tv Christopher Wray Pledges Strict Independence at FBI Helm CSPAN July 12, 2017 9:34am-2:09pm EDT
>> first of all i should say welcome to everybody particularly our colleagues and nominees and family and friends and citizens here for a very important nominee hearing. you're welcome. the committee is considering, as you know, the nomination of christopher wray. mr. wray, congratulations to you and your family on your no, ma'am nak-- nomination. this is an important day for the country considering the importance of fbi and law
enforcement in america. i welcome you, mr. ray and your family, to the committee. the ranking member and i will give omitting and then senator nunn will introduce anybody he wants to and then we will turn to questions. as an accommodation we will have ten minute rounds for questions during the first round rather than the normal 7 the director of the federal bureau of investigation is charged with running a vast agency this would threaten the civil libber -- or
if it is used inappropriately i should have said. when use aid prop yacht-- appro attorney general is commonly referred to as the top law enforcement officer in our country. it requires calmness under significant pressure and a very level head. from what i have seen so far from meetings and from looking at his record he appear to possess these qualifications. he has an empreimpressive legal
career and clerk for a judge of the fourth circuit and spending many years as an assistant u.s. attorney and was on the front lines in cases involving violent crime and public corruption and fraud. during his time as a prosecutor he often worked closely with the fbi. while there in that position he received the highest award for public service and leadership. in 2003 mr. wray was confirmed to lead the criminal division of the department of justice he managed nearly all areas of federal criminal law. there too he worked closely with federal law enforcement partners and key senior officials at the
fbi. of course it's finally important for the fbi director to be independe independent. i have seen mr. wray's -- he prosecuted little guys and big guys as we tend to separate people in our seat including a major league baseball lplayer a gun gun traffickers. he prosecuted those on both sides of the political spectrum including those working on a republican campaign bliel at the justice. he oversaw the task force that investigated enron. it lead to convictions to several of our enron executives.
it includes other appointees and i'll enter at the end of my statement without objection letters of support for mr. wray. the top prpriority. needs to be accountable when practicing protecting our nation from terrorism against foreign intelligence threats and against cyber attacks and high-technology crimes. the gravity is clear when we remember the scores of americans and others killed or wounded in many terrorist events on u.s. vo soil following the tragic event.
isis and other groups have inspired terrorist attacks in san bernardino, orlando, st. clo cloud, new york city, columbus and other places that we tend to and shouldn't forget. uniformly these terrorist attacks showed the fbi must have the tools it needs to predict against and investigate terrorism and other violent crimes in the homeland these tools must preserve civil liberties while being adapted to changing threat streams and advances in technology.
section 7302 received a strong support and now the trump administration and up for reauthorization at the end of the year. many federal courts, the surveillance court and privacy and civil liberties board have found section 702 constitutio n constitutional. they do face questions about section 702 investigation and the impact on privacy and civil liberties. in addition the fbi must also have the tools needed to navigate the going dark problem as more and more use inkripgen
look forward in keeping with the fbi's mission. of course everyone here knows i care about whistle blowers. president obama signed the bill that we worked together to pass the law clarifies fbi employees who make disclosures to supervisors are protected. there are still a lot of problems with the whistle blower protection process. the justice department doesn't allow fbi agents to get a judicial review. it concerns me that the department and fbi hasn't worked with us on the legislation to fix that. fbi whistle blowers need to support to ensure there is a speedy and effective way to resolve their cases. i would like to insurance that
wl wlis l blowers will not face retaliation. i said that a cloud of doubt hangs over the objectivity. james comey said that the people don't give a rip about politics but mr. comey installed as his deputy director a man wloz wife ran for the virginia state senate accepted almost a million dollars. that's a lot of money for one state senate seat. she a long-time friend and fundraiser for the clintons and democratic party. his official buy ago fi was used in setting up a meeting and the
goal was to get his wife to run for office. it prohibits partisan by fbi officials. inspector general is reviewing whether he should have been recused from the clinton investigation based upon his financial ties to the clinton political network. he was also named in a sex discrimination lawsuit by a female fbi agent who alleged retaliation. just last week it was reported that michael flynn wrote a letter in support of the female
agent. three fbi employees personally witnessed him making remarks during the russian investigation. it calls into request whether he handled that fairly and objectively. it is appropriate checks against the sticivil liberties. it is people elected representatives. that's why the fbi director has a ten year term limit and why there are no restrictions on the ability of any president to fire any director as president trump did. the term limit is not a floor
and while it is critical and this committee intends to closely examines it history shows that the ten year term limit isn't there to protect the fbi director from politicians or politics. it's there to help prevent the fbi director from overreaching or abusing power. the fbi was run by the most independent in history. the very people charged was constraining his power or targets of his secret files, so are the americans whose civil liberties were cancelled by the program and hoover's own illegal abuses yet the fbi building still bears his name just as the bureau bears his weight of his ugly legacy. the people rule not the police
or military. vig use oversight by elected officials are both the executive both the legislative branches to predict that liberty. i have been doing vigorous oversight work for my entire career on this committee. as long as i'm chairman i will continue to ask important questions and expect honest answers on behalf of the american people. just yesterday we had a hearing in the crime sub committee that sill straited the congress exercising his constitutional n authority to do intelligence matters. it is the important to ensure
accountability and of course it ignores history. this committee has received detailed information about ongoing criminal matters and foreign intelligence surveillance activity in the past and we will continue to seek that information. that's what oversight and accountabilities are all about. in the past the fbi has resisted accountability to congress and has been unresponsive to our letters. and i know for sure about my letters. mr. wray, you and i have spoken about this problem and i expect you to change this practice. i would like an assurance from you that you will be responsive to my work and my questions and document requests will be taken seriously and answered in a timely and complete manner. so once again, i thank mr. wray for his willingness to return to public service and i look forward to a full and candid
conversation with him today. >> thanks very much. i would like to begin by welcoming the nominee's family to this hearing. i wantday. this is probably as good as it gets, so enjoy it. >> that's doubtful. >> i'd also like to recognize my former colleague and present good friend sam nun. it's great to welcome you back, sam. you were a beacon of integrity and skrcrutiny and good logic while you served in the senate. welcome back. the position of fbi director is currently vacant, because of a situation. and i want to speak about that. on may 9th of this year, president trump fired james comey. although we're still sorting out all of the circumstances and
details surrounding the president's decision, it does not appear that mr. comey was fired because the bureau was a mess, as originally stated. nor is there evidence that mr. comey was dismissed because rank and file fbi agents had either lost confidence in him or because of his handling of the clinton investigation. rather, we find that rank and file agents of the fbi did and couldn continue to overwhelmingly support james comey. in addition deputy attorney general rosenstein told members of congress that when he wrote his memo, president trump had already decided to remove mr. comey as fbi director. based on press reports and the president's own words, the reason mr. comey was dismissed was because he would not pledge his loyalty to the president and he would not lift the cloud of
the russia investigation. president trump said in a televised interview, for example, i was going to fire comey regardless of recommendation. and, quote, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story, end quote. as the fbi's investigation into russian election interference and possible coordination with the trump campaign progressed, it appears the president became more and more concerned with director comey's unwillingness to cooperate. in the flynn matter as well as the russia matter. all of this raises important questions for the next fbi head and particularly for his independence. first and foremost, the fbi is and must remain an independent
law enforcement organization, free from political influence. and this starts at the very top. the fbi director kdoes not serv the president. he serves the constitution, the law and the american people. as such, the director of the fbi must be a leader who has the integrity and strength that will enable him to withstand any attempts at political interference. today, the judiciary committee will fully examine the qualifications, integrity and independence of the nominee before us. will mr. ray and the fbi pursue investigations with independence and vigor, regardless of who may be implicated. will he stand up for what is right and lawful. will he tell the president no if improperly directed to pursue or
end certain investigations. these are not abstract questions or hypotheticals, and the committee must consider how mr. ray has handled such situations in the past. according to one press account, for example, mr. ray expressed his readiness to resign alongside then deputy attorney general comey and fbi director mueller in a standoff with the bush white house about the legality of the nsa's warrantless surveillance program. yet john you testified that mr. ray was part of the senior leadership in the justice department that may have refused an office -- reviewed an office of legal counsel memo justifying the use of enhanced
interrogation techniques. this is significant not only because of what it says about mr. ray's views and independence at the time, but we know there are those who would bring back torture if they could. and so how he will handle this as the fbi director is important. in 2009, this committee heard important testimony stating that fbi interrogators have traditionally used the informed interrogation approach. an fbi agent who was a key fbi interrogator for several major terrorism investigations testified to us directly about the contrast between the fbi's techniques and the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the cia during the bush administration. specifically, he testified that these enhanced techniques were
operationally ineffective, slow and unreliable, and ultimately harmful to counter terrorism efforts. in fact, we learned that back in 2002, then fbi director bob mueller ended the fbi's participation in the interrogation of zubada and other cia detainees because of the harsh torture methods being used and because they were undermining the investigation. in fact, he pulled his people out. this is important. the issue of interrogation techniques is not just something of the past. in february of this past year, then candidate trump claimed that torture works and has said that he would, quote, immediately, end quote, bring back water boarding and, quote, much worse, end quote. so i am particularly interested
in hearing more about the nominee's knowledge of the justice department's legal justification for the cia's use of torture during the bush administration, as well as his knowledge of detainee abuse by the military in iraq. i have said before that the cia's use of torture as part of its detention and interrogation program are a stain on our nation's value and our nation's history. the senate intelligence committee's torture report was issued in december of 2014 when i was chairman of that committee. it outlined in specific the horrific abuses of detainees as well as the flimsy legal reasoning used to justify such practices. mr. ray was the principal associate deputy attorney general at the justice department when the office of
legal counsel issued the so-called torture memos in 2002 and 2003. one of the authors of these memos, john you, testified that olc would not have issued such opinions without the approval of the office of the attorney general or the office of deputy attorney general. in fact, in his testimony john you specifically referenced mr. way as one of the individuals who would have received drafts of olc memos. this raises the question of what exactly was mr. ray's role in reviewing and approving these memos. i'd like mr. ray to clear this up this morning. i've had an opportunity to talk with him. i think this should go on the record and i think that he should respond directly to the full committee. i'm also concerned by reports that mr. ray was alerted early
onto the abuse of detainees at t the prison in iraq. this committee is charged with considering mr. ray's qualifications and experience with criminal and counter terrorism investigations, but we must also examine his independence, his integrity and his willingness to stand up in the face of political pressure, because it will most certainly come. mr. chairman, thank you for holding this hearing and i look forward to hearing from the nominee. >> thank you. we now go to former colleague of ours, senator from georgia, sam nunn for an introduction of our nominee. senator feinstein used a lot of
adjectives about you that i would associate myself with, but i also had the privilege of serving you for at least more than a decade and a half and maybe two decades and i know well how you were a determined senator to get things done and represent your people well. welcome to the committee and you may proceed. >> thank you very much, chairman grassly and senator feinstein. it's a great honor to appear before this committee today for the purpose of introducing christopher wray, the president's nominee to be the director of the fbi. history does seem to rhyme. in 1977 i introduced judge griffin bell to this committee, strongly recommending him. i described judge bell then as a man noted for his quick mind,
his candor, his integrity and his independence. years later in may 2003, judge bell contacted me. i was out of the senate at that stage. praising chris wray as a rising star. he suggested that i recommend him to my former senate colleagues as a terrific choice to be confirmed to head the criminal division of the department of justice. since that time, i followed chris's career in and out of government and i've satisfied myself fully that my support for chris in 2003 was well placed. i can assure this committee that chris embodies the same traits that enable griffin bell to rebuild public confidence in the department of justice, quickness of mind, candor, integrity and independence. a couple of questions. what is the basis of my confidence in chris? and senator feinstein, i hope to address some of your questions
in answering that question i pose. from his service as assistant united states attorney in atlanta in 1997 where chris worked with the fbi in the trenches of federal criminal investigations and prosecutions to 2010 when he served as then deputy attorney general larry thompson's principal deputy. chris has been a leader in helping guide the department of justice, including the fbi. after the september 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, chris worked tirelessly with the justice department leadership. newly appointed fbi director mueller as well as other senior fbi officials to respond to the attacks and to help restructure the department to enable it to more effectively prevent future acts of terrorism. chris also helped oversee other department of justice priorities including the project safe neighborhoods initiative.
he was instrumental in forming the department's corporate fraud task force. in 2003 at age 36, as i mentioned, chris was nominated by president bush to lead the justice department's criminal division. the senate unanimously confirmed chris for this position. chris demonstrated that the senate's confidence in him was justified by capably overseeing what are now two critically important divisions at the department. the criminal division and the national security division. in recent years, i have observed chris wray close up in his leadership role at king and spalding where he heads the special matters team. incidentally also started by judge bell. in private practice, chris came to be regarded very quickly as one of the most skillf fuful
investigative lawyers in the country. chris wray possesses an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. he has a proven track record of following the facts and the law independent of favor or influence. chris commands the respect and admiration of lawyers and judges and all who have observed his conduct and his record. chris understands that the fbi and the department of justice owe loyalty to the constitution, our laws and our nation and not to any particular office holder. he has demonstrated his commitment to these fundamental principals iniples be upheld at department of justice. i would like to read one paragraph from a recent letter endorsing chris's nomination that larry thompson sent to chairman grassly and ranking member feinstein. and i quote larry thompson.
i have had the chance during my career to work with men and women who have served at the department of justice in democratic and republican administrations alike. i have witnessed them handling the most sensitive investigations and matters imaginable. i can tell firsthand that i've not worked with or seen an individual with a keener sense of the department's mission and the need for the department's business to be conducted free from favor, influence or partisanship, end quote. my second question, why is chris wray's timely confirmation so important to the fbi and to our nation? if confirmed, i have complete confidence that chris will follow the facts and the law with fairness, with thoroughness, intelligence and objectivity, wherever that path may lead. every member of this committee knows how important the job of
fbi director is to our nation, particularly during challenging times. history tells us that among its many other important tasks, we rely on the department of justice and the fbi to serve as a powerful check on the executive branch, including the president. and even on occasion a check on itself. this has been made clear in the 1972 watergate investigation, the 1986 iran contra investigation, the 1990s whitewater investigation. and the early 2000 nsa domestic surveillance episode. chairman grassly, as you pointed out in all of these challenges, sustained, thorough congressional oversight is absolutely essential for our nation. what we ask of the men and women of the fbi is enormous. keeping our nation safe, upholding our laws,
investigating law brake breakel. the fbi deserves a permanent director so they can accomplish these tasks with our nation's full confidence. there's too much at stake to allow this nomination to stand idle. chris wray is the leader with integrity that the bureau needs at this critical moment. i thank you, chairman, senator feinstein and members of this committee for moving forward expeditiously on this nomination. my bottom line, i am confident in meeting day to day pressures as well as in periods of enormous consequence, chris wray will devote every ounce of his intellect, his skills and sound judgment to protecting the american people and upholding our constitutional principles. mr. chairman, senator feinstein and members of the committee, i strongly urge the committee and the senate to confirm chris wray
as director of the federal bureau of investigation. and i thank you for letting me appear today with these words. thank you very much. >> and we thank you for your appearance and what you have said about our nominee and particularly to get it done quickly. we thank you very much. >> mr. chairman, i remember very well senator nunn's testimony in favor of griffin bell. i've served here with 379 individual u.s. senators. sam nunn is win of the absolute best i've ever served with. we've been dear friends. we sat near each other on the senate floor. i learned a lot with him. every experience with him was great except the one time we were in a darkened room and the swat team came in firing life ammunition around us. that's a different story. it's an honor to have you here,
sam. i'm delighted to see you. please give my best to colleen. >> thank you senator very much. >> before you're seatted, i'd like to give the oath now. do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you very much. i think that i more or less introduced you in my opening comments. so i think now whatever time you take for the usual thing is for a statement, but also it's quite usual in this committee that my introductions you want to make, you can appropriately make those. that's your decision.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, senator feinstein, members of the committee, thank you for the privilege of appearing before you today. i also want to thank senator nunn for that really very kind introduction. there's no way i could contemplate undertaking an endeavor like this without the love and support of my family. with me here today is my wife helen, both of our kids, caroline and trip, my parents gill da and cecil wray. my niece maggie. my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and two of their children amelia and clark. a commitment like this affects the whole family and i have no words to adequately express my gratitude to all of them. i'm honored by the president to be nominated to lead the fbi and
i'm humbled by the prospect of working alongside the outs standing men and women of the bureau. time and time again, often when the stakes are highest, they have proven their unshakable commitment to protecting americans, upholding our constitution and our laws and demonstrating the virtues of the fbi motto, fidelity, bravery and integrity. former attorney general and judge grirch beffin bell, who i the great pleasure to work with quite a bit early in my career, often used to say that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. and i think in my experience the men and women of the fbi demonstrate the limitless potential of that saying day after day in the way they tackle the mission.
while the fbi has justly earned the reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, its special agents, analysts and support staff more often than not operate largely out of public view. they toil at great risk to themselves and at great sacrifice by their families. but they happy defer individual recognition because they believe that the principles they serve are much larger than themselves. i feel very fortunate to have been able to witness that kind of selfless and inspiring commitment firsthand throughout my career in public service. as a prosecutor i learned a great deal with working with brave fbi agents on everything from bank robberies to public corruption, from kidnapping to financial fraud.
those agents are my friends to this day and they taught me a lot about what it means to play it straight and to follow the facts wherever they may lead. i continued my career in public service in the summer of 2001 by moving to washington to work at the justice department with my friend and mentor then deputy attorney general larry compton who you also heard senator nunn reference. after 9/11 i witnessed against firsthand the fbi's extraordinary capabilities as the people there worked around the clock and moved heaven and earth to try to ensure that horrific attacks like those that occurred on september 11th never happen again. i know from up close and i sleep better because i know that the horror of 9/11 has never faded from the fbi's collective memory. the bureau has never grown complacent and continues to work
tirelessly every day to protect all americans. as head of the justice department's criminal division, i again saw countless examples of the fbi's unflagging pursuit of justice, free and independent of any favor or influence. from counter terrorism and counter espionage to the then rapidly escalating threat of cyber crime, from human trafficking to public corruption and financial fraud, i worked with and learned from the men and women of the fbi who put it all on the line to make our streets safer and our lives better. if i am given the honor of leading this agency, i will never allow the fbi's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice, period, full stop.
my loyalty is to the constitution and to the rule of law. those have been my guide posts throughout my career andly continue to adhere to them no matter the test. there is no doubt as this committee knows that our country faces grave threats. as lots of other people have noticed, america's law enforcement and intelligence agencies have essentially to pitch a perfect game every day, while those who would inflict harm on us just have to hit once to advance their aims. i consider the fbi director's most important duty to ensure that nothing distracts the selfless patriots at the fbi from the mission. in conclusion, i pledge to be the leader that the fbi deserves and to lead an independent bureau that will make every american proud. thank you, mr. chairman, senator
feinstein. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. >> before my first ten-minute starts, we're going to have ten-minute rounds just in case nobody came late and didn't hear what i said about that. there are two votes scheduled at 12 cl 12:30. senator feinstein and i had a short conversation before the meeting and i asked if she thought we could get done by 12:30. she said we hope so. but obviously we're going to let people go as long on their questions as they want to. but i would ask people to think in terms of people chairing the committee so we don't lose a whole 45 minutes while we're having votes. so think that in mind. my first series of questions are going to seem maybe very softball and they probably are softball, but i think that
they're very important to every member of this committee, particularly when they have an administration that says that democrats can't get answers to their questions when they do their oversight work or even 30 republicans that aren't chairman of committees that can't get answers to their questions and things like the role of whistle blowers. that may not sound like the stuff that is basic to your job, but it's basic to the constitutional principle we have of separation of powers and the constitutional role of congress. we've heard a lot about the need for an fbi to show independence. you just heard what senator feinstein said about that. and also for the fbi to make decisions free of political pressure or influence. so i'll just ask a very broad question and let you share your thoughts on this subject. what is your view on the independence of the fbi generally, but more importantly as you as director head up that
organization? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i believe to my core that there's only one right way to do this job and that is with strict independence, by the book, playing it straight, faithful to the constitution, faithful to our laws and faithful to the best practices of the institution. without fear, without fa favoritism. that's the commitment that i brought to my years to duty as a line prosecutor that's the commitment i brought to my time as head of the criminal division. that's the commitment that i think the american people rightly expect of the fbi director. and that's the commitment i would make to this committee and to the country if confirmed. and i have way, way, way too much respect and affection,
frankly, for the men and women of the fbi to do anything less than that. and i would just say anybody who thinks that i would be pulling punches as the fbi director sure doesn't know me very well. >> thank you. in my opening statement i emphasized the importance of oversight in helping to make government a more transparent and more accountable as a result and hopefully more effective. so do i have your assurance that if you're confirmed, you will assist me and members of this committee because of our jurisdiction, but maybe i ought to speak for i hope 100 members of congress share this view, assist us with our oversight activities, be responsive to our requests and help make the fbi more accountable to the american people. >> mr. chairman, i understand
completely what you're getting at. i think the role of this committee is special with respect to the fbi and i would do everything i could to ensure that we're being appropriately responsive and prompt in dealing with all the members of the senate, but obviously especially this committee. >> and then kind of along the same lines but not just your involvement personally, would you pledge to provide information to congress in a timely manner and to foster open and frequent communications between the fbi and this committee regarding our oversight requests? >> mr. chairman, i would do everything in my power to try to ensure that the fbi is being not just as responsive as possible but as prompt as possible in responding to appropriate oversight requests, absolutely. >> i'll now go to whistle blowers. i don't know whether i used this exact language in my office private conversation with you and it doesn't matter whether i did or not, but i have a feeling
that not just the fbi but most agencies treat whistle blowers like they're a skunk at a picnic. but i think it's a little different in the fbi from the standpoint that there isn't the exact protection for whistle blowers at the fbi. it's different than most other agencies except national security. when we met, i gave you a list of fbi whistle blower cases. that list shows that it has taken two to ten years to get cases resolved by the department of justice internal process. now, you may not have any control over that internal process, but the extent to which you do, i guess that's how i'm asking this question. fbi whistle blowers also have no access to independent review and the fbi rarely disciplines anyone for retaliating against a whistle blower. tone is set at the top. that's why it's so important how
you feel about this. how will you protect whistle blowers in the fbi and hold retaliators accountable not just with your words but with your actions? i'm sorry to say your pr predecessors did a poor job in this respect. although they may have been very effective in running a law enforcement agency. >> mr. chairman, your reputation for looking out for whistle blowers, i think, is maybe unparalleled. and certainly i know this is a topic that's very important to you. first off, retaliation against whistle blowers is just wrong, period. i'm obviously not familiar with yet the bureau's internal processes, but there needs to be a process that allows for appropriate concerns to be raised. and whistle blowers, in my experience, having seen them in a lot of different kinds of organizations, can play a very important role in ensuring
accountability. it's not just oversight from congressional committees and courts, but there is a form of accountability that comes from within. and oftentimes whistle blowers can be very important parts of that. >> i appreciate your words. i think, if i remember right, that whistle blowers should not be retaliated against. i want to ensure you that at least two of your predecessors have told me exactly the same thing. i think it's how you interpret your own words that whistle blowers shouldn't be retaliated against. but you can understand why i have -- i don't expect that you're misleading me in any way, but your good intentions may not be carried out so i think it's important that you know that. i'm not going to ask you the last question but i want you to be aware of the fact that fbi whistle blowers are the only federal law enforcement officers who have no access to an
independent judicial review. and members of this committee, along with this senator, are pursuing legislation along that line. and i would hope that we get some, as you think about it, get some support for you so that your law enforcement people aren't treated differently from other in the federal government. now i want to go to national security. i've got three minutes left. there's no doubt that you are extremely qualified individual with a diverse array of work experience, particularly in investigating fraud. but the top priorities of the fbi are focused on national security with the ultimate goal to protect and defend the united states against terrorism and foreign intelligence threats. any fbi director needs to capably and effectively lead the fbi national security mission. so to that effect, please explain to us how you have the relevant background skills, knowledge and experience necessary to lead the fbi in
combatting national security threats, particularly in the area of counter intelligence and counter terrorism. >> mr. chairman, most of my four years in the leadership of the department both as principal associate deputy attorney general and as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division were focused on those issues, counter terrorism and to some extent also counter espionage. importantly, during that period of time before 2005 or 2006 even, both the counter terrorism section and the counter espionage section were part of the criminal division. so my oversight responsibilities in the criminal division itself and to some extent as principal associate deputy attorney general focused on the criminal division and those sections where of course particularly high priority, counter terrorism and counter espionage.
well over 50% of my time in those four years was focused on these very kinds of issues. >> thank you. now i want to go -- this will probably be my last question for my ten minutes now. and this is in regard to the electronic communications transactions records. your predecessor to fbi director role spoke repeatedly about the need for law enforcement to have the tools it needs to research threats to national security and to have cooperation from electronic communication service providers when doing so. in that regard, please explain to us whether as fbi director you will advocate for any legislative fixes congress can put in place to help the fbi get electronic communication transactions records, especially for national security investigations.
>> there's obviously a tricky balance to be struck in that territory. but it's my experience that access to electronic information is paramount, lawfully pursued. i haven't studied the different legislative ideas out there, but i do know that we're going to have to as a society, both the fbi and the justice department, this committee and others, industry, our foreign partners, we are going to have to find solutions to these problems. because the role of technology is over taking us all. i'm committed to try to work with everyone to try to find a solution. >> thank you. senator feinstein? >> just a couple of quick questions before i get to the substance of my questions. did you discuss mr. comey or his firing with anyone in the white house, the justice department or the fbi? if so, who, when and what was discussed? >> i did not discuss those
topics at all with anyone in the white house. my only discussion on the topic at all was deputy attorney general rosenstein making the observation to me that at the time that i first was contacted about this position by him was that now special counsel mueller had been appointed to deal with that issue and that in effect made for a better landscape for me to consider taking on this position. >> that was it? >> that was it. >> okay. let me go now to the things that we discussed in my office. my understanding is you served as the deputy attorney general's senior advisor when the office of legal counsel issued the so-called torture memos in 2003 and 2003. one of the authors of those memos testified in 2008 before a house judiciary committee on
june 26 th that you were one of the justice department officials that would have received drafts of those memos. in fact, you said he believed that you provided comments on the 2003 olc memo which concluded that interrogation tactics don't qualify as torture unless they're intended to cause the kind of severe pain associated with organ failure or death. what was your role in reviewing or approving that memo or any of the other memos issued by the office of legal counsel regarding the treatment. you should know that there were those of us at that time that were trying to get hold of these memos to look at them. we couldn't -- as a member of the judiciary committee or
member of the intelligence committee, we couldn't even see the memos. so this looms big in my mind. so i'd appreciate it if you could answer the question. >> i recognize and respect how important an issue this is. first let me say my view is that torture is wrong. it's unacceptable. it's illegal and i think it's ineffective. >> good beginning. >> second, both of my predecessors, director comey and director mueller, had a policy which i think is the right policy and i would expect to continue it, that the fbi is going to play no part in the use of any techniques of that sort. third, i would say that when i was assistant attorney general for the criminal division, one of the things that i think we did that i was most proud of was that we investigated and in one particular case i can remember successfully prosecuted a cia
contractor who had gone over board and abused a detainee that he was interrogating. this was not in iraq but it was an afghan detainee. and that was a case that i'm very proud of. >> that was a homicide? >> yes, it was a homicide. >> the case was rackman in salt pit? >> i think it was in the salt pit. i do know it was an afghan detainee. the interrogator's last name was pessaro. my recollection is we prosecuted him in i think the middle district of north carolina is my recollection. he was convicted and sentenced. i think that was not only an important case in its own right but i think it sent an important message of the criminal division's intolerance for that kind of conduct. as to the rest of your question, we talked about this in our
meeting. i can tell you that during my time as principal associate deputy attorney general, to my recollection i never reviewed, much less provided comments on or input on and much less approved any memo from john yu on this topic. i understand he thinks it's possible he might have. i can only tell this committee i have no recollection of that. it's the kind of thing i think i would remember. >> i would think so. >> it may not be surprising because my portfolio as principal associate deputy attorney general was focused on the criminal division, on the fbi, on the us attorney's offices. the office of legal counsel was not part of my portfolio. that was not squarely within my wheel house, which was already pretty full, to be honest. so later as i said, as assistant
attorney general we did provide input on the general meaning of the statute but not as to any particular technique. the reason for that is i wanted to be able to investigate and prosecute cases including cases against people who go beyond the bounds of the law. >> could you speak to your connections to the case at abutgraib prison. that memo discussed the suspected homicide of a detainee and concluded, quote, i am referring this matter to you now concurrent with the release of the final autopsy report, end
quote. so when were you first informed about allegations of detainee abuse at this prison or elsewhere? who informed you and what actions did you take? >> senator, i don't have a clear recollection in my head about when exactly i first learned about the abuse at abu graib in particular. i know we were getting dematerideferrals from the cia. at some point those reforms began to include not just afghanistan but also iraq. we opened any number of investigations in response to those referrals. a lot of those investigations took a while and i think a lot of them may have come to fruition after i left the department in the very beginning of may of 2005. >> so you have no specific
recollection. let me have ask you about civil injunction authority related to terrorism. as you know, there's a relentless and growing isil recruitment effort through social media platforms and recruitment is repeatedly identified in nearly all of the 100-plus criminal indictments brought by federal authorities during the past two years relating to isil. the civil injunction authority as i understand it exists for the attorney general to obtain orders against those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations as well as to shut down websites from distributing software for spying on people. how do you feel about use of this civil injunction? and what commitment to explore
it and possibly use it would you be prepared to make? >> well, senator, i'm not overly familiar with this particular tool in the arsenal that the fbi has. but i would be very interested in learning more about it and seeing how it can be used more effectively. from my experience in combatting terrorism back in the early 2000s, material support legal remedies are particularly important. one of the things that we used to say to people that i feel very strongly about is, if america is counting on people to catch the terrorist with their finger on the switch of a bomb, that's way overly optimistic about the ability. so you need to look at a terrorist plot by looking at the whole continuum of it. we'd far rather catch a terrorist with his hands on a check than his hands on a bomb.
any kind of material support remedy that is available is particularly important to try to prevent attacks as opposed to trying to play catchup after attacks have occurred. >> one last question. will you commit to informing this committee if you witness or learn of any efforts to interfere with the work of special counsel mueller? >> assuming that i can do it legally and appropriately, absolutely. i'm very committed to supporting director mueller in the special counsel investigation in whatever way is appropriate for me to do that. i worked closely with director mueller in my past government service. i view him as the consummate straight shooter and somebody i have enormous respect for and i would be pleased to do what i can to support him in his mission. >> what i'm asking is if you learn about any machinations to tamper with that, that you let this committee know. >> understood.
>> thank you. if you want to say more, i'm happy to hear it. >> senator, i would consult with the appropriate -- any time talking to this committee, i would consult with the appropriate officials to make sure i'm not jeopardizing the investigation or anything like that. but i would consider an effort to tamper with director muell mueller's investigation to be inappropriately and to be dealt with sternly and proepappropria indeed. >> senator hatch. >> welcome to the committee. i couldn't be more pleased than to have you in this position and i'm very grateful you will be willing to take it because you had a very nice life outside of government. frankly, this is going to be an interesting life but i'm not sure it's going to be a nice life. i have a lot of empathy for you and your family. let me begin with the issue of encryption. i've long been a proponent of
strong encryption technology. such technology is essential to protecting consumers' privacy and keeping america's tech sector at the forefront of globalization. i've had conversations with a number of tech leaders such as apple's tim kiccook, just to mention one, on the importance of encryption. i have tremendous respect for former director comey, but in candor this is an issue that i don't think he got quite right. what we need, in my view, is a public/private partnership in which congress, law enforcement and industry stake holders work together to find the path forward. now mr. wray, will you commit to work in a slacollaborative mann on the issue so we can find a solution that is workable for all sides? >> i know this is an issue that
it's been very important to you for a long time and we discussed it in our meeting. as we discussed then, i think this is one of the most difficult issues facing the country. there's a balance obviously that has to be struck between the importance of encryption, which i think we can all respect when there's so many threats to our systems. and the importance of giving law enforcement the tools they lawfully need to keep us all save and so i don't know sitting here today as an outsider and a nominee before this committee what the solution is, but i do know that we have to find a solution and my experience in trying to find solutions is that it's more productive for people to work together than to be pointing fingers blaming each other. that's the approach i've tried to take to almost every problem i've tackled. that's the approach i would want to take here in working with this committee, with the private sector. one very long to having been in the private sector for a little
while, is i think i know how to talk to the private sector. i would work to get the private sector more on board to understand why this issue is so important to keeping us all safe. >> i'd like to turn to the issue of child predators. i recently joined with senator franken to introduce the bipartisan child protection improvements act which would provide access to fbi background checks to youth serving organizations to ensure that child predators are not able to obtain employment with such organizations. now, the bill passed the house of representatives earlier this year and i want to thank the fbi for providing very constructive support and technical assistance on this important bill. will you commit to continue working with congress to ensure that you serving organizations have access to fbi background checks for their employees and volunteers. >> senator, i know this is an important issue. it's one that you raised and
that senator franken also raised. i can commit that it's something i'm very interested in trying to figure out a way to support those efforts and work with both of you and others on the child exploitation and obscenity section was in the criminal division when i over saw it and brought some of the most important cases. i'm keenly aware on a personal level of the threat that predators face to the most vulnerable populations in this country and i want to work with everybody to try to find better solutions. >> thank you. your agency has strongly supported my rapid dna legislation which passed the senate earlier this year in may. current law restricts access to the fbi's combined dna index system to dna records generated in an accredited crime lab. recent develops in rapid dna technology, however, offered a great promise in speeding up the
timetable for dna analysis. using rapid dna technology, a law enforcement officer can know within two hours whether an individual is wanted for an outstanding crime or has the connection to evidence from a crime scene. now, my bill expands access to codus. it will help law enforcement more quickly solve crime and exonerate the innocent. i'd like you to commit if you can to continuing the fbi's longstanding tradition of working with congress to improve the way dna analysis is used in our criminal justice system and to reduce inefficiencies and backlogs in dna sample analysis. will you help us on that? >> senator, i would look very much forward to working with you and others on the committee on this important issue. i'm not up to speed on the latest advances in dna
technology, but even when i served in law enforcement before, it was already clear what a valuable tool it is, both to ensure that the right people are caught and prosecuted but also to make sure that the wrong people aren't unfairly accused. it strikes me as just good sense law enforcement to try to come up with a way to make that tool more ready available and more rapidly available. >> thank you. in 2015 the fbi investigated secretary clinton's unclassified server system and determined that 81 e-mail chains contained classified information ranging from confidential to top secret special access program levels at the time they were sent. as someone who served 20 years in the senate intelligence committee, longer than any other member of the senate has ever served, i have deep respect for the intelligence community and the need to protect and properly handle classified information.
i was very troubled by the fact that secretary clinton was so careless about how she handled classified communications when she was secretary of state. what is your perspective on how the fbi should handle cases in the future when individuals do not properly handle classified documents and information. >> senator, this is an issue that's very important to me. in my prior government service, because the counter espionage section had jurisdiction over those kinds of investigations and they reported up to me, we investigated a number of cases involving unauthorized and inappropriate disclosure of classified information. one of the real eye opening things for me coming into the leadership of the department from having been a line prosecutor was just how much of our sources and methods come from our overseas partners. i just think most americans, rightly, have no idea just how important that is. if we can't protect classified
information, it's not just that information that gets jeopardizjeopardize ed which can lead to risk of lives of intelligence community personnel. even more importantly, it causes our allies to lose confidence in us and their willingness to share information with us. if that dries up, we're in a world of hurt. i think those things need to be treated very severely and investigated very aggressively. >> i'm very concerned about the violent crime trends that we're seeing throughout the united states. according to the fbi's 2015 statistics, violent crimes increased in our country by nearly 4% over the year before and murders increased by nearly 11%. can you explain to us what you will do -- >> senator, as senator nunn
mentioned in his introduction dealing with the scourge of violent crime, particularly gun violence, is a subject i spent a lot of time on in my prior law enforcement service. i think the fbi has a lot on its plate, but it needs to look for the ways that it can contribute. obviously atf and state and local partners are essential to that effort. and i think the approach should be for the fbi to see what it can do where it uniquely provides value. to me that might be things like organized gang activity, ms-13, you know places where the fbi has particular expertise that it can support and supplement and augment the atf and local law enforcement. it's the old saying about the whole being greater than the sum. that's the approach i would take. >> thank you. i want to thank you for being willing to serve and take on
this awesome responsibility. i want to thank you family being able to sacrifice themselves. we know that many times you're going to be away from the family and working pretty doggone hard. i intend to fully support you and i hope everybody in the committee and the senate will do likewise. >> thank you, senator. that means a lot. >> senator leahy. >> thank you. it's good to see you again, mr. wray. thank you for coming by yesterday. welcome back to the committee. senator nunn mentioned griffin bell and i enjoyed our talk about judge bell. now, i wish you were here under different circumstances because
i'm troubled by the abrupt firing of predecessor director comey. the president nor the white house initially misled the public about why director comey was fired. then the president made his motivation very clear in an interview with nbc news. he said he fired director comey because of the russian thing. of course, the russian thing was the fbi's investigation into potential collusion between the kremlin and the president's campaign and administration. now there are multiple investigations about russia and their interference as similar interference we see in other countries by russia. just yesterday, we learned that a number of members of the trump campaign were eager to work and talk with members of the russian
organization even though they're an adversary of ours, about the campaign. i talk about this not so much in history although we need to we w exactly what happened. because we got to make sure it doesn't happen again. i don't care if they're helping a republican or a democrat. no country, especially an enemy like russia, should be able to interfere with our country. now, the fbi's one of the most powerful tools available to the president. and from what we've seen from the white house, they may be expecting your loyalty. as the president did with director comey. now, you told me yesterday there's been no question by anybody in the white house asking you for pledge of loyalty, is that correct? >> that's correct, senator.
my loyalty is to the constitution, to the rule of law, and to the mission of the fbi. and no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point of this process and i sure as heck didn't offer one. >> and i also understand from what you said yesterday you would not give one if asked. >> correct. >> and the reason i ask this, i remember when then-senator jeff sessions asked a question regarding sally yates at her nomination hearing. she said the views the president wants executed are unlawful, should the attorney general, deputy attorney general say no? you served with sally yates and you can imagine and probably not surprised her answer was she'd say no. and she stayed true to her word. of course, as soon as she said no, when she refused to defend president trump's discriminatory muslim ban, she got fired.
now, so i'm going to ask you the same question jeff sessions asked of sally yates, and you know she kept her word and got fired for it. if the president asks you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say? >> first i would try to talk him out of it and if that failed, i would resign. >> thank you. why did the president fire director comey? >> you know, senator, i don't know. i'm not familiar with all of the information the president may or may not have had. so i'm not in a position to speak to that. i do know there's a special counsel investigation underway with my former director director mueller leading that. i think that issue falls within his investigation.
>> of course former director mueller is looking at whether crimie ins took place. what i worry about when the president has said and i quote him, face great pressure because of russia, closed quote, and that pressure was, quote, taken off, closed quote, by firing director comey. does that explanation trouble you? >> well, senator, i really don't know all the circumstances surrounding that statement and the context. i can tell you that during my time at the department working with then-deputy attorney general comey 12 years ago and before that, in all my dealings with jim comey, he was a terrific lawyer, a dedicated public servant, and a wonderful colleague. i haven't been in touch with him in a number of years. >> will you work and actual
pledge to keep the fbi from any political interference or influence? >> absolutely, senator. >> i was a prosecutor the time of j. edgar hoover. i never want to see us go back to that era either, where the fbi director did things we now know were illegal, improper, and done for his own political motivation. and i know senator grassley made some comment about that too. intelligence community, and this has now been public including the fbi, cia, nsa concluded with high confidence that russia intervened in the 2016 election in order to denigrate secretary clinton, help elect donald trump. do you have any doubt that russia interfered with our elections hoping to elect donald trump? >> senator, the only thing i've been able to review on that at the moment is the public form of
the intelligence community's assessment, the summary. so i don't have access to all the classified information. but i will tell you that from what i reviewed, i have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community. >> will you read the classified sections if you're confirm snd. >> definitely. it'd be one of the first things i'd want to see. >> thank you. because i -- you see the actions of russia in europe and other parts around the world trying to expand their influence. you see them wanting to influence other people's elections. the last thing in the world we want them to be able to do is interfere with ours. i don't want any other country to but especially a country that is as adversarial to the interest of the united states as russia. now, during a federal society event on originalism and criminal procedures in 2005, you
discussed the extent to which foreigners were protected by the fourth amendment on american soil. you brought up the case of u.s. versus verdugo in which the supreme court held that the citizen of mexico was incarcerated in the united states was not protected by the fourth amendment because he's not a member of the people. you then said you think that might be a good way of handling undocumented aliens. to what extent do you believe protections apply to undocumented aliens in the united states? >> well, senator, i haven't studied the fourth amendment jurisprudence in a long time. >> you spoke about it. >> at the time my recollection was that i was speaking -- the conference was about originalism. i think the main thrust of my
remarks was about those who criticize originalism in constitutional jurisprudence need to come up with an explanation for what if not originalism, then what. i was troo ii trying to make th there's some logic at looking at originalism in that context. i haven't looked at the remarks of that issue in a long time. >> you think at fbi director, the undocumented aliens of the united states have any protection whatsoever or could an fbi agent just go and break in buildings anywhere they want and search for anything they want? >> well, no, senator. i think we need to be mindful of the civil liberties of all. >> thank you dp. do you agree that water boarding is torture and is illegal? >> yes. >> thank you. that's the same answer director comey gave when i asked him that same question. i've worked with -- for years
with chairman grassley to address the concerns the two of us have related -- there are things we do on a bipartisan basis on this committee. senator grassley and i have been concerned about the fbi's flawed hair and fiber analysis testimony. i asked director comey the question in may, he promised me a follow-up of what are we doing going over the 3,000 cases that were closed because of faulty analyses by the fbi. if those cases come up even as a missing transcript, will you commit to having an agent conduct in-person visits to determine whether documents are necessary to find out what happened? i say this because i remember as a prosecutor using the fbi's hair and fiber analyses and if
we've had people convicted because they were faulty we should know that. >> well, senator, i share your concern about having forensic science done appropriately. cases stand or fall on that. and we can't have innocent people convicted because of flawed science. i'm not familiar with the particular problems that occurred in this particular arena, but it's something i'd want to get briefed on early on and see what other appropriate action might need to be taken. >> thank you. and mr. chairman, i'll have a follow-up question for him partly about the question raised of former mayor giuliani's fl s influence with the fbi in investigations and others. and i'd ask your commitment if you're confirmed to respond to those questions. will you respond to them? >> absolutely. senator, i look forward to being
responsive to the members of this committee in whatever way is appropriate. >> i didn't mean to interrupt his answer, i'm sorry. senator graham? >> thank you. i think you've been an outstanding fbi director. and your words today will matter. america's listening about what is going on in this hearing and you're going to be speaking pretty soon i think as the top cop in the land. are you familiar with a article from politico january 11th, 2017, titled "ukrainian efforts to sabotage trump backfire." donald trump wasn't the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former soviet block country. ukrainian officials tried to help hillary clinton and undermine trump but questioning his fitness for office. they also disseminated documents implicating a top trump aide in
question and say they were only investigating. damaging information on trump and his advisers, a politico investigation found. the ukrainian-american operative who was consulting for the dnc met with officials in washington in an effort to expose ties between trump campaign aide paul manafort and russia according to people with a direct knowledge of the situation. have you ever heard of those allegations before? >> i have not, senator. >> i have no idea if they're true, but would you agree with me if they are true, that is wrong for the ukraine to be involved in our elections? >> yes, senator. i take any -- >> i got you. that's a good answer. >> okay. >> will you look into this? >> i'd be happy to dig into it. >> all right. are you familiar with the e-mail problems we've had with donald jr.? donald trump jr. the last few days? >> i have not, senator. i have heard there is an issue, but -- >> i'm going to read something
to you. >> -- so i missed that. >> this is an e-mail sent june 3rd, 2016, by rod goalstone who is someone connected to the miss universe pageant to donald junior. just called and asked me and contact with something interesting. the crown prosecutor of russia met with his father arias this morning and their meeting offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary in her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. this is a high level. this is sensitive information but is part of russia and is government support for mr. trump helped along by arias and eamon. what do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to eamon about it directly? i can also send this info to your father, but it is ultra
sensitive, so wanted to send to you first. 17 minutes later, donald trump jr. replied, thanks, rob, i appreciate that. i am on the road at the moment but perhaps speak to eamon first. and if it's what you say, i love it. especially later in the summer. could we do a call first thing next week when i'm back? should donald trump jr. have taken that meeting? >> well, senator, i don't -- i'm hearing for the first time your description of it, so i'm not really in a position to speak to it. i gather that -- >> let me ask you this. if i got a call from somebody saying the russian government wants to help lindsey graham get re-elected, they've got dirt on lindsey graham's opponent, should i take that meeting? >> senator, i would think you'd want to consult with good legal advisers before you did that. >> so the answer is, should i
call the fbi? >> i think it would be wise to let -- >> you're going to be the director of the fbi, pal. so here's what i want you to tell every politician. if you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the fbi. >> to the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> all right. so i'll take it we should call you and that's a great answer. now, this is what don junior said saturday before the e-mail came out. if i can find it here. this is his statement. about what i just read to you. it was a short introductory meeting and i asked jared and paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian
children. that was active and popular with american families years ago and was since ended by the russian government. but is not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up. i was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance but was not told the name of the person i would be meeting with beforehand. do you think that's a fair summary of the contact between donald trump jr. and this rod goldstone? >> i do not know -- >> would you agree with me this is very misleading? >> senator, again, i don't have full context to be able to speak to -- >> okay. i want you to look at it and get back with the committee and find out if that was misleading. is russia our friend or our enemy? >> senator, i think russia is a foreign nation we have to deal with warily. >> you think they're an adversary with the united states? >> in some situations, yes. >> do you think in interfering in the elections that's an
adversarial move on their part? >> yes. >> do you believe the russians did it when it came to the hacking into the dnc and podesta's e-mails? do you believe the conclusions? >> as i said to your colleague -- >> do you have any reason to doubt -- >> i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community. >> would that make a good candidate to be an enemy of the united states? >> i think it's an adversarial act as you said before. >> comey. did you see the press conference he gave about the hillary clinton investigation in july of last year? >> not live, but yes. >> would you have done that? >> well, senator, there is an inspector general investigation into comey's conducts -- >> i'm not asking about the investigation. i'm asking about you. would you have done that? >> i can tell you that in my experience as a prosecutor and as head of the criminal division, i understand there to be department policies that governor public comments about
uncharged individuals. i think those policies are there for a reason. i would follow those policies. >> he talked about something that was never charged in a disparaging fashion. do you agree with that? >> that's the way i understood his comments. >> he also agreed he took over the prosecutor's job by saying there's no case here? >> again, there's an inspector general's investigation into his conduct -- >> you would not have done either one of those is what you're telling this community? >> i can't understand a situation i would give a press conference on an uncharged individual. >> thank you. you say mueller is a good guy, right? >> that's my experience, yes. >> and you'll do anything necessary to protect him from being interfered with when it comes to doing his job. >> absolutely. >> do you believe in light of the don junior e-mail and other allegations, that this whole thing about trump campaigni ina
russia is a witch hunt? is that a fair description? >> i can't speak to the base for those comments -- >> i'm asking you as the future fbi director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt? >> i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch hunt. >> thank you. can the president fire director mueller? does he have the authority in the law to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us and answer that question? >> i'd be happy to take a look at it. >> okay. do you realize that you're stepping into the role of the director at fbi in one of the most contentious times in the history of american politics? >> well, as senator nunn said, there have been a lot of contentious times in american politics, but i think this one ranks up there. >> do you understand the challenge that lies ahead for you because institutions in the
eyes of the american people is suffering and the last thing we want is for the fbi to fall out with the american people? >> i fully understand this is not a job for the faint of heart. i can assure this committee i am not faint of heart. >> and i think in that committee i told you that i wanted to be an fbi agent and it's a credit to the fbi they never let me become one. i never actually applied. probably would have been a waste of my time. but i told you that i admire the men and women of the fbi because they're unsung heroes who work morning, noon, and night against terrorism, child pornography, you name it. they're out there doing it. and you're their voice. this is a big honor, do you agree with that? >> yes, senator. in fact, the reason i'm doing this is for those people. during the time when my name was
first released to the media but before i was asked to take on the position, i got calls from all these agents that i used to work with, prosecutors that i used to work with for and against from different administrations and the outpouring of support and encouragement that i got was both humbling and gratifying. and i want to do this for those people and for the victims past and hopefully to prevent victims in the future. >> from my point of view, you're the right guy at the right time. good luck. >> senator durbin. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. wray. you said a few words about mr. comey who you have extensive experience working with in the department of justice. i think you called him a great public servant and colleague. so i'd like to ask you. we're at an unusual moment in american history where mr. comey was characterized by the president of the united states as a nutjob and was fired for the stated reason by the
president because the russian investigation was underway and the president believed it was a cloud on his presidency. mr. comey told us a little bit about his direct dealings with the president of the united states. two things really stood out. which i think may be fairly unique in the history of the united states. he said on one hand that he having been caught alone in the oval office with the president of the united states spoke to the attorney general and said i don't want that to happen again. i want a witness when i'm meeting with the president of the united states. that is an extraordinary statement by the head of the fbi. if you were asked to meet privately with no one else with the president of the united states as director of the fbi, what would be your approach? >> my first step would be to call deputy attorney general rosenstein. there's a policy that applies to contacts between the white house and the department. it goes in both directions. in particular goes to any
contact between -- with respect to a particular case. there obviously are situation where is the fbi director needs to be able to communicate with the president on national security matters, for example. but in my experience, it would be very unusual for there to be any kind of one-on-one meeting between the fbi -- any fbi director and any president. >> unusual, but it happened. and it happened to mr. comey. he decided he was uncomfortable being in the oval office alone with the president. so as unusual as it may be, would you meet in the oval office with the president with no one else present? >> i think it would dependent on the circumstances, senator. i think it would be highly unlikely, but i think there could -- i could imagine a situation where there'd be some national security matter where they might call for it. but i would, again, my preference and presumption would be that there should be people from the department working through the office of the deputy
attorney general so that it's not a one-on-one meeting. i think the relationship between any fbi director and any president needs to be a professional one, not a social one. and there certainly shouldn't be any discussion between one-on-one discussions between the fbi director and any president about how to conduct particular investigations or cases. >> the second thing which i think is extraordinary and i don't know if there's any precedent since the creation of the fbi was mr. comey's decision after meeting with the president and discussions with the president to create a contemporaneous written record. you know as an attorney with e the -- tell me your reaction. do you feel bound or at least do you feel the recommendation from comey's action to create contemporary written records of your conversations with the president if you become director of the fbi? >> well, senator, i think at a minimum i would take the
approach i always do to talking to people which is to try to listen very carefully to what i'm hearing in the conversation. and there could be times i would think that the appropriate next step is for me to memorialize that. but i would evaluate that on a case-by-case basis. >> you can correct me because i think you have much more experience in this area, your memory of a conversation and a written contemporaneous report carry different evidentiary value and weight in a courtroom, is that not true? >> that's absolutely true. >> so i don't want to put words in your mouth, but you're saying under some circumstances, conversations with the president of the united states you feel should be memorialized in a contemporaneous written report. >> certainly there would be situations it would be appropriate for me to memorialize a conversation just like there would be with other people. if they were important conversations, i thought it made sense. >> i'm not going to let you off that easy. >> okay. >> of course that is your
responsibility as director but we're dealing with a situation where a man you respected was fired, called a nutjob, and the president said to russian visitors we're putting an end to this investigation. this is not an ordinary course of business for the federal bureau of investigation. this is the highest elected official in the united states of america trying to stop an investigation by putting jim comey out of business. i think it's a little different than the routine requirements of the office. do you? well, certainly i would distinguish if this is what you're driving at, the difference between a routine conversation and significant conversation. those in the latter category i would think it would behoove me to make sure there's an appropriate record of that. >> we talked a lot about russia in this hearing. and the threat to the united states. you've read the unclassified version of their attempt to have a cyber attack on the united states election campaign.
now we have a statement from the president of the united states suggesting, quote, putin and i discussed forming a cyber security unit so that many would be regarded and safe. so now we've all started with the premise that russia was involved in trying to change our election. we all understand that russia has been a bad actor around the world in many places. and now we have the president saying we're going to get together with them on the issue of cyber security. so if it is proposed to you by the administration to create this cyber security unit and to share information with the russians about the united states' capabilities and vulnerabilities when it comes to cyber security wh, what is your reaction? >> my reaction is i need to learn more about the current state of our cyber security defenses and our threats in talking to the career intelligence community professionals to be able to evaluate that responsibly.
but i wouldn't want to do anything that if i got that kind of advice and input suggested was putting us at greater risk as opposed to greater protection. >> i would think there would be red flags flying in every direction. i guess that's a bad analogy with russia. but i think there should be a cautionary feeling about any suggestion that we give to them information about our cyber capabilities and security. wouldn't that be your first reaction? >> senator, my reaction is that any threat, any effort to interfere with our election systems is one whether it's from a state actor from russia or a non-state actor, it's something to be taken very seriously. and i would think it would be wise for all of us to proceed with great caution in the wake of that information. >> i think i'd go further, but i'll leave that question. you and i had a good conversation yesterday about president george w. bush's reaction after 9/11 when it came to the muslim-american population of the united states.
i would appreciate it if you would recount your impression of the president's conduct after 9/11 when it came to this topic and your own personal feelings about the patriotism of muslim-americans and the role they play in keeping america safe. >> thank you, senator. it is something we talked about yesterday. and first off, let me say i think the fbi director needs to be an fbi director for all americans. second, the conversation you're referring to, one of the things i remember being struck by by president bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when the dust had barely settled was that he took great pains to speak -- i can't remember if he spoke at a mosque or what, but i remember he made a special point of speaking out and saying that this was not a situation where we in the war on terror were at war with muslim-americans. he made an outreach to the
community at a time when it would not have been by any measure politically expedient to do that. and i remember thinking at the time that that was a remarkably courageous and noble gesture on his part. and i admired him for doing that. especially at that time in that environment. >> so i said to you it is my impression meeting with muslim-americans in my state, families and individuals, they are in the same state of mind today as japanese-americans were during world war ii when many were headed to internment camps for security purposes. what can you say on the record now if you were chosen at director of the fbi about your relationship working with patriotic, god fearing, lawful muslim-americans in our nation? >> senator, i would say sort of what i was saying just a minute ago which is i think the fbi director and the fbi needs to be -- the fbi and the director for all americans including
muslim-americans. and my experience has been that some of the best leads we ever got were from members of that community, from muslim-americans. i remember having conversations with that with among others, u.s. attorney from your state. you know, pat fitzgerald, a friend of mine. and so while certainly we do face threats from certain radical ideologies when turned to violence, it is also true that those americans just like all americans are people that we need to get information from to help protect the homeland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. wray. >> mr. wray, congratulations to you and your family on this nomination. i appreciate your willingness to come back into public service at a time when i think the nation's confidence in its public institutions has been shaken.
and i think it's very important to have somebody of your character and background and experience serve as the next fbi director because i think public confidence in the fbi has been shaken over recent events. i asked you when we met in my office rosenstein memo that he wrote. and i understand there's inspector general investigation. i don't want to ask you specifically about the facts of that. but you have, i think, in response to senator graham suggested, that you never would see it appropriate to hold a press conference about a criminal investigation. and while declining to recommend prosecution disclose derogatory information about the target of that investigation. is that correct? >> senator, as we discussed when we met, while i don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on director comey's decision, i don't know what information he had or what all
went into his decision. i can tell you that in my experience, both as a line prosecutor and head of the criminal division, and now as a lawyer in private practice with the special appreciation for why some of those rules and policies are in effect, that i can't think of a time when anybody from the department, much less the fbi director, gave a press conference providing derogatory information about an individual. i'm not an encyclopedia of knowledge about history. >> reporting to the deputy attorney general. isn't that correct? >> that's correct. >> and the fbi can't prosecute cases on its own, can it? >> that's also correct. >> and so the fbi is the premiere law enforcement agency in the world, is an investigatory body and not a prosecutorial body. correct? >> that's correct. >> and that role is reserved exclusively to the attorney general and the department of justice.
correct? >> right. >> so, if an fbi director believes an attorney general has a conflict of interest such that they don't trust the department of justice to conduct its business impartially, what is an fbi director or anybody else supposed to do? i mean, what is the part of the organization of the department of justice that would provide some recourse under those circumstances? in other words, is a special counsel the office that would be best suited to take over those investigations and decide whether a prosecution were, indeed, appropriate? >> well, if there was a special counsel in place, then that would be the natural place to bring those concerns to. i think, you know, the department has a chain of command. so if there were conflicts at
the higher levels, you could work your way down. there's also the inspector general of the department of justice that, under certain circumstances, would be an appropriate outlet. i think you have to evaluate each situation based on the facts and circumstances and look at the rules. >> director comey said that when attorney general loretta lynch had a meeting on the tarmac at the airport with president clinton, knowing that mrs. clinton was the subject of an ongoing investigation, that for him that was the capper, as he put it. and he decided not to refer the matter to the deputy attorney general or to the attorney general but rather to take it upon himself to say that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute a case like that under the circumstances. the reason i'm asking this -- and i understand your hesitation about talking about a matter that's under investigation by the inspector general, but in mr. rosenstein's memo, he lays
out his opinion that over the last year the fbi's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage and has affected the entire department of justice. you read the memo, i trust. as a result he said the fbi is unlikely to regain public and congre congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them i want to be respectful of the line you're trying to draw here but i need to know -- and i think the committee needs to know whether you understand the gravity of the mistakes made by the previous director and you pledge never to repeat them. >> senator, as we discussed when we met, deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo, which i did read, the way he describes the department's policies and practices is consistent with my
understanding of those policies and practices and the way i would intend to approach those policies and practices. it's not -- never been my practice to blur the line between fbi investigator and department of justice prosecutor. it's never been my practice to speak publicly as a prosecutor or as a department official about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are important. i think they're in place for a reason. and i would expect to comply with them. >> my statements to director comey on his appearance in front of this committee on several occasions is, i believe you're a good man who has been dealt a difficult hand. and he certainly was. but even good people make mistakes. and my view is mr. rosenstein lays out a pretty compelling rationale why director comey refused to recognize those mistakes and why public
confidence could not be restored to the department of justice or the fbi until a director would acknowledge those and pledge not to repeat them. so, that's the purpose of my questions. and thank you for your answer. so why is it important to have separation between the fbi and the department of justice when it comes to the decision to prosecute a case? >> well, it's been a system that's been in place since time and memorial, as near as i can tell. it's the same kind of system that occurs in state and local law enforcement. the difference between the police and the district attorneys's office, et cetera. >> is it a check on potential abuse of power? >> i do think, right. the theory is that prosecutors can evaluate the constitutional protections, compliance with the rules of evidence, exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is very important. and i think if you collapse
prosecutor and investigator into one role, you know, it's just one step away from having judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one body. >> i couldn't agree more. over the fourth of july, i had a chance to read a great book. if you haven't had a chance to read it at some time in your leisure time, which you won't have much of, i recommend it. hell hound on its trail. i don't know if you read about that j. edgar hoover and martin luther king assassination, and the manhunt that the fbi conducted following that terrible and trangic event. but pretty much lays out the case that j. edgar hoover, while he was responsible for modernizing the fbi and making sure that it was equipped to do the job that it has continued to do to this day in an extraordinary fashion, that at the same time that he had so much power that people were worried about his unchecked potential abuse on power. so i would just submit that it is important to have that
separation of powers and that check on the fbi. and, as you point out, the independent prosecutorial discretion and judgment for the department of justice. and i think that was a mistake that director comey, albeit a good man, made and justified his termination. on the minute or so i have left, let me ask you about project safe neighborhood. the reason i'm so interested in this, when i was attorney general in texas, we tried to learn from the richmond u.s. attorney and their project exile focusing on gun crime. to my mind, it was one of the most innovative and successful ways to discourage people from using guns or carrying guns, particularly convicted felons and people under protected orders and the like, using the power of the federal law so that these would not be plea
bargained away, which they frequently are under the state system. but with your experience in project safe neighborhood, do you believe that that enhanced role for the federal law enforcement authorities to go after violent and repeat gun offenders is warranted? >> i do think it's a very important part of that effort. i prosecuted as a line prosecutor quite a number of gun trafficking cases and then, of course, as you mentioned, project safe neighborhoods. i think the model of having coordination between federal, state and local and figuring out which cases can be done more effectively federally is a powerful deterrent effect on gun criminals throughout the country. so, i think that was a very effective program and a model that we ought to be looking at going forward. the fbi's role more limited into atf, i think, in some ways would play a lot more in gun issues.
the fbi has a more important role to play and would be in need of a significant role at the table. >> i'm delighted you're here and wish you well. i would like to ask a question for the record that you provide the committee with a complete description of what you know and how it is you came to be selected, if you could lay that out. we had a similar question and answer from judge gorsuch. and i think in this case it would be helpful. let me ask you a specific question to that here. during the course of coming to this table today and being nominated, you mentioned that you will owe your duty of loyalty only to the constitution and the rule of law. has anybody asked you otherwise?
>> no, senator, no one has asked me for any loyalty oath. and i wouldn't offer one. my loyalty is to the constitution, the rule of law and the mission of the fbi. >> you kind of answered the question, when should the fbi director unilaterally take over the role of attorney general of the united states? and i read your answer to be nev never. but let's say you're presented in a situation in which you don't have confidence in the attorney general in a particular matter because of a conflict of interest, perception issues, whatever reason it is that you have lost confidence in the attorney general on that matter. what, then, if you're not going to unilaterally take over the role of attorney general and hold your own press conferences and make your announcements as if you were the attorney general, what would plan b be? who do you go to, the attorney general anyway, even though you lost confidence?
do you try to work something out? what would be the proper way to face that problem in the department of justice? >> senator, as you know from your own time as u.s. attorney, i think the deputy attorney general is the proper place to go in that scenario. >> good answer. i agree with you. >> derogatory investigation is also never. but you went on to say that the protocol against disclosing derogatory information is there for a reason. could you state the reason? >> the reason, senator, is that if the department has negative information to share about somebody, then the proper way for it to manifest that is through charges because then the person who is accused has an attorney to defend themselves against those charges and it
will be resolved by a jury or judge if it's a beverage trial. there's a place for the accused to vindicate or fail to vindicate the charges against them. uncharged conduct, the old saying, where do i go to get my reputation back? >> it's a corolarry of the rule that the fbi does not disclose derogatory investigative information about an uncharged subject that even when a subject has been charged, you limit yourself to the conduct that is charged in the indictment or information, in the charging documents or in subsequent court filings. correct? >> right. exactly. trying to say within the four corners. >> even when you have a charge, subject is still not open season with derogatory investigative information. >> if we have derogatory information to share it should be manifested in a charging
document of some sort. >> great. thank you. i may be going over replowed ground but want to make sure i get this right. there was the, in my view, infamous 2002 torture memo that gave the department's approval to waterboarding. that memo omitted a number of things, fifth circuit decision upholding a conviction by the department of justice of a texas sheriff for waterboarding criminal suspects. pretty big thing to overlook in a legal memo, in my opinion. it overlooked the court-martial of u.s. for waterboarding filipinos. you would think an office of legal counsel would be able to figure that out and know that the united states had this history. and, third, it overlooked the
military tribunals that prosecuted japanese soldiers for the war crime of waterboarding u.s. prisoners. so, to me, that memo was a horrifying low point in the legal scholarship of the department of justice. your name came up in testimony in congress with respect to a 2003 memo. could you just let me know what role you had in signing off on any of the olc torture memos and what you knew about them? i know a lot of people were cut out of them. that's part of the problem with the process. what was your role with respect to the memos out of olc on waterboarding. >> so, senator, i have no recollection. and, as i said to senator feinstein, i'm sure i would recall of ever reviewing, much less providing input on, comments on, blessing,
approving, anything of that sort any memo from john yew on this topic. later, in 2004, when i was assistant attorney general, the criminal division did have a fairly surgeryical role, which was not, underline the word not but merely commenting on a public, general interpretation memo by dan levin about what the statute -- statutory standard means and that opinion, as you know, was rescinding prior interpretations that had occurred and again that i had not seen. i did not think it was appropriate for the criminal division to be playing any role in weighing in on particular interrogation techniques because i think the criminal division's role is -- and we showed it through investigations we brought -- to be investigating
and prosecuting cases where people go too far in interrogation, not to be providing legal advice. >> united states versus lee, the case out of the fifth circuit where texas sheriff was convicted of federal crimes for doing exactly that. all right. well, i'll follow up for the record with what your assessment. john yew, you mentioned the name. there's no point. i would like to get on to a couple of other things. famous confrontation between the department of swrus and the bush white house over the warrantless wiretapping program in 2004. acting attorney general comey and director mueller both had prominent roles in that. you were in the department at the time. there was a group of people who indicated that they -- if it was necessary to do resignations that they would be a part of the group that would resign if the department's views were not met by the white house. were you in that group? and do you have any
recollections of exactly what took place? any episode in which you made that clear? >> yes, i was one of the people who said he would resign. i was not read into the program at the time. so, my recollection is that i had a conversation with then acting attorney general comey, who shared with me not the classified contents of the program but that there was an ongoing dispute about a particular program that was constitutional and legal in nature. and he explained to me some of the people who were read into the program, who all felt the same way he did and their willingness to resign. and knowing those people, having worked side by side with those people and knowing these were hardly shrinking violets in the war on terror, there was no hesitation in my mind as to where i stood. and i stood with them. and i said i want you to let me know if you guys get to the
point where you think you have to resign because i'll resign with you. >> last question. congress has oversight responsibility over the fbi. congress also has an obligation to bet out of the fbi criminal investigations for very good reason. yet in our oversight responsibility it's important to make sure that cases aren't being tanked for whatever reason. and so i'm interested in what you think the appropriate questions are for members of congress for investigation. is it appropriate to ask if agents were ever assigned to a matter? if so, how many without getting into the details? is it appropriate to ask if any investigative work was done, any documents obtained, subpoenas issued? is it appropriate to consider whether the department's process for following a particular matter like a matter involving a public official, for instance,
has special base touching that has to happen at various places, whether that actually took place? is it legitimate for congress to look at the process of a criminal investigation without going into the substantive evidence to assure itself that a good job has, in fact, been done, that an adequate job has, in fact, been done as in the case of the learner investigation, where quite a lot was disclosed about what, in fact, had been done? >> senator, i do think that the committee has a very important oversight role that needs to be respected. that information doesn't jeopardize those. there are ways to work through some of those issues. the particular examples you gave, i would have to think through each one. >> let's make that a question for the record. my time has expired. i wish you well.
>> thank you. >> mr. chairman? >> thank you, mr. wray. thank you to your family and to your willingness to serve again. sir, there's a crisis of public trust in this country, obviously. this institution has about a 12% approval rating over the last four decades we've gone from a net average of 50% public support from most of our institutions to about 30. if you're confirmed, you'll have an important responsibility to help rebuild public trust in the bureau. i want to ask you a series of questions about that. but to begin with, why do you think the fbi director has a ten-year term? >> i think the fbi director has a ten-year term because there is a judgment made that the role of the fbi and the role of the fbi director needs to be one that is independent of partisan politics. in other words, ten-year term specifically contemplates that there could and almost inevitably would be changes in the administration during the course of the tenure. and unlike other presidential
appointees, the theory is, i think rightly, that the fbi has both a criminal law enforcement and intelligence role that sort of transcends political policy positions and needs to be kind of kept apart and above from that, and to endure through changes in the administration. >> so, what kinds of conditions would it make sense for an fbi director to be fired under? >> well, if an fbi director engaged in misconduct, certainly that would be a situation with fbi director. nobody is above the rule of law. fbi director who doesn't comply with the law should be treated just like anybody else. >> when you unpack this concept of independence, it's critically important that the bureau and its law enforcement functions and its investigative functions not be politicized. yet we have three branches of government. so, ultimately, the legislative and executive branches, the two
that are the most relevant at this moment are accountable to the people. there is a boss of the fbi director. it's not supposed to be direct political accountability. how do you conceive, if you're confirmed, who your boss is when you're the fbi director? >> senator, it's the right question, of course. it is true that the president is the head of the executive branch and the attorney general is the head of the justice department. and the fbi is both part of the justice department and part of the executive branch. i think the independence -- when we talk about independence of the fbi, what we're really talking about is not structural or organizational independence but independence of process. to me, the fbi needs to be able to follow the facts and follow the law wherever and to whomever they lead. it's a process question about how they go about investigating. that would be my commitment if i was fbi director. and that's a different kind of independence than a chart kind
of independence. >> can you state again -- you said it here. it's obvious from your time in the justice department in the mid 2000s. and you've said here today you can imagine circumstances where you would resign. i think it's critically important when this hearing started and you stood there and put up your right hand and all the camera clicks put on, people know that oaths matter. when you're taking an oath ultimately you're saying it's the constitution that you serve and that the legislature passes laws, the executive branch executes them but the bureau's role in the execution of those laws is not to be a politicized or political function. i think the american people need to hear you clearly define the circumstances under which you would resign. can you help us understand, when you're restoring public trust in the bureau, how do you understand if somebody is trying to politicize the work and the decisions that you're supposed to make as director of the bureau? >> first, senator, i would say that former attorney general griffin bell, whose name has come up several times already today, one of the first things
he taught all of us about public service positions, especially one like this, is that you can't do a job like this without being prepared to either quit or be fired at a moment's notice if you're asked to do something or confronted with something that is either illegal, unconstitutional or even morally repugnant. you have to be able to stand firm to your principles. i've heard many people describe me as understated and low key. my kids would describe me more as just boring. >> there's some head nodding in row one. >> exactly. i don't want to look back. no one should misstate my low-key demeanor as a lack of resolve, as some kind of willingness to compromise on principle. because anybody who does would be making a very grave mistake. now, my commitment is to the rule of law, to the
constitution, to follow the facts wherever they may lead and there isn't a person on this planet whose lobbying or influence could convince me to just drop or abandon a properly predicated and meritious investigation. >> prosecutorial decision making, i would like to tease out a bit more of that. can you help the american people understand where the bureau's responsibilities end and the criminal division or the deputy general's office or main justice responsibilities kick in, in decision making? and how does that work on cases that are below the purview of the director on a day-by-day basis and in cases where the director is directly involved? what's the line between investigation and prosecution? >> well, i think the agents, whether you do it at a line agent level, like when i was a line prosecutor, or at a mid-level supervisor level or
upper management level, the basic construct is the same. the fbi is doing the investigating, the fact finding. the accumulation of whether or not there's sufficient evidence of a crime to recommend bringing a prosecution against somebody. but the decision, the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is made by the prosecutors who are trained as lawyers, who are mindful of department's policies and procedures about charging decisions. in my experience, it's less of a line and more of -- in the best practical examples, there's a partnership between the agents and the prosecutors, working together, both in the investigation stage, where even though the fbi has the lead, prosecutors can often be very effective in participating in the investigation. and then the best agents i ever worked with didn't just hand it off to the prosecutor at trial and say good-bye, even though
there was a handoff and assumption of greater responsibility by the prosecutor at trial, the best agents i worked with sat side by side with me at counscil table and w tried the cases. there is a shift of responsibility in the system but again it's a team effort. that's the way it should be approached. >> there are not limitless resources. at some level you, as the director, will have to make decisions about counterterrorism investigations versus cyber investigations versus violent crime investigations, et cetera, lots and lots of really important missions that the bureau has. when you're making those prioritization decisions when would it be appropriate and when would it be inappropriate for main justice and beyond? particularly the white house, to be providing direction and fbi priorities and mine share and
budget investments? >> i don't think the white house should be playing a role in prosecutorial decisions, period. from a programmatic perspective which gets reflected in things like the budget that's submitted to congress, more effort can be focused on particular type of cases, you know. there could be a period where we focus more on corporate fraud. there could be a period where we focus resources on gun crime. so there is an effect on the scarcity of resources and the ability to prioritize certain investigations. in that sense. and i think that's a process that occurs with input from law enforcement and the fbi. with input from the department. and at the end of the day, there is a president's budget that gets submitted to congress for that process. >> i think i hear you offering a particular versus a general
detind distincti distinction. but it's never appropriate for the white house to be providing or political officials to be providing specific direction about specific cases that you're investigating? >> that's my view. >> we're nearly at time. i'm going to stay for a couple more hours for whatever extra rounds we have and i want to drill in to cyber more deeply there. first, one specific connection to your last line of questioning. do you believe that the russians were involved in trying to influence the 2016 election? >> well, senator, as i said before, all i've seen is the public intelligence community assessment. but i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment. i haven't seen all the rest of the information but, what i've seen, i have no reason to doubt it. >> for those of us who read intelligence on a daily or near daily basis, this is undisputable. in 2018 and 2020, they're going to be back. and the main tool that those who want to destroy american
institutions have is not by creating new problems but by trying to exploit and exacerbate existing problems. and american public distrust is one of the most valuable targets the russians have to try to divide us against ourselves. and you're being considered to lead an agency that's going to have to play a front-line role in restoring that public trust. you've got a big and high calling. many of uss are grateful at your willingness to serve. i'll reserve my questions for the next round. >> before they get involved in our '18 and '20 election, they're going to be involved in the elections in germany. before i go to senator chloe batcher, the letter was signed by officials across the political spectrum, including a
number who worked in the obama administration. they wrote that mr. wray has, quote, the judgment, integrity and commandment to the rule of law to be an excellent fbi director. and we also support from mr. wray's former boss larry thompson who served as deputy attorney general bush administration. he wrote that mr. wray's, quote, dedication to public service and our great country is deep, admirable and unparalleled. and he praised mr. wray as a strong -- quote/unquote -- strong independent official. these records will be included without objection. senator klobuhar. >> thank you very much. mr. wray, it is good to see your wife helen there and your kids as well. our daughters are friends. and i learned from nonfbi
sources that your daughter flew in on a red eye tonight and arrived at 4:30 a.m. and the fact she's kept her eyes open through this entire hearing is a testament to her devotion to her dad. on a more serious matter, i know you to be a decent person, a good and devoted dad. i think that's a pretty good start here. i thank you for your answers, particularly the recent discussion you had with senator sa sasse. and the answers you've given the other senators. i thought your opening statement reflected the fact you see the gravity of this moment in time when you're coming in to lead an agency and be dominated to lead an agency of people who put themselves on the front line every day. without fear or favor. we owe it to them. we also owe it to this country
to bring back the trust that senator sasse has talked about in terms of the -- this government in washington. so my first question is when you ran the criminal division in the justice department, did you ever receive request from the president or other high-ranking officials to just let a case go? >> no. >> and i think you answered one of my colleagues, if the president asked you to do that, i think you said you would try to talk them out of it. and if a president would not rescind that request, you would resign, is that right? >> i would take all appropriate action, which would include potentially having to resign, yes. >> when i was a prosecutor for eight years, i would sometimes get comments from people, oh, that case, don't do anything about that. whether it be at a dinner or someone calling my office and i had a process where i would tell my deputy i would most likely not tell the prosecutor working
on the case, i had 400 people. i would tell them this cannot at all influence what you're doing. i think this happens not just to the fbi director but it happens to people underneath you. so that's why i appreciated your answer about the process. you have to have processes in place. because it's not just the fbi director that get those calls. do you want to respond to that? >> yes, senator, thank you. i think you said it very well. to me, process is so important. and the reason process is so important is because people need to have confidence in the outcome. if there is a decision to charge somebody, people need to have confidence that the process that led to that was fair, impartial and consistent with the law. likewise, if there's a decision to close an investigation without charges, people need to have confidence that if there was something there, the process would have found it. so process is terribly important. and i think the tone needs to be
set at the top. i will say that having worked with lots of fbi agent, the thing that is distinctive about all of them is that they will follow the facts and the law wherever it takes them. and sometimes people don't like it. but that's what makes it such a beautiful thing to behold if you're a prosecutor. >> right. how about your view of working with local law enforcement? we have very good group in minnesota. our fbi there. they stepped in. special agent in charge stepped in when we had the stabbing of the shopping mall this last fall. worked very well with ourological law enforcement and our chief. do you want to briefly comment on your views s on working wit law enforcement? >> i think state and local law enforcement is hugely important. especially because there's so much on the fbi's plate right now that there needs to be partnership between the fbi and other federal law enforcement agencies and the state and locals and sort of a force
multiplier way. there's all kinds of support that fbi can provide to law enforcement, whether it's partnering on investigations, training. the national academy is a great thing that, you know, when i talk to people in state and local law enforcement, they consistently praise. i'm gratified by the support that has come in over the last several days from lots of state and local law enforcement organizations and i think that's just a terribly important relationship. because the reality is the threats we face are way too many for one agency, much less the fbi to do all by itself. >> yes, i think director comey thought that way as well and i have respect for how he worked with local law enforcement. i appreciated your words about him. from time to time, there have been proposals to split up the fbi's criminal and national security missions and remove matters like counterterrorism, counterespionage, from the fbi's jurisdiction to kind of spin them off. some have even advocated the creation of an american version
of the way the brits handle this. and when this was discussed in the early 2000s and fbi director mueller rejected it. he said it would be a step backward. do you agree with his assessment about this type of proposal? >> senator, i remember being fairly actively involved in that issue back in the early 2000s. working with people at the fbi. i thought it was a terrible idea then. and it's hard for me to imagine circumstances have changed that would make me think it's a good idea now. i think the one thing we learn from 9/11 is about the danger of walls. and the idea of now splitting things up and creating new walls strikes me as just not the right way to go about it. and my limited understanding in 2017 is that in the time that has passed since i left law enforcement, that other foreign agencies have started moving more in the direction that we
have. i have great respect for our colleagues in the uk and their system. but i don't think that's the right model for us. >> thank you. election infrastructure. senator sasse raised this a bit. when you look at what happened in this last election. what may happen going forward. one of the jobs of the fbi is to coordinate with the election assistance commission. it's to follow up on cyberattacks. and tell me that you'll make this a priority moving forward and help us to prepare as we go into this next election. >> senator, i think the integrity of our elections has to be a very, very top priority. it's the core of who we are as a country. whether it's a nation state or a nonstate actor needs to be taken very, very seriously and the fbi has a huge role in that. >> broader fashion, russia has vast criminal networks that the kremlin uses to sow instability. when senator graham and i were with senator mccain at the end of last year, we heard about
this in the baltic, ukraine and georgia. and a lot of times they're using shell companies as are other entities. half of all home, in the u.s. worth at least $5 million are now purchased using shell companies. would you support efforts by the department to use its existing authority to use more transparency in luxury real estate transactions? we're trying to figure out where the money is going and how you follow the money. i think it was you that said at the beginning that you're more likely to find a terrorist not with his finger on a bomb but his hands on a check. >> senator, i'm not familiar with the particular program you described. i can tell you i strongly agree that following the money is, to me, law enforcement 101. whether it's for organized gains or drug trafficking or terrorism, that none of those things happen without money. and following the money and
working closely with the treasury department i think is an uncommonly effective strategy to use. >> thank you. a few other matters. over the past year, we've seen a staggering rise in hate crimes. in our state, we've had threats against the muslim community, the jewish community. how would you approach this issue as fbi director? >> well, senator, i think crimes based on bigotry or prejudice can't be tolerated. i think the fbi has an important role in being an aggressive investigator there. one of the most moving cases to me as a line prosecutor was a different kind of hate crime with a serial church arsonist who went all over the country burning down churches and ultimately one of the churches he burned killed a voluntary firefighter. and i think i mentioned maybe to senator franken that, you know, meeting with the mother of the dead firefighter and the roughly 7-year-old daughter of the dead firefighter is a memory that i
will take with me forever. so i have sort of a personal appreciation for the importance of prosecuting those crimes. >> very good. if we have a second, i want to ask you about the personal work you've done with huge trafficking, which is one of my top priorities. but i did have one other question on terrorists online recruiting. we've had a number of instances of that in minnesota and our former u.s. attorney andy lugar and before that todd jones worked extensively with the fbi on this issue. i've met with the fbi in minnesota on this issue. they've showed me some of the internet targeting that's really designed to focus on people in our state because of the major somali population that we're so proud of in minnesota. and could you elaborate on this threat and what you believe the fbi should be doing to counterthese types of online recruiting efforts that are going on around the country? >> well, senator, i think i need to get briefed up on the fbi's efforts in that area, especially
the developments and technology. but my basic view is similar to my answer to senator feinstein. which was that we have to get earlier in the continuum to prevent plots. and that is recruitment that is logistical planning, that is fund-raising. to your question about financing. there's a whole range of things that terrorist organizations do early on in the -- plots don't happen overnight. they take time to germinate. we need to be in a position where we find them early and stop them early. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> before i turn to senator tillis, i'd like to give you an update on the schedule. part of this is to give our nominee some time for a break. three more senators will ask questions. and then that ten-minute break will come. i'm going to be leaving for votes. but i'll be back after that.
senator sasse will gavel in the committee after we recess for the nominee to take a break. so that will be around 12:40, 12:45. so you know that even though the vote takes a long time, we'll continue here. and then senator tillis, you're up next. i'm going to step out for my usual 12:00 news conference with iowa press back in iowa. so i'll be back in ten minutes. >> mr. chairman, can i have some clarification? what time are we breaking? >> 12:30, but you'll be asking questions at that time, so you will be the one that will recess the committee. >> okay. >> for the vote. >> when is our vote? >> what? 12:30. >> 12:30. >> yeah. but you may be just finishing your questions about that time and then you'll go vote and then senator sasse is already over there, he'll come back and then hopefully we'll be able to -- i'll be back before that
happens, before he gets done or somebody else will take over. so democrats should plan on -- >> we are. >> okay. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator tillis. go ahead. >> thank you. tripp and caroline, your dad's doing a great job. and actually i really appreciate the way the committee is going. in total, you and i had an opportunity to spend 30 minutes together yesterday. you answered a lot of my questions. so i'm not going to repeat them here. you answered them sat tis fact raly. one thing i think is important to emphasize. i have a law enforcement advisory committee that i established when i became senator. i meet with people down in the state on a frequent basis. one of the things i want to amplify that senator clobuchar said was working with the stalo
agencies. i'm kind of curious to see your own view of it is what's foundational to making those work are the equitable sharing programings that provide these local agencies with resources as a result of seizures in some cases. do you think that's an effective program that should remain in place? >> i've heard nothing but good things about those things. i'm not an expert on that. but certainly the ability for federal law enforcement to provide all manner of support, whether it's partnering on investigations, training, technical support, grants. there's lots of things that federal government can do to, again, as i said before, have the state and local law enforcement to protect us all. >> the support for the program has ebbed and flowed. at one point, it quiesed for a
while and really caused did i russians. maybe in a handful of cases nationwide. maybe one instance in my state. i think we should look at that. there are misconceptions about how the program's run. whether or not there were any abuses of it. if those are true, we need to work on that. i think threatening or sending uncertainty out there could have a chilling effect on investments and law enforcement will make in anticipation of some of those resources that will better work with the agency. can we talk a little bit about going to section 215-702 and the importance you believe it has for the investigative process. >> yes, senator. the -- of course it's been years since i dealt with fisa. which i did, you know, quite a bit in my past tour of duty in government service. 702 itself was of course passed after i had left government.
but from everything i've heard from the intelligence community, just like i said earlier, that i don't have any reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment of the efforts by russia to interfere with our election, so, too, i have no reason to doubt what i hear in the intelligence community's assessment about the importance of section 702 as a vital tool in our efforts to protect america. i look forward to learning more about that tool. and about how it can be strengthened, enhanced and used effectively and appropriately. but everything i've heard suggest to me that's a tool that needs to be high priority for the country, to make sure it gets renewed appropriately. >> i think it would be very important, again, as we discuss it and we debate maybe some safety measures to make sure it's not abused. most of them are already in place. i think it's very important. probably a little bit of time
with the director of national intelligence who before the senate armed services committee said that people will die if we go dark. that's a pretty profound statement from a high-ranking official. and i think we need to just look ahead and make sure we have to preserve those kinds of tools for the agency and other intelligence agencies. i guess the only other question that i have, i'm going to yield back some of my time. i apologize i won't be here for the next round because i'll be presiding. unless senator sasse would like to preside. i know how much you like that. >> i'll pass, thanks. >> i just want to go back and again echo. you've been very direct in answer to senator sasse's questions and other questions about russian meddling. i don't think there's anybody in the congress who would doubt that russia meddles in elections. they have meddled in elections for a very long time. the emergence of the cyber
domain has enhanced their ability to do it and maybe on a broader basis. assuming that, beyond what's already under investigation, do you have any sense of what more that you could conceive you all may proceed with? >> well, senator, i think there's more that i don't know yet than that i do. as an outsider sitting before this committee. so i look forward to making it a high priority. i will say that in addition to providing all appropriate support to former director mueller's special council investigation, there is of course also a counterintelligence function that the fbi has to play. and i'm sure there are things the fbi is working with its partners in the intelligence community need to do to protect us going forward. a sort of special role than what
mueller was doing, a backwards looking kind of thing. there's sen iry between the two and lessons and that sort of thing. >> again, you should be, first, very proud you were nominated for this position. you should be very proud of the demeanor and the kinds of questions and the insights the members have given you. i think it's a testament to the quality of your work experience and the quality of you as next director of the fbi. thank you and congratulations to your family. >> thank you, senator. >> i was referring to the senator from california but senator sfrank franken, i think up. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you mr. wray for meeting with me yesterday. i enjoyed our meeting. it was a good meeting. actually, senator tilless asked
the kind of question i wanted to ask. which is what the role going forward of the fbi is distinction from former director mueller's special prosecutor would be. you answered that question. i'm glad you answered that question, saying that part of what the fbi is doing is working so this doesn't happen again. because i think that we got to keep our eye on that ball because 2018 will be upon us soon and we don't want this to happen again. i'd like to first thank senator hatch for his work on the child protection improvement act. i would thank you for your commitment to help us get that bill passed and done. this is -- it helps organizations like organizations that do mentoring for kids to
get background checks so that vulnerable people -- this is also for people who work with seniors or for the elderly. they should be able to effectively screen their workers and their volunteers to make sure that they're trustworthy. so thank you for your commitment on that. this is something we've been trying to get done for a while. and i have these groups that are doing unbelievably great work asking for this. and i thank you for that. for the record, senator graham, i think he would have made a great fbi agent. i'm glad he's also in the senate. that said, i don't know about the article, the january politico article, that suggest that someone in the ukraine wanted to pass some information off to the clinton campaign but
i think you know the answer ton the quote. did the ukraine hack the rnc's database? did they hack kellyanne conway? did the clintons want to build a hotel in kiev? i think there's a big difference here and we know what russia did and that's a big deal. and thank you for saying that part of your job is making sure it doesn't happen again. we here of course have oversight over the fbi. will you come before us periodically so that we can do our oversight? >> yes, senator, i expect i'll be seeing a fair amount of the committee if confirmed. >> uh-huh. and likewise, do you think that
attorney general sessions should come before us periodically so we can exercise oversight? >> well, senator, i don't speak for the attorney general and his appearances but i'm sure he values this committee, having been a member of it and would need to appear before it periodically. >> yeah, i agree. let me ask you about when director comey was fired, one of the justifications was made that director comey had lost the confidence of rank and file fbi agents. you've known jim comey for a long time and you've worked alongside him and you know a good number of people at the fbi back from your time at the justice department, is that your experience talking to them? >> well, senator, obviously, i haven't done a scientific sampling of the 36,000 men and
women of the fbi -- >> why not? sorry, go ahead. >> appreciate your prashanatienh me on that one. all the people i've spoken with at the fbi from senior people down to rank and file people strike me as the same fbi i've always known and loved. which is people who are mission focused. who believe in what they're doing. who are going to follow the facts in the law whatever it takes them. they've got their head down. their spirit up. and they're charging ahead. now, if there's somebody somewhere who feels differently, that could be but i haven't met those people recently. >> you don't think director comey is a nut job, right? >> that's never been my experience with it. >> yeah, okay. i'm glad to hear that.
if you are asked in some kind of setting by the president to stop an investigation of somebody, aside from saying no, would you report that to us? >> well, i would report it to the deputy attorney general, assuming he wasn't already sitting there with me hearing it. and we would have a discussion about what we lawfully and appropriate can share with whom. i would make sure all the right people knew. >> i want to thank senator clobuchar for bringing up hate crime. this is what former fbi -- former director comey explained about hate crimes. he said they're different from other crimes because they, quote, strike at the heart of one's identity. they strike at our sense of
self, our sense of belonging, the end result is loss of trust, is loss. loss of trust, loss of dignity. and my view, that loss of dignity is a part of what makes hate crimes so pernicious. when an act of violence is motivated by hate against a particular group, properly identifying that act as a hate crime and prosecuting it as such can go a long way to restoring that dignity. but hate crimings are often underreported. both by victims and by state and local law enforcement. in part, that's because the federal hate crimes law does not require state and local police departments report incidents to the fbi so there's often little incentive to do that. recently an investigation by journalists revealed that at least 120 federal agencies are not uploading information about
the hate crimes they investigate and prosecute into the fbi's database. in fact, even the fbi isn't recording all of the hate crimes it investigates into its own database. and that to me is a problem. we need accurate data about the scope of the challenge in order to appropriately direct prevention enforcement resources. but we can't do that if we don't know how many incidents there are or where they've taken place. if, mr. wray, if the federal government isn't even keeping accurate data in its own databases, how can we expect state and local police departments to step up? >> well, senator, i share your concern about the need for accurate data. i'm not familiar with exactly how the reporting system works or, as you're describing, maybe doesn't work, right now. but it's something i would look forward to learning more about
and drilling down on. >> would you commit to me to help address this problem and work to improve recording by state and local entities of the number of hate crimes that they are dealing with? >> well, i would commit to taking a hard look at the issue early in my tenure and looking for ways we could work together on the issue. >> okay, well, thank you very much. mr. wray, i have been very impressed with our meeting. i've been impressed with your testimony here today. you've come here at a hard time. this is under very extraordinary circumstances. and i thank you for your willingness to take on this job and i, you know, looking around, i'm feeling that you've had a
good hearing today and best of luck to you, sir. >> thank you, senator, that means a lot. >> senator kennedy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. wray, you have a very impressive resume. i agree with senator franken. i think you've done very well today. who interviewed you for this job? >> senator, i was contacted originally by deputy attorney general rosenstein. that was the first inkling today was even a gleam in anybody's eye. i met shortly thereafter with deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions together, the two of them. and then as has been publicly reported, i think it was the day after memorial day, i had a
brief meeting at the white house that was attended by several people from the white house, including the president, as well as several people. and then i was announced as the intended nominee. >> indulge me a second. for my second question, i have to lay a little bit of a foundation. some of my colleagues have alluded to this today. our country began as a self-reliant widely taxed debt-averse union of states. but our country's changed a lot in a couple hundred years. i don't mean this to be a pejorative statement. i mean it to be factual.
the power of the federal government, the united states government, is breathtaking. and i don't think there's a single agency that is more symbolic of that power than the fbi. you could ruin people's lives. hopefully when that happens they deserve it. at some point, who did what to whom in the last election is going to be a distant memory. at some point the investigation of russia's interference in the election will be over. but what will remain is the fbi and its reputation. i don't think the fbi's a political body. not the rank and file members.
i don't want to believe that. and i don't believe that. but i worry about the perception that some americans might have about the fbi. based on some of the testimony that this committee and others have heard in the past. not today. here's what i'm looking for. i want you to be apolitical. i don't want you to exhaust yourself trying to make political friends up here. i want you to be sock rates. i want you to tell us how you're going to do that in this environment. >> well, senator, first let me say, i have i think a heightened
appreciation for the point i think you're making about the power of the fbi and what you said about the fbi's ability to ruin people's lives. one of the things that i did, even as head of the criminal division, was i tried to meet with every new hire. and we're talking about over 400 lawyers. but every time we have a new hire, i would spend 10 to 15 minutes one on one with that person. one of the points i would try to make is that the decisions that that prosecutor would make, and the same thing would be true obviously for fbi agents in spades. short of their wedding or a death in their family, the public's interaction with law enforcement is the most meaningful impactful experience those people ever have. our agents need to conduct themselves in a way that remembers that. and remembers that power.
and remembers how much significance they have. these are not just the people they deal with. whether it's witnesses, family members, jurors, it doesn't matter. all those people will remember their interaction with law enforcement in a way that -- law enforcement do this every day may not remember quite as viv vividly. second thing i would say in response to your question is i come back to the point i made in answer to senator klobuchar. the process needs to be free from favor. because if people have confidence in the process, then they can have confidence in the results. sometimes the results will be charges. sometime also those results will be declinations. >> let me ask you about the process. i appreciate your answer, counsel.
i think history will demonstrate that white houses have been offering their advice to the fbi director for decades. where do you draw the line? if the white house calls you, i'm anxious to know, curious to know how it works internally. if the white house calls you and says we were reading about a story on medicaid fraud in a particular state and we think you ought to look into that, is that appropriate? >> my response to something like that, senator, would be, if you have evidence, same thing i would say to anybody in this country, if you have evidence of a crime you think the fbi needs to look at, give us the evidence, we'll take a look at it, we'll make an assessment, we'll play it by the book.
just like with any witness who's supplying information, i would consider the source and i would try to take into account any particular circumstances, if there was any other agenda going on. the white house might have information, in your hypothetical, about a crime that might need to be investigated. i would take that seriously. just like you would for anybody. >> all right. >> suppose the attorney general, who i know has recused himself, but let's suppose for a moment -- well, i don't want to personalize this. let's suppose an acting attorney general called you and said stop referring to the russian investigation as an investigation and refer to it as a matter. what would you do? >> well, senator, i think i'd need to understand why they thought the description was inaccurate.
>> i tend to be somebody who listens with an open mind. but if i disagree with the characterization, i'm going to have to play it by the book and call what it is. >> well, suppose the reason you were asked to do that is because matter plays better with the public than investigation? >> i would try to persuade the answer asking me is why the request was ill considered. >> what if they said do it anyway? >> then i would consult with the appropriate ethics officials and make a judgment about what my next course of action should be. >> okay. and what if they said the ethics -- well, strike that. i don't know -- let's don't speculate what the ethics people would say. we have a extraordinary crime problem in new orleans. we're rapidly becoming the murder and armed robbery capital
of the western hemisphere. if you're confirmed, and i believe you will be, can i count on you within the limited scarce resources you have and all resources ought to be considered to be scarce, can i count on you to give us a little advice and help? we're wrestling with a huge crime problem and we're losing. >> well, senator, you can count on me to take a hard look and figure out how we can be more effective in new orleans just like we need to figure out how we can be more effective in every city that's targeted by violent crime. >> okay, thank you, mr. wray. >> thank you, senator. >> madam chair, madam ranking member, i was handed a note and i'm supposed to say -- but you can say it if you like.
. >> as you heard, a brief break in the senate hearing for christopher wray, president trump's nominee to lead the fbi. testimony's expected to continue into the early afternoon. committee members as you heard taking a short recess now as the senate is conducting a series of votes including a judicial nominee and an ambassadorial position. you can see the senate on c-span 2. but back here on c-span 3 shortly we'll continue with live coverage when the committee reconve reconvenes. so while this break is under way, we'll go back to earlier in the day in this hearing and watch a couple of portions starting with the opening statement.
>> do you affirm the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. i think now whatever time you take for the usual thing is for a statement but it's also quite usual in this committee any introductions you want to make you can appropriately make those. that's your decision. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, senator feinstein, members of the committee, thank you for the privilege of appearing before you today. i also want to thank senator nunn for that really very kind introduction. there's no way i could contemplate undertaking an
endeavor like this without the love and support of my family. with me here today is my wife helen, both of our kids, caroline and trip, my parents gilda and cecil wray. my sister katie. my niece maggie. my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and two of their children amelia and clark. a commitment like this affects the whole family, and i have no words to adequately express my gratitude to all of them. i'm honored by the president to be nominated to lead the fbi and i'm humbled by the prospect of working alongside the outs standing men and women of the bureau. time and time again, often when the stakes are highest, they have proven their unshakable commitment to protecting americans, upholding our constitution and our laws and demonstrating the virtues of the
fbi motto, fidelity, bravery and integrity. former attorney general and judge griffin bell, who i had the great pleasure to work with quite a bit early in my career, often used to say that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. and i think in my experience the men and women of the fbi demonstrate the limitless potential of that saying day after day in the way they tackle the mission. while the fbi has justly earned the reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, its special agents, analysts and support staff more often than not operate largely out of public view. they toil at great risk to themselves and at great sacrifice by their families.
but they happily defer individual recognition because they believe that the principles they serve are much larger than themselves. i feel very fortunate to have been able to witness that kind of selfless and inspiring commitment firsthand throughout my career in public service. as a prosecutor i learned a great deal with working with brave fbi agents on everything from bank robberies to public corruption, from kidnapping to financial fraud. those agents are my friends to this day and they taught me a lot about what it means to play it straight and to follow the facts wherever they may lead. i continued my career in public service in the summer of 2001 by moving to washington to work at the justice department with my friend and mentor then deputy attorney general larry compton who you also heard senator nunn reference.
after 9/11 i witnessed again firsthand the fbi's extraordinary capabilities as the people there worked around the clock and moved heaven and earth to try to ensure that horrific attacks like those that occurred on september 11th never happen again. i know from up close and i sleep better because i know that the horror of 9/11 has never faded from the fbi's collective memory. the bureau has never grown complacent and continues to work tirelessly every day to protect all americans. as head of the justice department's criminal division, i again saw countless examples of the fbi's unflagging pursuit of justice, free and independent of any favor or influence. from counterterrorism and counterespionage to the then rapidly escalating threat of cybercrime, from human
trafficking to public corruption and financial fraud, i worked with and learned from the men and women of the fbi who put it all on the line to make our streets safer and our lives better. if i am given the honor of leading this agency, i will never allow the fbi's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice, period, full stop. my loyalty is to the constitution and to the rule of law. those have been my guide posts throughout my career andly i will continue to adhere to them no matter the test. there is no doubt as this committee knows that our country faces grave threats. as lots of other people have noticed, america's law enforcement and intelligence
agencies have essentially to pitch a perfect game every day, while those who would inflict harm on us just have to hit once to advance their aims. i consider the fbi director's most important duty to ensure that nothing distracts the selfless patriots at the fbi from the mission. in conclusion, i pledge to be the leader that the fbi deserves and to lead an independent bureau that will make every american proud. thank you, mr. chairman, senator feinstein. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. >> you say that mueller's a good guy, right? >> that's been my experience, yes. >> and you'll do anything necessary to protect him from being interfered with when it comes to doing his job. >> absolutely. i think he's a stand-up guy. >> do you believe in light of the don junior e-mail and other allegations, that this whole thing about trump campaign and russia is a witch hunt?
is that a fair description of what we're all dealing with in america? >> well, senator, i can't speak to the basis for those comments. i can tell you that my experience with mueller -- >> are i'm asking you as the future fbi director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt? >> i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch hunt. >> thank you. can the president fire director mueller? does he have the authority in the law to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us and answer that question? >> i'd be happy to take a look at it. >> okay. do you realize that you're stepping into the role of the director at fbi in one of the most contentious times in the history of american politics? >> well, as senator nunn said, there have been a lot of contentious times in american politics, but i think this one certainly ranks up there. >> do you understand the challenge that lies ahead for you because institutions in the
eyes of the american people are suffering and the last thing we want to happen is for the fbi to fall out of favor with the american people? >> i fully understand this is not a job for the faint of heart. i can assure this committee i am not faint of heart. >> comey, did you see the press conference he gave about the hillary clinton investigation in july of last year? >> not live, but yes. >> would you have done that? >> well, senator, there is an inspector general investigation into comey's conducts -- >> i'm not asking about the investigation. i'm asking about you. would you have done that? >> i can tell you that in my experience as a prosecutor and as head of the criminal division, i understand there to be department policies that govern public comments about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are there for a reason. i would follow those policies. >> he talked about somebody that
was never charged in a disparaging fashion. do you agree with that? >> that's the way i understood his comments. >> do you also agree he took over the prosecutor's job by saying there's no case here? is >> again, there's an inspector general's investigation into his conduct -- >> you would not have done either one of those is what you're telling this community? at least i hope that's what you're telling this committee. >> i can't imagine a situation -- >> fair enough. >> -- as an fbi director where i have a situation where i would give a press conference on an uncharged individual. >> thank you. they've got dirt on lindsey graham's opponent, should you take that meeting? >> i think you'd want to consult with -- >> you're going to be the director. so if you get a call from somebody suggesting a foreign government wants to help you by
disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the fbi? >> to the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> all right. so i'll take it we should call you and that's a great answer. now, this is what don junior said saturday before the e-mail came out. if i can find it here. this is his statement. about what i just read to you. it was a short introductory meeting and i asked jared and paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children. that was active and popular with american families years ago and was since ended by the russian government. but is not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up. i was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance but was not told the name of the
person i would be meeting with beforehand. do you think that's a fair summary of the contact between donald trump jr. and this rob goldstone? >> i do not know -- >> would you agree with me this is very misleading? >> senator, again, i don't have full context to be able to speak to -- >> okay. i want you to look at it and get back with the committee and find out if that was misleading. is russia our friend or our enemy? >> senator, i think russia is a foreign nation we have to deal with warily. >> you think they're an adversary of the united states? >> in some situations, yes. >> do you think the situation of trying to compromise our election is an adversarial move on their part? >> yes. >> do you believe the russians did it when it came to the hacking into the dnc and podesta's e-mails? do you believe the conclusions? >> senator, as i said to your colleague --
>> do you have any reason to doubt -- >> i have no reason to doubt the conclusions of the intelligence community. >> would that make you a good candidate to be an enemy of the united states? >> i think an effort to interfere with our elections is an adversarial act, as you said before. >> all right. round two of the problexam. we are calling chr ining christ. we begin with senator coons. >> thank you, senator sasse. for the opportunity to question the witness. mr. wray, thank you for your prior service and your continued willingness to serve our country particularly at this important and difficult time. i know this may not need repeating but let us not forget why we're having this hearing.
your predecessor james comey was not even at the halfway point of his tenured term as fbi director when president trump abruptly fired him without cause and without warning. and president trump said when he fired director comey that he was thinking about the fbi's investigation of russian interference into our elections. an investigation that director comey was then overseeing. so now more than ever i believe it to be crucial that our next fbi director be prepared to be steadfastly independent. and as we had a chance to discussion before this hearing, it falls on you today not only to clearly demonstrate to our committee that you possess the legal investigative and management skills required for the position for what you've been dominated, but you have a fierce commitment to maintaining the integrity of the fbi as an independent agency and you will conduct yourself as fbi director in a way that is above partisanship. let's move to it, if we might. first, how will you ensure that the fbi provides all the
resources that special counsel mueller needs to thoroughly conduct and complete the investigation he's currently in charge of? >> well, senator, the first thing i would do, if confirmed, is to reach out to former director mueller and elicit his advice about what it is he needs and whether he's getting it from the fbi. and knowing former director mueller and knowing what a straight talker and plain talker he is, i have no doubt that if he's not getting what he needs, he would let me know. >> i agree. attorney general sessions praised your selection as the fbi nominee. did you interview with attorney general sessions? >> i interviewed with deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions together, at the same time. >> and did either of them ask you about the conduct of the russia investigation during your interview? >> no. >> attorney general sessions, as we discussed and you well know,
is recused from and i quote any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for presidents of the united states, including the investigation into russian interference. as i told you when we met before, i'm concerned that attorney general sessions hasn't fully complied with the scope of his recusal. is it appropriate for the attorney general to make public comments on the ongoing investigation, to engage in decisions about its resourcing funding or staffing? is that an appropriate part of his management role of the agency as attorney general? >> well, senator, i'm not sure it's for me to speak to the attorney general's decision making about his own public comments. i would say that if he's recused from an investigation, that to me that means he shouldn't be participating in decision making about the investigation. but of course the attorney general is the head of the
entire justice department and as important as this particular investigation is, and it is extremely important, in my view, there are many, many, many other things that the fbi and the department are responsible res and i think that is the appropriate role for the attorney general as its leader. >> so i'll agree with you that in my view it's not appropriate for the attorney general to participate in investigations related to the trump campaign, and as the person in charge of the operations, the department of justice, he is involved in making at the highest level management decisions. but it's exactly those decisions about the access to resources, the scope, the trajectory of bob mueller's investigation that i wanted to make sure i got to. will you commit to studying the scope of attorney general sessions' recusal and ensuring appropriate procedures are in place to honor it at the fbi and then reporting any violations of that recusal to this congress? >> well, senator, i'm not sure
i'm the authority over his recusal scope. what i would commit to you is that i will take a close look shortly upon being confirmed, if confirmed, to, as i said, making sure that former director mueller, now special counsel mueller, has all the appropriate resources that he ought to have. and my expectation is that i would remain committed to that support regardless of any decisions by anybody else in the department. >> so if a directive came down from the attorney general about prioritization or resources that you thought inappropriately interfered, or interfered in any way, with the resources requested by special counsel mueller, you'd act to prevent that from hindering the investigation. >> i would not tolerate any inappropriate influence on special counsel mueller's investigation, to the extent that i'm supporting it. at the end of the day, it's his
investigation. >> we had another conversation last week, it's been raised by other colleagues, about an episode during your time at the department of justice that you were prepared to resign. this was over an ongoing but unauthorized by congress surveillance program. you testified previously you hadn't been read into all the details of it. and it seemed in some ways you were going on a gut hunch. you were following people who you knew were thoroughly read in, who you practice the closely with and you admired. i'm characterizing roughly what i heard before. in hindsight you've had time to better understand what was going on, what was the contest and what were the issues. in hindsight, were you right to be willing to throw your career aside and to be willing to join these folks in resigning had they had to, and would you do that again? >> stotd first part of your question, senator, i have not for any minute ever regretted my willingness to resign as i explained it to deputy attorney general comey at that time.
my decision was not based solely on gut. my decision was based on knowledge, very close working knowledge with the range of people who were read in, knowing that they were not, as i said to senator whitehouse, not shrinking vi lets, tough on terror, very thoughtful intellectually honest people, and people who, by the way, didn't all agree with each other all the time. so when i put all that together, my familiarity of those people, how they think, how they come out on war on terror issues, and knowing that they felt strongly enough that they were willing to resign over much greater knowledge of the program than i had at the time, i was confident then that resigning with them if necessary was the right decision. and now later, having learned many more of the facts that weren't available to them -- to me then, i'm even more confident that it would have been the
right decision. >> thank you for that. former attorney general bell, i think you quoted before as saying, you should be willing to resign if necessary over conduct if you're pressed to engage in it if it's unethical, illegal or unconstitutional. could you explore for me for a few more minutes what were the values that you brought to that decision and what values among those three or others would you bring to having to make a similar decision in the future if you get pressed to do something that meets one of those three tests suggested by former attorney general bell? >> the values i brought to that particular decision were the knowledge that it was the appropriate -- that the appropriate parts of the justice department and the fbi were doing their job, doing their duty to evaluate the legality of the program in question. and i thought that knowing the confidence that i had in them,
in their commitment to do -- their ability to do their job, that that needed to be respected, respected even to the point of me having to resign to support them in it. i'm not sure if i got all of your question. i might need you to refresh me. >> that's more than satisfactory, thank you. acting attorney general sally yates was fired after she refused to defend the travel ban based on her concerns the order wasn't lawful or consistent with the facts. if you're fired or resign for refusing to carry out a presidential order, will you commit to come to congress to testify about that decision and what drove you to make that decision? >> well, certainly if i legally and appropriately can. i would need to know the circumstances of any particular situation. but i would want to comply with the laws and rules first and foremost, but if i can i would comply with any lawful request from congress. >> in my last minute, let me return to a question that was raised earlier. i just want to make sure we've
gotten this clearly. senator graham asked you about an e-mail to donald trump jr. offering the trump campaign very high level and sensitive information, and this is a quote from the e-mail, as part of russia and government support for mr. trump. chief ethics lawyers for former presidents george w. bush and president obama have said, and this is a joint quote, we've worked on political campaigns for decades and have never heard of an offer like this one. if we had, we would have insisted upon immediate notification of the fbi. and so at any normal campaign lawyer official or even senior volunteer. russian interference in our election happened. and may very well happen again. if a campaign staffer, or a senator, or someone working around them gets an offer of foreign government assistance to defeat its opponent, do you agree the right thing to do is to promptly notify the fbi? >> senator, i would hope that
anyone who is aware of an effort to -- or an attempt to interfere with our elections would report that to the appropriate authorities. i mean, just whether it's somebody in a campaign or somebody anywhere else. i think especially in the context of cyber type intrusions. the fbi and others in the intelligence community depend on people who are receiving the contact from reaching out and coordinating with law enforcement intelligence community. that's a big important part of the messaging on that effort. so i would think anybody in that situation, i would hope, would want to bring the issue to the attention of the appropriate authorities, assuming they think that something untoward or inappropriate has occurred. >> can you reach any other conclusion from that e-mail other than something untoward and inappropriate is being
proffered? >> senator, i haven't read the e-mail. i haven't even had a chance to read any of the newspaper coverage. it's all happened during a time when i've spent all day going from one senate building to another, meeting with all of your colleagues. so i'm sorry, but i just don't know the details of the e-mail. >> i think senator graham has already asked you to respond to us in the future. do i have a few more minutes, or senator sass, do you have more questions? >> i have another round. but we also have votes. you can go two more, but not a full round. >> i will conclude. >> thank you, sir. >> let me simply say to your family, i'm grateful for your willingness to undertake this. and for you personally, i'm grateful for you willing to undertake this. i think we're at an essential moment for the future role of law and respect for our institutions and traditions in this country. as you've heard from senators, both republican and democrat, this is an essential confirmation hearing and a critical role which you're
undertaking. because of the pace at which things are moving, because of the challenges and issues and allegations in front of us, because of the central role the fbi plays in counterintelligence, in protecting our republic and enforcing our laugws, i'm confident that you have the skills and values to be a great fbi director. >> thank you, senator. that means a lot. >> i'd like to associate myself with those comments from the senator from delaware as well. i think this is a critically important time in public life, and for not just the rule of law, but also the norms around it. and i appreciate the thoughts and sentiments from the delaware senator. i would like to return to something you said in your opening statement. i'm quoting you. while the fbi has justly earned its reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, its special agents and staff operate largely out of public view. they toil at great risk to themselves and at great sacrifice by their families.
but they happily defer individual recognition because they believe that the principles they serve are so much larger than themselves. it's beautifully crafted. and as someone who's worked and around the bureau before, 36,000 current employees of the bureau, is that right? >> i think it's about that. >> some really thoughtful, selfless public servants who do toil often at great financial cost compared to what they could earn in the private sector, without a lot of recognition, oftentimes in danger and at threats of life and limb, and time away from home, and thank you for representing them in the way you talked about the mission and the culture of the bureau. obviously there have been some dark times at the bureau in the past. we've spoken a little bit today about director hoover, and the ways that he mismanaged that agency, 45, 50 years ago. but also, there was politicization across both
parties. the kennedy administration, the johnson administration and nixon administration all regularly tried to politicize and weaponize the fbi against the civil rights activists and against lots of other people who weren't able to fight back against that big and overreaching state. i think one of the reasons why you've heard so much support for the way you conceive of this mission, and this calling today, is because of the ways you've made clear how you think this calling and this oath obligate you to work for the constitution, in defense of the constitution on behalf of the american people, not on behalf of either political party. as you've reiterated again and again, your willingness to resign if ever forced to politicize an investigation. i think that's why you hear so much bipartisan support for your confirmation today. would you also pledge to this committee that if ever directed by the white house, to shut down or curtail an investigation, that you would report that back to this committee?
not necessarily in a public setting, but at the very least in a classified setting? would you commit today that any white house direction that you would curtail or end an investigation is something that you would report back to this committee and this senate? >> i would certainly report it wherever it is appropriate. i would need to make sure that i was compliant with all my legal obligations in doing so. but if i can appropriately do it, i would want to make sure that i could bring it to the appropriate committee's attention in the appropriate way. >> i appreciate all of the complicated chain of command issues inside an agency, like yours, and main justice where the bureau reports in a little more at the d.a.g. level than the ag level. wouldn't you agree with us that the senate's constitutional only gakss to oversight mean that we are one of the destinations to which you should be reporting, not just the executive department's chain of command? >> i would certainly agree that this committee and other committees with oversight responsibilities over the fbi
have an enormously critical role as part of our system. and i think it needs to be respected in all the appropriate ways. and i would make every effort within the chain of command that you refer to, senator, to urge that we be as forthcoming as we legally and appropriately can be with all the right members of the senate. and the house. >> this is obviously a very politicized time in american life, and politicized time in the congress. but i'm filling in right now for a chairman, chuck grassley of iowa, who has lots of bipartisan respect around this place, because people know when he does oversight, he's doing it as an article 1 branch of article 2 of the constitution. he's not doing it as a republican of an administration, that he's either -- is or isn't aligned with his own party affiliation. this is a constitutional separation of powers issue. i can say on behalf of the chairman, there's a lot of
robust support around here for you making sure that we recognize this is a committee that would like to hear those details when you are ever pushed to politicize. your predecessor, assuming your confirmation, famously referred to wikileaks as intelligence porn, as opposed to journalism. and he said that the bedrock of our democracy requires public trust, and that wikileaks is regularly acting on behalf of other governments against the interests of the u.s. public. can you briefly sprain for this committee and and the american people how wikileaks became an outlet of foreign, specifically russian propaganda? >> senator, i don't have access to that information, so you don't know how that came to occur. i certainly share former director comey's concern about that. and i have no reason to doubt his description. that's something i would have to learn more about, once i had
access once again to classified information. but wikileaks was not a thing when i was in government before. so my observations of it have been solely through, like any american watching the news media, in bits and pieces. >> i recognize you've been in the private sector so you're not up to speed on all of these issues yet, but is it your sense as you're rising to lead the critical agency that is part of the intelligence community, it's broadly law enforcement agency, but obviously has the national security division and you have lots of other ic relationships. is it your view that we are currently adequately investing in the cyber challenges of our time? >> well, senator, i don't think i know enough to be able to make a really responsible evaluation of the resources. what i can tell you is that my sense is that as much as everybody is talking about the threats of the sort that you're describing, i have the sense
that we are just scratching the surface of how grave the threats really are, or at least how grave the threats are about to be before we blink and wake up. i think that's really based on what limited information -- conversations i've had with people. my sense is that one of the biggest changes i've seen from being in law enforcement for a number of years, and then being out, and then now getting reintroduced again, is, whereas cyber was a sort of discreet topic back in, say, 2005, it had a lot of attention. now in 2017, cyber in many ways permeates every aspect of national security, of the intelligence community, of every type of criminal conduct we deal with. it's become part of the fabric, both of our security, but also of the threats to our security.
and it's hard for me to imagine we're doing nearly enough. i think we can always do better. >> when you are in the classified bunker getting briefings on these topics, i'm one of five people on the u.s. senate who has never been a politician before, i've been here about 30 months, and in my time interviewing people, it is fairly stunning how when you ask direct questions about, not just our cyber operations, and our implementation, but cyber doctrine, offensive and defensive doctrine, when you ask who's responsible for cyber doctrine inside the executive branch, in the last administration, and in the current administration, the main thing that happens is people start looking sideways and trying to figure out who else they can point to. how do you conceive of the fbi's responsibilities in the larger institutional framework of cyber responsibilities across the u.s. government? what is the fbi's role? >> i think the fbi probably has multiple roles. it has a criminal investigative
role when there are ways in which the criminal investigative tools can be used to prevent, detect, disrupt threats, but then it also has an intelligence role, where it partners with our partners in the intelligence community, and our oversees partners in trying to defend our systems and our infrastructure from attacks. which is a slightly different kind of role. the two things work hand in hand. and i would think that there's an analogy that could be drawn to the terrorism arena, in terms of awareness. i remember listening to a prominent counterterrorism expert in a room full of prosecutors, from all around the world, and it was a very jovial meeting until this guy got up and spoke. he said there are two types of
countries. there are those who have been hit by terrorist attacks and get it, and there are those who have not yet. and then you could have heard a pin drop. because it certainly cut a lot of the joy out of the room. i think there is a degree to which the cyber threats that we face, the same kind of statement could be made there. my strong suspicion is that there are countries that have been hit, and have started to wake up, there are countries that have been hit and started to wake up, and then there are many who haven't realized it yet, key word being yet, because it's coming. >> assuming that you're confirmed, can you tell us a little bit about your first 90 days, or first 100-day plan for how you will assess issues like our cyber capabilities and our cyber threats? and obviously in the counterterrorism space, a place that you've worked a lot more, trying to get back up to speed
to where we may be underinvesting, what's your arrival plan? >> i think one of the first things i need to do is sit down with the senior management of the bureau and start getting briefed up on all of the areas that the fbi's responsible for. i would be largely following off of the priorities that the fbi has in its strategy, which prioritizes counterterrorism, counterespionage and cyber at the top. but since my guess is i'm probably furthest behind in some ways, just because of the advance in technology on the cyber front, i would want to prioritize in particular spending more time on some of those issues early on, just because my own learning curve, as is true of anybody who's been out of that part of it, with the break-neck pace of advance of technology, those are some of the things i would prioritize early on. >> thank you. i have a number of cyber
questions that you and i started discussing in my office that i look forward to following up with you on, and trying to support you on when you have this important new calling. i'm going to turn the gavel back to the chairman. but if senator flake is ready to go, we will turn the questioning over to him. thank you, mr. wray. >> thank you. >> thank you for being here. thanks for the visit to my office as well. enjoyed the discussion. just following up on some of that, i know these questions have been asked a lot of times already, but the obligatory, do you feel you can give the independence to the fbi director for that position? >> senator, i am my own man, and i intend to be governed by the constitution, by the laws, and by the rules, and to do things by the book, strictly independently, without fear or favor, and certainly without regard for partisan politics. that's the only way i think you can do this job. >> thank you.
we discussed in my office some of the challenges coming up to the fbi. you mentioned technology and cyber obviously. with regard to technology, it seems that in this committee, we try to balance obviously security and privacy. as soon as we arrive at a solution, technology changes. we're at square one once again. can you talk about that process with the fbi, and how you can work with this committee, and the congress, to ensure that we have the proper balance between privacy and security? >> well, certainly, as you say, senator, there needs to be a balance. and that's not just a privacy interest, but a protection of infrastructure. but i do believe very strongly that technology, the private sector is advancing at such a rapid pace, and government
historically, federal government, state and local government, foreign governments are historically not as nimble in change. and somehow we as a country have to figure out a way to get the one step ahead of the bad guys, and those who would do us harm. and in a way they would use technology against us, as opposed to chasing the last technological advance. i think it's got to be a high priority to work both with the congress, but also to reach out to industry and see if we can secure better cooperation in that effort. >> thank you. turning to an issue that's important to arizona, as a border state. eliminating public corruption on the southern border has traditionally been a priority for the fbi. in the past the bureau has investigated public corruption and identified trends in these activities. do you agree that this remains an issue, especially for border states like arizona?
>> senator, i strongly agree that public corruption is an important priority for the fbi all throughout the country. my experience with public corruption investigations goes all the way back to my time as a line prosecutor, some of the most meaningful cases that i worked on were public corruption cases. and then as assistant attorney general, of course, the public integrity section reported up to me. and that section played an incredibly important role. my experience historically in the fbi, that some of the very, very best agents in the fbi gravitate to the public corruption squads. and that's because the skill level and sophistication of the very best fbi agents is, in my view, without parallel. and public corruption cases are extremely difficult to pursue. and it requires some of the best and brightest agents, and it's watching a good public corruption fbi agent work a
public corruption case is really a sight to behold. it would inspire any american as it did me when i saw it. >> all right. thank you. as you may or may not know, all pligts for law enforcement positions at the u.s. customs and border protection or cbp are mandated to pass a polygraph test for employment. the problem we're having is cbp has high failure rates, 65%, more than any other federal law enforcement agency. these high failure rates have prevented cbp from hiring enough officers to adequately staff our ports of entry, for example. and i think it's problematic for cbp to be turning away qualified applicants with distinguished military and law enforcement service records. just because of a potentially flawed polygraph. what we're finding is a lot of people are reluctant to submit themselves because they've heard of false positives out there,
and fear it might impact their ability to land another federal or state or local law enforcement job in the future. given fbi's success administering its own polygraph, and i've asked this of mr. comey as well, will you commit to provide guidance or share best practices with cbp and dhs to better conduct their polygraph examination? >> senator, that's not an issue that i'm especially familiar with at this stage, but something i would look forward to learning more about, and seeing how we at the bureau could be helpful to cbp in that regard. >> that would be helpful. fbi, we understand, has a much better program there. and it is a significant problem on our border to hire, just to, you know, deal with attrition, let alone hire the number of officers as border patrol agents, or port officials, that we need. now, over the last -- the past
few years, we've witnessed several high-profile data breaches at federal government agencies, including omb, data breaches are often caused by a technological vulnerability or human vulnerability or both. i asked your predecessor about this, but i want to hear your thoughts as well. given the amount of sensitive data held by the fbi and doj generally, what steps will you take at the bureau to ensure that the data is secure both from technological weaknesses and by human hackers? >> well, senator, at the moment i don't know much about the fbi's security status, in terms of its cybersecurity. but that's something i would need to focus on early on. i would want to get briefed by the right experts to understand not only what we've done, but what they see as the threats. and how they can be confident that they've correctly identified the threats.
what kind of pressure testing and reality checking they've done to make sure that our systems aren't more vulnerable than they might appreciate. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'd like to defer to my colleague, senator blumenthal. >> thanks to senator orono for letting me go first. thank you, mr. wray, for your willingness to serve, and your family's. i want to ask you a couple of questions and hope that you can give me answers that are as straightforward as you can, given the limitations of your position. in your view, is obstruction of justice a serious crime? >> absolutely. >> is your view that lying to the fbi is a serious crime? >> absolutely. >> and both should be investigated vigorously if
there's evidence that they occurred? >> yes. >> to your knowledge, is there evidence that there has been perjury or obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation into russian interference in our elections 2016? >> i don't have knowledge to that effect, senator, but i think special counsel mueller would have jurisdiction over that. >> and the reason that he's investigating is because there is sufficient evidence to warrant a special counsel, as i advocated at the very beginning of rod rosenstein's appointment and what he ultimately agreed to do. i view this investigation with the utmost seriousness, because it does involve obstruction of justice and perjury, and potential defrauding the government of its lawful services. conspiracy to violate the computer fraud and abuse act, and other violations of law. and you and i have talked about the need for the fbi to be as
independent and immune from political interference as possible, because i foresee a firestorm brewing that will threaten the fbi. and i'm going to support you, because i do believe that you will provide the kind of independence and integrity that the fbi needs, based on your record, and your experience and expertise. and i am trusting, as i think members of this body will, trust you to take that most solemn and historically significant obligation as seriously as you do the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice. those kinds of crimes betray the rule of law, because they impede vigorous and independent investigation, and we will be counting on you to protect the fbi, which is an institution of
such professional excellence and integrity that it is worth any person's career to defend. i hope you agree. >> i do agree, senator. >> if you foresee a threat to that independence and integrity that rises to the level of political interference, will you commit to taking appropriate action which may include resigning from office? >> yes, senator, as we discussed when we met, one of the lessons i got from both former attorney general griffin bell and former deputy attorney general larry thompson is that you cannot take on a position like this without resolving in advance that you have to be willing to quit or be fired at a moment's notice in order to stand up for what you think is right, and that would be my commitment to stand firm to that maxim. >> you also told me that you try to persuade whoever might be
taking inappropriate or illegal action, whether it's the president of the united states or anyone else, in an effort to persuade that official to change course, correct? >> that's correct, senator. my whole career, both public and private, has consisted of an awful lot of time telling people things they don't want to hear. and talking people out of bad ideas. >> in my view, the firing of your predecessor warrants investigation as a potential obstruction of justice. we have not yet proof beyond a reasonable doubt. we have nothing like it. and we're short of evidence necessary to charge anyone. but if that kind of crime has been committed, you would investigate it seriously and diligently, correct? >> well, certainly -- as to the
particular investigation, special counsel mueller is conducting that investigation, and i would view the fbi's role as providing whatever appropriate support is needed so that he can do a thorough investigation. if it were to occur in some other context, then absolutely, the fbi, i think, and i take obstruction of justice, perjury, false statements, offenses like that, definitely seriously because they go to the integrity of the process. and as i said, i think in response to questions from some of your colleagues, like senator klobuchar, that it's the integrity of the process is what gives the american people confidence that the outcome of the investigation is the right one. >> and you're a partner in that investigation, and i believe that you told me when we met privately that you would provide whatever resources are needed by bob mueller to do that investigation. >> i would provide all appropriate resources to him. my experience with director mueller, when we worked together
before, was always terrific. and i feel confident that he would be professional and only make appropriate requests. >> will you commit to report to this committee any attempts to deny him, and that investigation, resources and whatever are needed by others in the administration? >> senator, if there was an inappropriate request to deny him appropriate resources, i would try to evaluate the circumstances and take all the appropriate action. >> will you be making records of your conversations as jim comey did, as you call director comey contemporaneously, made memoranda to reflect his conversations with the president and others, would you do the same? >> i think it would depend on
the situation, senator. i can commit that i would be listening very intently to any conversation i had with anybody of consequence. to me, that's the most important thing. if a conversation that i had suggested to me that i ought to create some record, i wouldn't hesitate to do it. and i've done that before at various stages of my private practice, for example. but i would evaluate each situation on its own merit and circumstances. >> a conversation with the president of the united states probably would be a significant conversation, correct? >> well, depends what the conversation would be about. i mean, i think if the president said, how's your family, i'm not sure i would create a record of something like that. >> correct. but if he said, i want a pledge of loyalty from you, christopher wray, that would be significant? >> i would consider that significant. as i said to some of your colleagues, i was not asked to take any kind of loyalty oath, and i would refuse --
>> i heard your testimony about that in the past. and i respect and believe that you're being truthful in that regard. but going into the future, i take it that if he asked for pledge of loyalty or asked you to shut down an investigation or go lightly on someone, that would be a conversation worth recording, and in fact, worth reporting to this committee i hope? >> i would -- a conversation like that is something i would take very seriously and want to make sure that all the right people knew. >> let me ask one last question on this line. you've been asked about the e-mails from donald trump jr. that have been in public light recently. in your view, as a former prosecutor, could those e-mails under some circumstances be evidence of criminal intent? >> senator, as i think i might have said to one of your colleagues, i actually haven't read the e-mails. i haven't even had a chance to
read the newspaper coverage about the e-mails because it's all happened while i was going up and down from one senate building to another meeting with all of your colleagues. so i'm really not up to speed on it. i can't responsibly answer that question. >> let me switch to a different topic. you've mentioned the scourge of gun violence in this country. would you support common-sense measures to stop gun violence? as you know, i've championed a number of them, along with others on this committee and in the senate, including universal background checks? would you support that kind of measure? >> i would want to take a look at any specific legislative proposal, and get back to you once i had evaluated any specific piece of legislation. but i do support efforts to deal with gun violence aggressively and effectively. and i think my record as a prosecutor, and in the leadership of the department, is consistent with that. >> in principle, you would support such measures, you'd want to see the details, but for
example, on universal background checks, you would not rule out supporting a measure? >> i wouldn't rule out any common-sense gun reform legislation without having a chance to review it. i would have to review it and make an assessment based on the circumstances. but i can commit to you that being tough on gun violence is something that i would want to be as director of the fbi. >> and one last question. between 1977 and 2015, there have been hundreds of crimes committed against reproductive health care facilities, clinics, and other offices, abortion providers, reproductive health care, centers including 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 185 arsons, and so forth. in 1998, attorney general janet reno created the national task force on violence against
reproductive health providers, to coordinate investigation and prosecution of such incidents. as fbi director, i hope you will continue to support the fbi's participation in that effort? >> senator, i gather there's a specific statute that's in place that the fbi has investigated jurisdiction to enforce. and we would zealously investigate all criminal violations, including the ones under that statute. >> there are criminal statutes, and i appreciate your commitment. thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. senator honore, finally. >> thank you very much for your patience. and it's good to see you again. i certainly strongly support ranking member feinstein's efforts to work with chairman grassley to assert the committee's jurisdiction over the investigation into russia's interference with our election. in light of recent news, it is
even more important that we hear from attorney general sessions and others to get a public accounting. this committee has an important role to play, as i think you ha have acknowledged, that the investigations are done free of political influence. there's a lot of evidence and concern on the part of this committee why this vacancy for the fbi director occurred. the independence of the fbi and you, should you be confirmed of any political influences. so i do want to return to some questions about russia's interference with our elections, and the continuing position of the president to take seriously the damage to our country, or even accept the conclusions of our intel communities. and you have testified that you accept the conclusions of our intel community that russia did attempt to interfere with our elections. >> as i said, senator, i have
only been able to review the public summary. but i have no reason to doubt the conclusions of the intelligence community. >> probably the nonpublic portions would be even more confirming. the public information as to russia's attempts to interfere with our elections. there's also been testimony not only by former director comey, but others in the community that we can expect russia to continue to interfere with our elections. should you be confirmed, what would you do to prevent this kind of interference? >> i would want to get briefed by the appropriate professionals, both at the fbi and in other parts of the intelligence community on what we know about how any nation state, whether it's russia or any other nation state, is attempting to, or has attempted to interfere. what are we doing to detect it. how can we be confident that we're taking all the right steps. are there sources of information
that we're not getting, that we need to get access to. so i would need to get briefed up on all those efforts. >> in my meeting with you, you made it very clear that any foreign country's attempts to interfere, particularly one that is an adversary to us, any attempts to interfere with our election is an attack on some very basic premises of our country, our democracy. so you would take this kind of conclusion that russia will continue to interfere as very serious, and that it would be a priority -- >> very seriously indeed, senator. >> okay. there were a number of 101 conversations that i will characterize as improper, or questionable 101 meetings that fbi director comey had with president trump. and you've testified to the concerns that you would have. and you said a number of times
that should that kind of circumstance occur between you and president trump, that you would go to deputy attorney general rosenstein, not to the attorney general sessions. you've said that a number of times during your testimony today. why would you not go to a.g. sessions? >> unless there was something that the attorney general was recused from, i wouldn't rule out talking to the attorney general as well. but the department's organizational chart, the fbi reports to the deputy attorney general, number one. and number two, contacts -- the policy that the department has that governs contacts between the white house and the justice department is -- directs that those kinds of contacts should occur through the office of the deputy attorney general. so that strikes me as the appropriate place to start in those conversations. >> of course, in this instance, attorney general sessions has recused himself from pretty much anything relating to the russia
investigations, correct? >> that's my understanding. but i'm not familiar with the full scope of the recusal. >> yet on the other hand, when deputy attorney general rosenstein sent his memo regarding director comey, there was a letter attached from jeff sessions that recommended to the president that comey be fired. would you consider that appropriate for someone who recused himself from these matters? >> senator, i don't know all the circumstances surrounding director comey's firing. and i know that special counsel mueller is, i believe, investigating that. so probably not responsible for me to speculate. i will say that the attorney general of the united states has authority over the justice department, which covers much more than any single investigation. clearly the attorney general needs to be able to make decisions that affect the whole
institution. obviously if he's recused, he can't participate in a particular investigation. >> well, i would say that the firing of director comey was part and parcel as it turns out of the elections. and that was a circumstance that attorney general sessions was supposed to recuse himself from. now, the attorney general does get briefings on fbi investigations, ongoing fbi investigations, is that correct? >> that's historically been the case. >> so in a case where the attorney general has recused himself, should he be getting briefings on mr. mueller's investigations? >> if i understand your question correctly, senator, anyone who has recused himself from an investigation, whether it's the attorney general or anyone else, shouldn't be getting briefed on that investigation. that specific investigation. >> yes. the answer would be no, that he
should not be getting briefings on the mueller investigations? >> i have no reason to believe that he is. >> okay. i think when you were first asked whether you had met with president trump regarding your nomination, and you said no, but then later you said that you were first contacted about this nomination from -- with deputy director rosenstein, and then you had a subsequent meeting with jeff sessions, and rosenstein, and then you had another meeting at the white house where the president attended. so when you had your initial meeting with deputy a.g. rosenstein, did the subject of comey's firing, did the subject of the mueller investigation come up? did you go in with any kind of seeking of reassurances that should you take this position, you would be free to do your job free from political pressure? >> i did go into my meeting with
deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions, i met with them together, with a number of questions in my mind about wanting to be sure that i knew what i was getting myself into. and was very comfortable with what i heard. there was not a -- sorry, there was not a discussion of comey's firing or of the russian investigation, other than -- other than -- deputy attorney general rosenstein making a comment to the effect that, now that special counsel mueller has been appointed, that situation is more straightforward because there's an investigation going, and special counsel mueller has that. so that the -- so from my perspective, the landscape that i was coming into at that point was different than it would have been without special counsel mueller having been appointed. >> so did you come to a
conclusion that you would not probably be having one-on-one discussions about the russian interference with the president as had occurred with director comey? because you had mueller there conducting an investigation? >> yes. >> okay. so that you were assured, or reassured that you would be able to do your job? >> i was very comfortable i would be able to do my job after that meeting, yes. >> at the time that you had a meeting with jeff sessions and deputy director rosenstein, did you indicate to them that should you get the job, that you would very much support the mueller investigation? >> i did not discuss the russia investigation with them. as i said, other than deputy attorney general rosenstein making the comment that that was now in place, it would make it easier for me to do my job. that was the sum total of that. what i did say to them is, i
would approach -- much as i've said to this committee, the way i would approach this job is with independence, straight and by the book. >> so considering that the president was very focused on the russia investigation and basically i think his position is he said he hoped it would go away, when you met with the people at the white house, and i'm not sure exactly who was there, but the president was there, did the question of the mueller investigation come up? or had the russian investigation come up at all? >> no, not at all, senator. >> did you think that was odd? was it just a hello, good to see you kind of meeting that you had at the white house? >> i mean, i would describe it as a pleasant conversation. i did not think it was odd that the president nor anybody else didn't raise with me the conduct of a specific investigation, because i would not have expected them to do that. >> i know that i'm running out of time, so i would want to get into a second round. so thank you very much. >> people do want a second
round. in fact, i'm going to start the second round right now. i think we have at least one republican that hasn't had the first round. >> oh, so thank you, mr. chairman. >> you'll have another opportunity. >> thank you. >> i want to ask you about section 702. it provides government the authority to collect electronic communications of foreigners located outside of the united states, with the assistance of the american electronic communication service providers. it's an authority used only for counterterrorism. but counterintelligence purposes as well. this is an authority that privacy and civil liberties oversight board -- and i won't finish this paragraph -- but a lot of people say it's very essential. so i go to you, deputy director to be, one of your key responsibilities will be overseeing investigations of threats to national security. your predecessor repeatedly affirmed his support for the value of 702 as a national
security tool. so just in a very general way, could you tell us whether reauthorization of section 702 will remain important to the fbi under your leadership, and also whether the fbi under your leadership will make sure that it uses this national security authority with proper training, execution, oversight, to comply with the law and protect the fourth amendment rights? >> well, senator, it's been a number of years since i had anything to do with fisa, although i did deal with it a certain amount when i was in the government before. of course, section 702 was passed after i had left government. but from everything i understand, from the public comments of people in the intelligence community, 702 is a vital tool, and one that we need to put a high priority, and that i would expect to place a high priority on seeking reauthorization on. my understanding as to the second part of your question, is
that there are a number of oversight mechanisms built into the statutory framework, both in the executive branch, multiple levels of oversight, in the legislative branch, and the court, the fisa court itself. i think that's appropriate and i would look for ways to ensure that the tool was used appropriately. >> okay. i want to talk about leaks. the fbi's often failed to answer this committee's questions. but yet the same information gets leaked to the media, or produced in the freedom of information act. is it appropriate for the fbi to ignore requests from this committee and provide the same information to the media in a third-party litigation? if not, what will you do to ensure that this committee's request will receive? and i asked the same question of comey, his last oversight here a couple of weeks before he left the directorship. and i said, how do you justify
citizen grassley using foya information, getting more information than senator grassley can get? and he said, i can't tell you why. and i said, yegawds. often the letters that we send for information, we read about foya getting it and read about in the newspaper before we get an answer to our letters. >> well, senator, as we discussed in our meeting in your office, i think it's obviously important for the fbi, working with the department's help, and approval, to be as responsive as possible to this committee, and especially, of course, to its chairman. i'm not familiar with the particular circumstances surrounding foia productions of any of these materials. i agree with you that that strikes me just listening to you describe it as an odd situation
to put it mildly. >> i want -- i don't expect you to respond to this next question with anything about mr. mccabe, but i use mr. mccabe as an example. as i note in my opening statement, the department refused to provide an unredacted copy of mr. mccabe's recusal memo. and the deputy attorney general has failed to explain to this committee what he's doing to deal with the conflict of interest. in a general manner, do you think it is appropriate for any fbi official to participate in a criminal investigation of someone who is an adverse witness in a pending eeo proceeding, and if not, what would you do if confirmed to assure that that does not happen on your watch? >> well, senator, mr. chairman, i -- obviously i want to make sure i understand the facts appropriately. i think that one of the first things i would do upon being confirmed is try to take stock of the situation with the senior
leadership and try to understand better the circumstances. there is, of course, inspector general investigation into acting director mccabe's conduct. and i know mr. chairman, your own strong support for the inspector general function is well known. and i obviously would want to respect that and not comment here out of school. >> okay. i'm going to put some letters in the record. again, in support for you. from various law enforcement organizations. and they support your appointment. and it's the law enforcement community at large who support it strongly. fbi agents association, atlantic division, society of former special agents of the fbi, national fraternal order of police, the national association of police organizations, international association of chiefs of police, major county
sheriffs of america, the association of straight criminal investigative agencies, and the national narcotic officers association coalition, and the national fusion center association, all be entered into the record without objection, they will be. senator klobuchar? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you. it looks like we're nearing an end here. but i did want to mention not just the letter of support that senator grassley just mentioned, but also the earlier one had former u.s. attorneys from all over the country supporting you. i thought that was very impressive. and included our former republican appointed u.s. attorney in minnesota, as well as our recent democratic appointed attorney in minnesota. i want to commend you for that. just a few follow-up questions. the first is opioids. i don't know that that has come up. and it's an epidemic, would be a
mild way of phrasing what's going on. in my state, we've lost everyone from superstar like prince to swimming star from our high school swimming team. we've actually had more people die from opioid overdoses in minnesota than we have from homicide, or than we have from car crashes. and you and i talked earlier about the bills that i have, to make it easier to go after some of the synthetic drugs from a law enforcement standpoint, and then also, of course, the work that we have done, senator whitehouse, portman, and others, and myself have done leading the bill to set a national framework. now it's time to implement it, everything from treatment to better sharing the data across state lines so that we can monitor prescriptions, and share that data. i just wondered from an fbi perspective, if you could give any views you have on this epidemic? >> senator, i strongly agree that it's a major, major problem
that's not only sweeping this country, but seems to be getting worse all the time in a lot of states. and it sounds like including in minnesota. i think that an awful lot of the effort in this area from a federal law enforcement perspective would probably be for the drug enforcement administration. but i do think the fbi should look for ways to partner with other federal agencies and state and local law enforcement to figure out how it can contribute what it can uniquely contribute to a multi-disciplinary assault on the problem. >> as you know, sex trafficking and human trafficking as a whole has been very important to me. senator cornyn and i passed the bill that sets out a federal effort, and both of the former attorney generals as well as deputy attorney general yates who was actually -- worked on these cases i know in atlanta,
been involved in this. and the fbi has been an important part of the efforts to end trafficking with the innocence lost national initiative that began in '03. operation cross-country which focuses on underage victims was successful in rescuing 82 children, and arresting 239 traffickers during its last cycle, ending last october. i understand it's been an important issue for you, and you've done some pro bono work to help trafficking victims. can you tell us more about your work and how you intend to carry this out if you are -- come into the directorship? >> thank you, senator. as we discussed, this is an issue that you and i both feel very passionately about. when i was in the criminal division, one of the things that we did towards the end of my tenure was recognizing the increase in human trafficking, and the multi-disciplinary --
again, i use that word -- nature of the problem. we're bringing together both, sort of the child exploitation side of it. there's an immigration side of it, an alien of it. there's an organized gang activities side of it. there is in response to questions that you asked earlier in a different context there's a financial side of it. and so i think it needs to be sort of coordinated effort. it's incredibly vulnerable population that has subject to enormous leverage by the bad guys. and one of the, as you mentioned, one of the pro bono things that i'm most pleased of and i'm looking forward to hearing my firm take to the next level after i've left is an effort focused on helping human trafficking victims who don't get really any serious help in our system. and i was really excited to see the young lawyers in our firm
kind of get fired up to go see how they can be helpful. it's a different kind of pro bono work than i think a lot of firms do. and i think it's a great thing. >> thank you. >> senator klobuchar's going to shut down this meeting after senator huron is done unless somebody on my side comes, so i'm going to go do a news conference, not about you, but just a general one. and that i do every day -- or every wednesday at 2:00, so i want to congratulate you. and as i said originally, i think i said, we expect to move this along and get this position filled very quickly. and i think your testimony today helps us do that. and i want to compliment your family and your friends for being here with you. and thank you, senator klobuchar. senator hrono. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
can you tell us who was there from the administration -- >> i had two meetings. the first was the president, the vice president, the white house counsel and then a couple people from the justice department. the second meeting was the president, the president's chief of staff, the white house counsel and, again, some people from the department including deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. >> when was the first meeting, do you recall? >> the first meeting was the day after memorial day. it was publicly reported, as i understand it. >> and neither one of these meetings did the issue of the russia investigation, mueller or the comey firing came up? >> correct. >> so what did the president say to you in the first meeting? and what did he say to you in the second meeting? >> both meetings, senator, were
very conversational about my bio, my background. i talked about my commitment in the war on terror, my experiencing from having been in the department before. i would describe it more of a kind of get to know you conversation in both instances. >> but knowing how strongly you believe that the fbi should be free to investigate free from political influence, et cetera, at that time did you express any of that kind of a strong commitment to the independence of the fbi at either one of these two meetings to anybody at these meetings? >> in the white house meetings? >> yes. >> i may have at some point repeated the line i told you about a few minutes ago about my commitment to playing it straight. that's my approach. words to that effect. but it wasn't really in context called for.
i would say, senator, that i went into both meetings listening very carefully to make sure that i didn't hear something that would make me uncomfortable. having gotten a high level of confidence in both deputy attorney general rosenstein who i've known since 2001 and attorney general sessions in that meeting that i had, i was then focused more in the white house meetings on making sure that i didn't hear something that i would consider problematic. and i can assure you that if anything had been said that made me remotely uncomfortable, i would not be sitting here today providing testimony in support of my nomination. >> so definitely things like expectation of loyalty to the president, that would have been a red flag for you? >> i was not asked to take any kind of loyalty oath. >> but that would have been the kind of thing that you would have been highly sensitive to listen for. >> correct. >> and that did not happen. >> that did not happen. >> let me turn to we have an
administration that has talked about a muslim registry, various -- well, muslim registry for example, would you go along with something like that? talked about, you know, surveilling mosques, creating a muslim registry, as fbi director would you go along with such a scheme? >> well, senator, i don't know enough about the specific proposals or plans that anybody's talking about. i would say that my commitment on these issues would be the same as it would be on anything else, which is faithful to the law, faithful to the constitution and faithful to the best practices of the fbi and the department. and as i said, i think in response to senator durbin, my experience with terrorism matters is that we need the cooperation of the muslim american community and that a
lot of the leads in some of the most important investigations that law enforcement has obtained has been from those people. and so i think the fbi director needs to be an fbi director for all americans. >> so any kind of a program that would -- individuals based on their religion would raise some concerns for you that you would ask some quite specific questions, i would say, right? because it's a foundational religious freedom and not racial profiling, are those areas that as fbi director you would be particularly sensitive about moving forward on any kind of programs that would treat different groups, particularly minority groups in any kind of a discriminatory way? >> senator, needless to say, discrimination is abhorrent and not something that i would condone. i would want to pay particularly close attention to any program that seemed to raise those kinds
of concerns. and as i mentioned on the issue of religious freedom, which is something that's always been very important to me, as i said one of the cases that was one of the more meaningful cases i ever did as a line prosecutor was a case where churches all around the country were being burned down precisely because of hostility to a particular religion. which is obviously unacceptable. >> so, hate to interrupt, but -- oh, i seem to be over my time. i know that if you don't mind, madame chair, your firm has represented various individuals who have interests to the russian energy interests, et cetera. and so i'll probably submit -- i will submit a question as to whether any investigations that would involve clients of what will probably be your former law firm should you take this position, how you would handle any conflict issues regarding those kinds of circumstances? and i'll also submit some questions relating to hate
crimes because as we mentioned in my meeting with you that there is a rise in hate crimes and what the fbi can do, should do to counter, prevent hate crimes. thank you, madame chair. >> thank you very much. mr. wray, senator durbin is going to join us. so now you and i are going to be engaged in a little filibuster. oh, and he's here. i have some follow-up questions. while he's sitting down, i did want to -- this question i asked you really quickly about the shell companies and the use of shell companies. i just want to explain it and you answered it fine, but it's a very big deal to me because the treasury department has noted a significant rise in the use of shell companies in real estate transactio transactions. it could be any country, i used it in the context of russia. and i raise this with director comey when he testified last time and just about -- and your
experience with white collar cases, does the anonymity associated with the use of shell companies to buy real estate hurt the fbi's ability to trace the flow of illicit money and fight organized crime? >> certainly, senator, those kinds of maneuvers, the creation of shell companies and things like that are unfortunately an all-too-common way that criminals and others try to circumvent detection, and so certainly i would think that the fbi needs to work with its partners in law enforcement, especially the treasury department to, as i said, follow the money. and sometimes that's easier said than done, but i think that's a critical step to trying to prevent and disrupt and not just detect after the fact criminal conduct. >> thank you very much. senator durbin. >> thank you. i know this has been a long ordeal for you, but i think it's
coming to an end. let me just try to ask two or three questions. to nail down this torture memo issue. i want to follow-up on what you said earlier about your role in approval of interrogation techniques, which we also discussed in my office. you said that during your time the deputy attorney general's office you don't recall reviewing or commenting on any memo written by john ewe. you also said you, quote, provided general information and legal support, closed quote, regarding the legal standards for interrogation. i want to ask you about one specific memo and i'm going to send it down to you and i want you to have a chance to see it if you haven't, it was dated december 2004. this memo replaced the august 2002 binding memo. it says the criminal division reviewed and approved it -- specifically says it, criminal division department of justice reviewed this memorandum and concurs in the analysis of forth
below. here's the key point, in the footnote on the memo indicates that under the new analysis all of the torture techniques that were approved under the memo like waterboarding would still be legal under the new memo. in other words, nothing changed. and it says that expressly had the approval of your division. do you recall reviewing and approving that memo? >> i do not recall approving -- reviewing and approving that memo. but what i do recall is that we provided -- we drew a line about what the criminal division's appropriate role was. that the criminal division should be consulted on the general meaning of the statute, what the elements are, how you define what the elements are. what i did not think was appropriate role for the criminal division, and so we did not review and approve or bless
is approve of particular interrogation techniques, and that was because even at the time, i believe, we were already starting to investigate in one case which led ultimately to prosecution cases where techniques went too far. and i did not think it was appropriate for the criminal division to be setting interrogation policy or providing legal advice on a going forward basis. >> the memo does not make that distinction. it simply says the criminal division of department of justice concurs in the analysis set forth below which goes into detail in terms of techniques and interrogation techniques. in the footnotes -- well, i want to give this to you because i want you to take a look at it. i'm not trying to stump you here. take a look at it and see if you can put it in context for me. tell me if i'm missing something about this. but it appears that this did go through your division and i want to hear after you've had a chance to look at it, if you wouldn't mind, if you would
respond and let me know. >> okay. >> is that fair? two other things, you worked with u.s. attorney chris christie? >> when i was assistant attorney general, yes, he was the u.s. attorney in new jersey. >> and you were part of the bristol myers squibb settlement? >> that i don't think so, i was aware of the investigation. i think it's possible that the settlement may have occurred after i had left the criminal division. >> okay. that's what i wanted to know. the last part i want to ask you about relates to the obstruction of justice, which i think you've in a 2004 speech about prosecuting corporate fraud, you urged severe penalties for obstruction of justice and you said, quote, lying to government investigators, obstructing our investigation needs to be seen as one of the surest paths to severe consequences, end of quote. do you believe that obstruction
of justice by government officials should be treated similarly? >> i think obstruction of justice whether it's committed by a senior corporate executive or a guy in the mail room or a government official needs to be treated very seriously. >> in the early enron cases that you were involved in, they are exceptional in that people went to jail. executives went to jail. and then for some reason or another the department of justice lost its stomach for that and stopped sending people to jail. to me that is a category of injustice, which i hope we will rectify. i don't have great hope, but i hope we will rectify in the future if there's wrongdoing that harms so many people. would you comment on that particular aspect of prosecution. >> happy to, senator. i feel very strongly that when one is investigating companies, that we need to look at the people, the individuals in the
company who may have engaged in wrongdoing, because companies act through people. and i think one of the things that we did effectively with the enron task force and in a number of other corporate fraud prosecutions during that era was show that we were willing to follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead all the way to the very top of the house. and in the enron case in particular, as you know, as you commented on, we brought cases against -- essentially the entire c suite of the company. obviously we have to have the facts and the evidence and the law to support it. we can't succumb to mob rule or anything like that, but i think we need to be sure, and i think that is the way i view the fbi's mission so to follow the facts and the law wherever they lead to whomever they may lead even if people don't like it. >> that's fair. thanks for your patience today. i'm going to send this memo down to you so you can have a chance to take it with you.
thanks, madame chair. >> thank you. >> thank you. well, thank you very much, mr. wray. i think you can finally get some lunch here. i wanted to thank you and to make sure you know that you have a lot of support here. i am going to be supporting you as number of my colleagues are. i think your answers earlier explaining your opposition to torture of any kind was very important. when senator feinstein asked you those questions. i also think that the answers that you gave to many of the senators about the independence of the fbi was very compelling and heartfelt. and that meant a lot because i don't have to tell you that you're coming in at a time that is unprecedented where you've had the director of the fbi fired, the then-acting attorney general a few months ago fired, and as someone that's been in law enforcement and believes
that law enforcement has to have people that are in charge, that are follow the law and care about the law and believe in our democracy more than anything it couldn't be a more important time for you to be coming into this agency. and i think you saw the bipartisan nature of the questions and the respect here has a lot to do with how you've handled it and your experience today, but it also has a lot to do because the senators here know how important this job is right now. so i want to thank you for your time. and we are going to leave the record open until friday. if senators have further questions. and i am pleased to say this hearing is adjourned. thank you. >> thank you, senator.