republican committees have declassified has used this to try to discredit in some way, not just bob mueller, not just the justice department at large, but rod rosenstein. and if you look at it, firing rod rosenstein from trump's perspective makes a lot of sense. constitutionally he can do it, where as it gets really iffy on firing bob mueller. and rod rosenstein is the person who oversees and approves all of
the special counsel's work. and so i have heard from capitol hill a lot of red line from republicans on whether the president fires mueller, or even attorney general jeff sessions, rosenstein's boss. i have not heard a clear red line on rosenstein. that's what i'm watching for today. i think you're right, poppy, to zero in on that. >> thank you, all. amber philip, laura jarrett, josh campbell, stick with me as we wait for this hearing to get under way of christopher wray and rod rosenstein. but, look, rosenstein smiling, glad handing people, waiting for this to begin. don't let that deceive you. it will be fireworks, folks. also, anthony kennedy on his way out of the high court after 30 years on the bench. straight ahead, the battle over who will succeed him and his hugely influential key swing vote.
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all right. breaking news in wisconsin. immigration protests under way outside an event for president trump in milwaukee. let's go to ryan young. he is there. you're with protesters. what are they saying this morning? >> reporter: yeah, poppy, look, they have been marching for probably the last half hour. they have been closing streets. the police department has, around this event. so it has been interesting to keep up with them. at one point they were down the street here. i want to show you what they have done. you see the officers here, you see how they used the garbage trucks to block off any access to that area. we, of course, have seen secret service, we'll take you back this direction, you hear the passion from the protesters who have been marching for the last 45 minutes or so to make sure
trump hears their voice. i know you're chanting, but what brought you out here, what made you feel so strongly about this? >> i'm a milwaukee public schoolteacher. i'm the vice president of the milwaukee teachers education association. what is being -- what is happening to families and children at the border of this country is indefensible. it is torture. and the people of the city aren't going to stand by and allow it to happen when there is not just, there is not going to be peace. >> reporter: if trump could hear you now and if he was watching this, what would you want the president to hear? >> the president needs to pay attention to what families and the people across this nation are saying. we're united. we're one. what happens to another family is happening to my family. we're not going to let that happen. >> reporter: describe the passion here. because people have been very
vocal for the last 45 minutes to an hour. how do you feel being here, sitting in the middle of the street? >> it is an honor and a duty. it is our duty. >> reporter: very emotional about this. what is touching you about this so much? >> i would want people to fight for my family. it is that simple. i'm going to be out here, we're going to be out here fighting until our families are safe. >> reporter: thank you. >> thank you. >> reporter: you can feel the passion here, poppy. there has been a conversation about making sure the president definitely hears them, of course, there is that buffer zone, there is that fund-raiser that is happening down the way here. and, like i said, they have been blocking off roads systematically to make sure the protesters can't get so close. they came organized with the signs and they have been marching. for the most part, they stay out of the street. they got closer to here, they did take over and occupy some of
the streets. there is traffic being blocked. so far, no confrontation between the protesters, police or traffic at all. been very peaceful, making sure they get their voices heard, but at the same time, it has been very organized. and she's not the only person who has been crying throughout this. there has been conversations out here where people have been sharing their information in terms of just, like, how they feel about what is going on and what this means for our country. and they definitely want people to know the midwest cares about what is going on at the border. >> ryan young, that was very clear in that interview you did. and the president is there, raising money for governor scott walker, of course, also wisconsin home of house speaker paul ryan. certainly been in the news a lot this week with the harley-davidson news as well, a lot going on there, but a clear message being sent from protesters. thank you, ryan. republican senate leadership says it plans to have a new supreme court justice sworn in and seated by the start of the new term in october. that has angered many democrats who want to stall the vote until
after the midterm election in november in the hope that they might retake the senate and therefore have a say in who replaces retiring justice anthony kennedy. kennedy is retiring at the end of next month and has been a swing vote in many landmark cases over his 30 years on the bench. clearly, clearly leaves the ability for president trump to shift the court firmly to the right. our jessica schneider is in washington with more. and, jessica, there is -- i mean, we know the list that the president is choosing from, but before we get into that, just talk about the importance, how monumental kennedy's vote has been. >> this could be a seismic shift in the balance of power at the court, poppy. it is no doubt the court will change dramatically because it is highly unlikely that the next justice would have the same sort of moderate tendencies that justice kennedy had. kennedy, of course, sided with conservatives on issues like campaign finance and gun control
and voting rights while on the flip side he voted with the liberal wing to uphold abortion rights as well as affirmative action. and, of course, he was the justice who wrote the majority opinion making same sex marriage the law of the land that was in 2015. so while justice kennedy saw both sides here, the justice that president trump nominates will likely be a staunch conservative, and will likely side exclusively with conservative causes brought to the court. what was important to note here is a lot of people are bringing up abortion. a new justice doesn't necessarily mean roe v. wade would be overturned immediately, but a new court with a new conservative member, it would definitely be more likely to uphold restrictive state laws on abortion and that in turn could eventually lead to an overturn of roe v. wade, once the lawsuits at the state level make their way to the supreme court. a lot at stake with this retirement, just because the balance of power in this court will shift so dramatically to a
much more conservative leaning court. poppy? >> and even though the final decision of the term was handed down, this week, they still have some business at hand and that is deciding what cases to hear in the next term in the fall. they have just decided moments ago to hear a case, jessica, about double jeopardy. what can you tell us? >> just when we thought the supreme court had said their final words for the term were getting a bit more information, they did have that closed door conference yesterday. that's when they decide what cases to take up next term. that's also when justice kennedy announced to his fellow justices that he would be retiring. so you're right, the court this morning issuing those orders, deciding to take up seven new cases. one of them pertaining to double jeopardy. i'll put it for you plainly here, they want to take up whether the double jeopardy clause bars states from prosecuting cases that have already been prosecuted at the federal level. so, interesting thing, if they do take it up and decide you can be prosecuted for the same crime
federally and on the state level, could this play into the russia investigation? that is all happening at the federal level. if the court were to say, sure, it could happen at both levels, could there be prosecutions at the state level? we shall see? that's a long time coming. >> you can also only pardon federal cases not in state charges. that may make it more interesting. jessica schneider, thank you for that. let me take you to washington, d.c. right now. the chairman of the house judiciary committee bob goodlatte making his statement. we already heard the opening statements from representative goodlatte and nadler. in just moments, we should be hearing the opening remarks. let's listen in. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein, welcome. >> thank you, members of the committee. i always welcome the opportunity to appear before this distinguished body, but today is not a happy occasion. based on my 30 years of
experience, federal law enforcement working with the outstanding men and women of law enforcement federal, state and local in many of your districts, there is nobody who would be more committed to rooting out abuse and misconduct when there is credible evidence that it occurred. inspector general conducted a thorough investigation, found that some federal bureau investigation employees deviated from important principles in 2016 and 2017. everyone knew about some of those departures when they occurred. such as discussioning criminal investigations and encroaching on prosecutorial decisions. we learned about others through the internal investigation such as leaking to the news media and exhibiting political bias. we need to correct errors, hold wrongdoers accountable and deter future violations. director wray will describe what the fbi is doing to accomplish those goals. at the department of justice, our mandatory annual training
will include lessons from the inspector general's report, and we are considering other recommendations. we already revised department's confidentiality policies to emphasize that nonpublic sensitive information obtained in connection with our work is protected from disclosure. we intend to enforce that principle on our employees, and we need to demonstrate respect for it ourselves by protecting sensitive information and trusting it to the fbi. a congressional oversight is vital to democracy. by june 27th letter which i will submit for your consideration explains how the executive branch handles congressional oversight requests for law enforcement and intelligence information. the fbi is managing an extraordinary volume of congressional oversight requests, some of which seek details about criminal investigations and intelligence sources. as a result of president trump's commitment to transparency, the
fbi is making unprecedented disclosures to the congress including granting access to hundreds of thousands of pages of investigative information and thousands of pages of classified documents. as with most things in washington, the real work is not done on television, it is not all done by me. trump administration officials are meeting and talking with your staff every day. they're work overtime with teams of fbi employees, to accommodate requests and produce relevant information to this committee, other house committees, and several senate committees. this committee requested the production of all documents relevant to the inspector general's review. as you well know, the fbi normally declines such requests because of the circumstances of this case and concerns that we developed during the investigation, the department agreed to produce all relevant fbi documents. i understand that the universe
of potentially relevant documents was in the range of 1.2 million. only a fraction are actually relevant. we began the production even before the inspector general finished the report after we confirmed the investigation was substantially complete and production at that time would not interfere with it. as you know, the fbi struggled for some time with the scope and volume of the production some of your colleagues brought to my attention that the redaction policies created the appearance that relevant information was being concealed. i looked into the issue and i understood their concern. as a result, i called on u.s. attorney john laush from chicago to look into it. he's been working on this project for some time. he brings experience in handling large document productions in the private sector, worked with committee members and staff, and arranged a production process
that seems to be working very well. understand that some people still state concerns about the speed of the production, but those concerns are mistaken. most requests have been fulfilled, another document productions are in progress, before this committee and other committees. i have devoted almost 30 years to the service of my country, and my line of work, we keep an open mind and we complete our investigations before we ledger wrongdoing by anybody. our allegations are made under oath and supported by credible evidence. we treat everyone with respect, and deal with one another in good faith. you and i are the beneficiaries and temporary trustees of a remarkable experiment in self-government, like each member of congress, the deputy attorney general, the fbi director, and other department officials represent the people of the united states. president trump appointed us, senate confirmed our
nominations, and we swore an oath and we accepted responsibility for helping to run the department of justice. that oath requires us to make controversial decisions. so here is the advice i give the department of justice employees faithfully pursue the department's law enforcement mission and the administration's goals in a manner consistent with laws, regulations, policies and principles. be prepared to face criticism. that's part of the job. but ignore the tyranny of the news cycle, stick to the rule of law and make honest decisions that will always withstand fair and objective review. our department's 115,000 employees work diligently every day to keep america safe. most of their good work is never the subject of any congressional hearing. it is a tremendous privilege to work in an organization that seeks the truth and serves the
law. but the department of justice is not perfect. we will keep working to make it better and we welcome your constructive assistance. thank you. >> thank you, deputy attorney general. director wray, welcome. >> thank you. >> i want to thank you both for getting here. i know you've come a long way to get here and under difficult circumstances with an injury. >> thank you, good morning, mr. chairman. members of the committee. i appreciate this opportunity to discuss the fbi's response to the inspector general's report on doj and fbi activities in the run-up to the 2016 election. we take that report very seriously and we accept its findings and its recommendations. we are already doing a whole number of things to address those recommendations. and we are determined to emerge from this experience better and
wiser. the fbi is entrusted with a lot of authority, and our actions are appropriately therefore subject to close oversight. that oversight can make the fbi stronger and the public safer. part of that oversight includes responses to legitimate oversight requests for documents and information. for months we have been working with your committees to make witnesses available, answer questions, and produce or make available to you and your staff over now 880,000 pages. although we have now substantially complied with a majority of the committee's subpoena, we are determined to get through the outstanding items and we have increased staffing on this project even further. in just the past week, for example, we had approximately 100 employees working day and night, dedicated to this project, through the weekend, to
collect, review, process and produce severals of pages. though the ig report did not find any bias impacting the investigation under review, that report did identify errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy and decisions that certainly in the benefit of hindsight were not the best choices. i would like to briefly summarize the steps we're taking. first, we're going to be holding employees accountable for misconduct. we have already referred conduct highlighted in the report to the office of professional responsibility, which is the fbi's independent disciplinary arm. and once the necessary process is complete, we will not hesitate to hold people strictly accountable. second, we're making sure that every employee understands the lessons of the ig's report through in depth training, starting at the top, starting
with the executives. so we don't repeat mistakes identified in that report. third, we're making sure that we have the policies, the procedures and the training needed for everyone to understand and remember what is expected of all of us. that includes drilling home the importance of objectivity and avoiding even the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias. ensuring that recusals are handled correctly, making all employees aware of our new media policy which i issued last november and making clear that we will not tolerate noncompliance with that policy. ensuring that we follow doj policies about public statements on ongoing investigations and uncharged conduct and ensuring that we adhere strictly to all policies and procedures on the use of fbi systems, networks, and devices. i've also directed our new associate deputy director, the number three official in the
fbi, to lead a review of how we staff, structure, and supervise sensitive investigations so that we can make sure that each one is conducted to our highest standards. the ig report makes clear that we have got important work to do, but i do want to emphasize that this report is focused on a specific set of events, in 2016, a small number of employees connected with those events. nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole where the fbi as an institution. i want to be very clear with this committee about the fbi that i've gotten to see up close and personal in the ten months since i've taken on this job. as i meet with our offices, all over the world, offices represented by every one of the members up here on the dais, i encounter remarkable, inspiring stories about the work our 37,000 men and women are doing every single day.
we have rescued more than 1300 kids from child predators this year alone. we have arrested more than 4600 violent gang members in just the past few months. we have disrupted recently terrorist plots ranging from places like fisherman wharf in san francisco. our men and women are doing all of that great work and much, much more with the unfailing fidelity to our constitution and the laws that it demands, the bravery that it deserves, and the integrity that the american people rightly expect. that means we're going to do this job by the book. i am committed to doing that. i would not be here if i wasn't committed to making sure we do it that way and i expect all our employees to do the same. that means following our rules, following our policies, following our long-standing norms, there will be times when we feel extraordinary pressure
not to follow our process and policies, but in my view, those are precisely the times that we need to adhere to them the most. we have got to stay faithful to our best traditions, and our core values, making sure we're not doing the right thing, but doing it in the right way and pursuing the facts independently and objectively no matter who likes it. that in my view is the only way we can maintain the trust and credibility of the people we serve. mr. chairman, and members of the committee, thank you again for the opportunity to address inspector general's report. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. >> thank you, director wray. we'll proceed under the five-minute rule with questions. i'll recognize the gentleman from florida, mr. desantis. >> welcome to the witnesses. mr. rosenstein, august 8th, 2016, text message in the ig report from lisa page to peter strzok. trump's not ever going to become president, right? right? peter strzok responds no, no,
he's not, we'll stop it. the justice department had previously provided text messages from that date. they included all the messages we now have except the we'll stop it text message. why didn't the justice department produce that to congress when we asked? >> mr. desantis, i spoke with our inspector general michael horowitz yesterday and he told me when he testified, he didn't have a full opportunity to explain and the technological details are pretty complicated, but he assured me had a long telephone conversation with mr. jordan after the hearing and explained it. he's much better position than i. what i can assure you -- >> let me just ask this then, let me say this -- >> i want to assure you and the american people, we're not withholding anything embarrassing. the message was not in the original material that inspector general -- he found these messages. >> right, so you guys didn't find it and he did. and so we're asking you to produce stuff and obviously, you know, we're expecting a good faith effort, you guys didn't
find it, and maybe somebody else deleted or something happened before you guys, but he was able to find it and you didn't. it is very disappointing to see that text message there, because i think you would agree, just think of the timeline here, you have peter strzok, he opens up the counterintelligence investigation against trump's campaign, the end of july, then a week later this text message, he ain't going to be president, we'll stop it, then the next week, the infamous insurance text message, we can't take the risk of a trump presidency, you need an insurance policy. the american people see that, doesn't that undermine the whole integrity of the actions of people like peter strzok? >> yes, congressman, that obviously is highly inappropriate. and -- >> it is more than that, though. it is more than that. i mean, the inspector general did find the bias affected. he didn't say it affected the decision about hillary, but said once we got into the fall, when you had the huma abedin e-mails and slow walking on that by peter strzok, he was really concerned with pursuing this
collusion investigation. he testified on the record that it was absolutely reasonable to say that the bias not only existed, but affected what he did. let me ask you this. what did the doj or fbi do in terms of collecting information, spying or surveillance on the trump campaign, be it stefan halper or anybody else working on behalf of the agencies? >> as you know, i'm not permitted to discuss any classified information in an open setting, but i can assure you that we are working with oversight committees and we're producing all relevant evidence to allow and answer those questions. >> did the obama administration, anybody in the administration direct anybody, halper, anybody else, to make contact with anyone associated with kamt pth campaign? >> i understand your interest, i'm not permitted to discuss classified -- >> we want the documents. we're in a back and forth on that. the american people need to know were the counterintelligence powers of the obama administration unleashed against
trump's campaign, if that was done, was it done appropriately. let me ask you this, you talk about the mueller investigation, it is really the rosenstein investigation. you appointed mueller, you're supervising mueller and supposedly about collusion between trump's campaign and russia and obstruction of justice, but you wrote the memo saying that comey should be fired. and you signed the fisa extension for carter page. my question to you is, it seems like you should be recused from this more than jeff sessions because you were involved in making decisions affecting both prongs of the investigation. why haven't you done that? >> i can assure you that appropriate for me to recuse, i would be more than happy to do so and let somebody else handle this. it is my responsibility to do it. and all i can tell you -- >> how do you have obstruction of justice possibility for a president exercising his powers to fire an fbi director that you said should be fired and, oh, by the way, the ig report makes it clear, jim comey should have been fired. why are we still doing this with the mueller probe?
>> i am not commenting on what is under investigation by the mueller probe and to the best of my knowledge neither is mr. mueller. there is speculation in the media about that. that doesn't relief me and my obligation to discuss it. >> do you accept what the ig said about peter strzok, the huma abedin e-mails, how he slow walked that, he was so gung ho about the trump russia collusion. he texted lisa page, the other thing hillary mattered because we didn't want to mess it up. this matters because it matters. that's what he wanted to do. and that's where he was focusing his energy on. horowitz said his bias is appropriate explanation for his conduct. do you agree? >> i certainly agree with the findings of the inspector general report and i think the messages do indicate bias. >> you have work to do. because if the bias is affecting official action, that is a big, big problem. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair recognizes gentle woman from california, miss
lofgren, for five minutes. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein and director wray, this may be an appropriate time to make what is kind of an easy request, but could you state for the record what is the department of justice and federal bureau of investigation's policy on commenting on any matter related to an ongoing criminal or counterintelligence investigation? and does this policy apply to document production, even when requested by congress? >> yes, congresswoman, director wray may be able to speak more specifically to the reasons where why the fbi doesn't comment on counterintelligence investigations, but we do not discuss counterintelligence investigations or criminal investigations while ongoing. >> congresswoman, it is always been my experience that the department and the fbi did not comment on ongoing
investigations. there are a number of reasons for that go back to all of the days when i was a line prosecutor and long, long before that. they have to do with protecting the reputations and the privacy of the people who are subject of the investigation, they have to do it protecting the integrity of the ongoing investigation, they have to do with protecting the rights to fair trial when that is relevant and there are a whole number of reasons and when you add the counterintelligence to mention, there is the need to protect sources and methods. and one of the central learnings of the inspector general's report, frankly, that we're here talking about with this committee, is about what goes wrong when you do talk about ongoing investigations. >> so these policies apply to all current and former personnel, doj and fbi and the special counsel investigation, correct? >> that's correct. >> thank you. you know, it seems to me, i mentioned this the other day, that we are here pursuing
release of information that in my experience on this committee, 24 years on this committee and nine years as a member of the staff of one of the members of the committee, i've never seen this happen before. and having been given the opportunity along with just mr. nadler, mr. goodlatte and mr. gowdy, to actually read the entire application on the carter page, the fisa application, along with the accompanying documents, took me all day, i canceled all my appointments. it is very obvious why that material should not be in the public arena. there are people, i think, who would certainly -- could lose their lives if their identities were made known. and it is an example of the requirement that you labor under, but also that the committee labors under. i want to mention, mr. jordan is
here, so he'll correct me if my understanding is incorrect. but i understand mr. jordan accused you, mr. rosenstein, on the floor during debate, of threatening the hip sy staff if they attempt to hold you in contempt for failing to comply with document requests. i think it is important to put this on the record. have you ever threatened congressional staff including but not limited to house intelligence committee staff as it relates to requests for your -- for you to produce documents or any other matter for that? >> congresswoman, people make all kinds of allegations. and in my business, we ask who is the witness, how credible are they? if someone comes forward and swears under oath i threatened them, i'll be happy to respond. all i can tell you with regard to that matter is that in the room at the time were three officials appointed by president trump, confirmed by the united
states senate, director wray, assistant attorney general boyd and me, two former u.s. republican attorneys were also in the room with us, greg brower, serving as the legislative liaison for the fbi and scott schools. the answer is, no. >> thank you very much. i would like to close with this as my time is running out. it seems to me that we are asking you to violate the policies that you labor under and we have been doing that repeatedly. we have got the 500 page ig report, you've acknowledged the needs to improve areas. last week we held a six-hour hearing. yesterday, 11 hours, trying to get the fbi to violate the same policies that you are upholding today. and i think it is really not what this committee should be doing. i do not believe it is in the best interests of this country and certainly it does not uphold
and elevate the rule of law, which is what this committee should be doing and has been doing for the quarter century that i've served on it. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. gates, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, director wray, i am in violent agreement with the statements you made after the report was published that nothing in the report impugns the patriotic work of the fbi employees who are serving in my district and around the world and this mess in washington has nothing to do with them, and i want to make that very clear. i appreciate your statements on that subject. deputy director, the democratic memo that the president declassified says the department of justice accurately informed the court that the fbi initiated its counterintelligence investigation on july 31st, 2016, did any investigative activity regarding the trump campaign and russia occur before july 31st, 2016? >> congressman, as you know, we're dealing with the int intelligence committee on that