tv Senators Express Frustration Over National Security Officials Answers on... CSPAN June 7, 2017 8:06pm-10:42pm EDT
and house intelligence committee as well as the over house -- oversight committee. i am hopeful that at the end of the day, that will ensure the american people that our democracy is sound. pedro: delegate stacey plaskett >> be sure to watch c-span washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern. join the discussion. , a senate c-span
hearing on the foreign intelligence hearing act. later, replacing the dodd frank regulations. of national intelligence and acting director -- fbi director testify on foreign intelligence act. that act is currently set to expire in december. senators brought up news reports about the investigation into russian interference in the 26th teen election. the senate intelligence hearing is two-and-a-half hours.
title vii includes several crucial foreign intelligence collection tools, including one known primarily in section 702. it provides the capability to outside thegners united states. these happen to be routed to and acquired inside the united states. the collection is exceptionally critical to protecting americans at home and abroad. it is integral to our foreign intelligence reporting, leadership plans, counter proliferation, counterintelligence, and many other issues that affect us. it is subject to multiple layers .f oversight the foreign intelligence surveillance court must also
approve of procedures for each relevant agency before the agency can review collective information. at the end of the day, fisa provides us the foreign intelligence that our nation needs to protect americans at home and abroad, and in many cases, our allies. i understand there is a debate. there are arguments within the .ebate that have merit as we painfully know, the intelligence community collection was thrust into the public spotlight following the illegal and unauthorized exposures by former nsa analyst edward snowden. as a result, the united states government and this committee redoubled their efforts to oversee collection authorities which were already subject to historical oversight.
i also think it is fair to say that some entities overreacted following the exposures. congress must justify what courts repeatedly have upheld as a constitutional and lawful authority. i also think it is fair to say that nothing regarding this lawful status has changed since director klapper and attorney general wrote to congress in february 2012 to urge us to pass a reauthorization of fisa. administration followed suit in 2012. what has changed is the intensity, scale, and scope of the threats that face our nation. this is not the time to --dlessly rollback and high handicapped our capabilities. a lot of people talk about the into the russian
investigation. 702 is one of our most effective goals against terrorism. i hope my colleagues and those watching this hearing realized that at the end of the day, our constitutional obligation is to keep america and our citizens safe. the intelligence committee needs this to successfully carry out its mission. it is this committee's obligation to make sure that they have the authority and pulled it needs to keep us safe at home and abroad. stoneman, i look forward to your testimony and continued efforts to maintain the integrity of this vital election pool. -- tool. >> thank you mr. chairman. a key for hosting this hearing on the important program. i will get to that in the moment.
given the panel of witnesses and aboutthe recent news ongoing investigations into russian interference and our 2016 elections, i will have to take part of my time to pose questions during my question time. each of you here today, have all to defend the constitution. as leaders of the intelligence community, you have provided advice and counsel in a way that is unbiased, impartial, and political -- this is what makes our intelligence committee so impressive. you tell it straight, no matter what political party is in charge. so drying tot is your recent reports of white house officials, perhaps even the president himself, attempting to interfere and in
less power -- enlist our intelligence the leaders in an attempt to undermine the ongoing investigation. tomorrow there is another big hearing. we will be hearing from former director connie -- comey. we have heard that the president himself said that he was thinking about the russian investigation when he fired director comey. individual overseeing that same investigation. today we will have an opportunity that deputy attorney that then -- ask attorney rosenstein about his role in the firing as well you we have seen reports, some as recently as yesterday, that the president has asked at least two of the leaders of our nations intelligence agencies to publicly downplay the russian
investigation. alleged to askas coats tocodes -- intervene with then director comey to pull back on his investigation. asking them about those reports today. true, it wouldis be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence professionals. if true, it could corrode the public trust in our intelligence institutions. over the years i've been on this committee, and prides on its fierce independence. any attempt by the white house or even the president himself to exploit this community as a toll
-- tool for political purposes is deeply disturbing. i understand that under -- answering some of the questions the panel will pose may be the gold or uncomfortable -- difficult or uncomfortable. , i hopees are so high you will also consider all of our obligation to the american people to make sure that they get the answers that they deserve to some any questions being asked. agree that the reauthorization of section 702 is terribly important. the attacks in london, paris, manchester, melbourne, the list goes on. all those attacks have
demonstrated that terrorists continue to plot attacks that target innocent civilians. section 702, under court order, flex intelligence about these selectsl plots -- intelligence about these potential plots to collect intelligence on non-us persons outside the united states, whether there is reasonable suspicion to do us harm. i have been a supporter of reauthorizing section 702 to protect americans from terrorist attacks. i am eager to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that we reauthorize it before the end of this year. a re-authorization of section 702 should ensure that there is robust oversight and restrictions to protect the privacy and civil liberties of americans. those protections remain in
bece and areas that could strengthened, we should look at those as well. i look forward to the hearing. members, say for all votes are no longer scheduled. 1:45.ave been moved to we will reconvene at 2:00 p.m. for a closed session. i intend to start that promptly at 2:00 today. embers will be recognized right seniority for up to the -- members will be recognized by seniority for up to five minutes. you.ank we are pleased to be here today at your request to talk about an important, the most important piece of legislation that affect
the intelligence committee. i am here with my colleagues. i would like to take the opportunity to explain in some -- sectionion 702 702. hopefully the public will be watching. transparency in terms of how we protect the privacy and civil liberties of american citizens. it needs to be explained and understood. i appreciate your patience as i talk through my opening statement about the value of 702 to our intelligence community. produced and continues to produce significant intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international
terrorism, against cyber threats and other threats. at the same time, section 702 forides strong protections the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. attacks thatrrific recently occurred in europe are still at the top of my mind. i was just in europe days before the first attack in manchester, thatwed by other attacks have subsequently taken place. i was in discussion with my ,ritish colleague through this as well as colleagues and other european stations. mice of these go out to the -- mys and families sympathies go out to these victims and families.
having just returned from europe three weeks ago, i am reminded of why section 702 is so important to our mission of protecting american lives and the lives of our friends and allies around the world. enabled many successes by 702 are highly classified, the purpose of the authority is to get the united states communityce the -- powered to avert these kinds of attacks before they transpired. which is why permanently authorization of the fisa amendment act is the intelligence community's top legislative priority. on history, i would urge the congress to enact this legislation at the earliest possible date to give our thelligence professionals consistency they need to maintain our capability.
let me give an example of the pfizer --tion 702 of of fisa. essay -- i just used by an al qaeda courier in pakistan revealed communications with an unknown individual locally did -- located within the united states. that person was urgently seeking advice on how to make explosives. this information to the fbi, which in turn was quickly able to identify the individual. as you know, he and his imminent plans to detonate explosives on manhattan's subway lines. after he and his co-conspirators were arrested, privacy and civil liberties oversight board stated in its report "without the of him and his
plans, which came about by monitoring and overseas foreigner under section 702, the subway bombing plot might have succeeded." this is just one example of many of the impact this authority has had to thwart imminent threats against united states citizens and our friends and allies overseas. since it was enacted nearly 10 -- the fisainds a act has been subject to rigorous and constant oversight by all three branches of government. we regularly report to the intelligence and judiciary committees of both the house and senate how we have implemented the statute. the operational value is extensiveand the measures we take to ensure that the government's use of this authority applies within the
constitution and laws of the united states. two yearsver the past we have engaged in an unprecedented amount of public transparency on the use of these authorities. transparency and because this is a public hearing, allow me to provide an overview of the framework into the reasons why congress amended fisa in 2008. i will then briefly abreast -- address why it needs to be re-authorized and compliance and how we are ensuring and continue to ensure the rights of u.s. citizens. rights that need to be protected. at the outset, i want to stress three things as a backdrop to everything we are presenting today. , it hass i mentioned
produced and continues to produce intelligence that is vital to protect the nation terrorism.ernational there are limitations found within section 702. let me note four of these legal limitations. granted unders 702 may only be used to target foreign persons located abroad or foreign -- for foreign intents and purposes. they may not be used to target u.s. persons anywhere in the world. third, they may not be used to target anyone located in the united states, regardless of their nationality. fourth, they may not be used to target a foreign person when the information acquire on a u.s. person with whom a foreign person is communicating.
it is a prohibition against reverse targeting. we are committed to ensuring that the intelligence community's use of 702 is consistent with the law and the protection and privacy and civil liberties of americans. to that end, in the 10 years since congress enacted the fsa -- faa, there have been no instances of intentional 702.tions of section i would like to repeat that. in the nearly 10 years since congress enacted the amendment to the freedom act, the act that established fisa, there been no instances of intentional violations of section 702. with those points as a backdrop, let me turn to discussion of why it became necessary for congress to enact 702. i do this so that the american
public can better understand the basis for this important law. the foreign intelligence surveillance act was first passed in 1978. creating a way for the federal government to obtain court orders for electronic surveillance of suspected spies, terrorist, foreign diplomats located within the u.s.. when originally enacting pfizer, congress decided that collection against targets located abroad would be outside their regime. factdecision reflected the that people in united states are protected by the fourth amendment. foreigners located abroad are not. congress accomplished this defining electronic surveillance waste on the technology of the time. in the 1970's, overseas communication was predominantly carried by satellite. fisar has passed in 19 --
did not require a court order for these satellite communications. interrupted anasa satellite communication of the known terrorists abroad, no court order was required. i 2008, technology had changed considerably. first female services were being used by people all over the world. second, the overseas communications that in 1978 were typically carried by satellite now being carried by fiber-optic cables, often running through the united states. ifcontinue the same example, in 2008 a foreign terrorist was communicating by using a u.s. based email service, traditional court order was required to compel a u.s. based company to help with the collection. under traditional fisa a court
order can only be obtained on an individual basis by demonstrating to a federal judge that there is probable cause to believe that the target of the proposed surveillance is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power. this has become an ever more difficult and extremely resource intensive process. due to these changes in technology, the same resources of legal process were being used to conduct surveillance on terrorist located abroad, who are not protected by the fourth amendment. by enacting 702 in 2008 and renewing it in 2012, both times with significant bipartisan support, congress corrected this anomaly. it restored the balance of protections established by the original statute.
although i will not go into great detail regarding the legal framework for section 702, i will simply note a few key items. first, the statute requires annual certifications by the attorney general and by the director of national intelligence regarding the categories or foreign intelligence that the intelligence community will require under this authority. the statute requires procedures that set forth the rules by which the intelligence community ensures that only foreign persons abroad are targeted for collection. thirdly, the statute requires minimization procedures protecting u.s. persons information that may be incidentally acquired while targeting foreign persons. finally, each year the final bash the court reviews this package of material to
make sure the government is consistent with the statute and fourth amendment of the constitution. we have publicly released slightly redacted versions of all these documents, including opinion tocent ensure the public has a good understanding of how we use the authority. the government section 702 program has reset the subject to frequent oversight by all three branches of government. the first line of oversight and compliance is within the agencies themselves, whose privateof counsel and liberties office all have a role in the 702 program oversight. incidents ofof the noncompliance reported to my office and to the department of justice are self for ordered by the participating agencies. reported in the
participating agencies. also, we have regular engagements where an extensive reporting to congress about the 702 program. for example, the judiciary descriptionsthe -- and analysis of every compliance incident and certain statistical information, such as the number of intelligence reports in which a known u.s. person was identified. regularlyhe court checks our work through the annual recertification process and through regular interaction on particular incidents of noncompliance. members of the court who are all
appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court represent the best of the best of our judicial committee -- community. they have asked experience and are committed to the cost to national responsibilities of protecting the privacy of u.s. persons. we are particularly proud of our oversight and compliance track record. the audits of the program conducted by the od and i and doj have shown that rates are extremely low, substantially less than 1%. further, i want to invite -- emphasize this. we have never, not once found in --entional violation of this in intentional violation of this program. -- an intentional violation of this program. human beings make mistakes.
none of these mistakes has been intentional. when we do find unintentional errors, we make sure they are reported and corrected. this is an extraordinary record of success diligent men and women of the intelligence can -- community, committed to make sure that their neighbors privacy is protected. with that, i would like to turn to the most recent compliance incident which resulted in a significant change and how the national security agency of its 702portion collection. a recent example of the , nasaght process identified a compliance incident involving queries of u.s. person identifiers in section 702. upstream data refers to when nasa receives an indication
directly -- communications directly from the internet. the court was probably notified. doj worked with nsa to understand the scope and causes of the problem and to identify possible solutions to keep the problem from reoccurring. the incident are publicly available. incident are the publicly available. allow me to briefly state what happened. nasa identified and researched a compliance issue. reported that issue to doj, od and i, and fisa court. delayed the recertification's until the
government was able to correct the issue. nsa determined that a possible solution to the compliance problem was to stop conducting one specific type of upstream collection. we decided that the most effective way to address the court concerns was to stop collecting on this basis. by about collection i'm referring to nsa's ability to collect communications within where the person is referenced within the communication itself. the fisa court agreed with our solution. it approved the program as a whole. is thatm trying to say a compliance issue was identified, and after a great deal of hard work, the department of justice and intelligence community proposed
to the fisa court and effective solution that took the relevant collection costs and benefits into account area the court agreed with the proposed solution. that is how the process works. it works well. before i conclude, i would like to speak loosely about an issue that has been the subject of much public discussion. they have been requests from both congress and the advocacy countity to attempt to the united states persons who have been incidentally required in the course of 702 collection. during my confirmation hearing and a subsequent hearing before this committee, i committed to sitting down with admiral and subject matter experts in the intelligence community to understand why this has been so difficult. within my first few weeks on the job, i visited nsa, discussed admiral rodgers and
technical people, and followed through on my commitment. what i learned was that the nsa extensive experts -- efforts. you know what i mean. really tough efforts. to devise a counting strategy that would be accurate and respond to the question asked. i also learned that it remains infeasible to generate an accurate, meaningful methodology that it can count how often a communication may be incidentally collected under 702. i want to be clear. if communicants are u.s. persons, nsa would be required to conduct significant additional research to determine
whether individuals, who may be of no foreign intelligence interest, are u.s. persons. raises perspective, this two significant concerns. first, i would be asking trained analysts to conduct intense identity verification research on potential u.s. persons who are not targets of an investigation. from a pot -- privacy and civil liberties perspective, i find this an palatable. -- unpalatable. we need continuous and critical intelligence missions. i cannot justify such a
diversion of critical resources the massive critical resources we would need to attempt to reach this without the ability to reach a definite number. i cannot justify that at a time where we face such a diversity of serious threats. decided that if we privacy intrusions were justified, if i had unlimited staff to tackle the problem, we do not believe it is possible to come up with an accurate measurable results. i am aware that the senate meetinge staff will be in a classified session. has had hisers experts address this issue in detail. before i wrap up, i want to provide one final example for .he purposes of today's hearing
to further illustrate the value of section 702. before rising through the ranks to become the second in command isis, he was a high school teacher. his transformation from citizen to terrorists caused the rest -- the u.s. government to offer a reward for information leading to him. it made him a top focus of the nsa's counterterrorism efforts. its ic partners, from 2014 to 2016 was looking for this man. the search was ultimately successful, primarily because of fisa section 702.
based almost exclusively on intelligence activities under section 702, nsa elected a significant body of foreign intelligence about the activities of him and his associates. 702 collection, they found an individual closely associated with him. collection and permitted under section 7022 -- 702 to collect information. over a two your period, in close collaboration with ic partners, nsa produced more intelligence of his associates, including their location. thenas tactical partners
702 collection to and track his movements. ultimately, this collaboration enabled u.s. forces to attempt an apprehension of him and two associates. attempteduring the apprehension effort, shots were fired from his location. u.s. forces returned fire, killing him and the other associates at that location. they confirmed his death. as you can see? section 702 is an extremely valuable tool, one that is subject to a rigorous oversight
written -- me a rigorous oversight program. my call for permanent reauthorization of the fisa imminent act without further amendment. thank you for your patience. we would be willing to be open to your questions. >> thank you director. wrote a letter to the leadership asking congress to pass we authorization of fisa. also urged the same. has the od and i changed at all since the time of february 2012
letter? thenow we strongly support letter in the quest. >> we agree 100%. >> this is the admiral rodgers. since congress first last authorized this in 2012, have there been any instances involving a deliberate or intentional compliance valuation #-- violation? >> not that i am aware of. 's statutory authorities were or be diminished, what would be the impact? i could not be able to re-create the insight on the russian efforts to influence the
2016 election cycle without 702. we could not have produced that level of insight. april 26, 2017 the foreign intelligence surveillance court held we certifications including targeting procedures. they are lawful under crisis statute and the fourth amendment -- fisa statute and the fourth amendment. their communications -- yet others have suggested imposing a fourth amendment requirement on foreigners who are located outside the united states. justice.eally nsa and when imposing such a warned impact our national security cool to protect america -- tools
to protect america? >> yes, it would. in the absence of 702, the everyment of justice, case in which we wanted to obtain foreign intelligence information, we would be required to obtain a court order . we need to be supported by probable cause. the consequent is it would be very time-consuming. these are very thorough investigations. we produce very lengthy documents. we spend a fair amount of our time reviewing standard documents with agents and prosecutors, in which they have determined it is appropriate to seek those orders. --would require a second significant amount of resources and probable cause. probable cause under the constitution, in circumstances where americans are at stake,
that is a relatively higher threshold then we require for foreign intelligence information. it is important that we not apply that for the mimic standard to foreigners that are not in the united dates. -- united states. >> there is a lot of news , much of it inaccurate, saying it is a means of targeting u.s. persons are you you know that targeting u.s. persons is prohibited. as is what is termed reverse targeting. could you explain and clarify reverse targeting prohibition, and what it prevents the ic from targeting and collecting? the law is expressly designed to ensure that we are not using this legal framework as a
capability to target u.s. persons. reverse targeting is the following scenario. say we are interested in generating insight on u.s. person a. we know that we cannot get a fisa warrant. reverse targeting is why do you not target a foreign identity that that person talks to many will get all the insight on that person but bypassed the court process and entire legal structure. >702 reminds us we cannot do that. we cannot use 702 as a vehicle to bypass laws. >> can you clarify for members and the public what is meant by incidental collection? in the statute itself, if you read the law, the statute in knowledge is an execution of this framework, we will encounter u.s. persons.
we call that incidental collections. that happens under two scenarios. number one, 90% of the time we are monitoring two foreign individuals. those entities reference a u.s. person. the second scenario that we encounter, we call incidental collection, we are targeting a valid foreign individual. --t valid for an individual for an individual into having a conversation with the u.s. person. that is not the target of the investigation. we are interested in that foreign target. that scenario happens about 10% of the time. encinal -- incidental collection, you have a procedure in place to minimize that. the law specifically gives us a set of processes that we have to follow.
if we encounter a u.s. person incidentally in the course of our collection, we ask ourselves several questions. number one, are we looking at potential criminal activity? to inform the department of justice and fbi. he makes the determination. we are in intelligence information -- organization. question, is there anything in this conversation that would lead us to believe that we are talking about harming individuals? in that case, we reported -- report it. other than that, unless there is valid intelligence purpose, depending on the authority in the case of 702, we purge the data. we remove it. we do not assess it. we have to purge the data. >> thank you for that. >> i've questions on another matter.
directed at mostly you gentlemen. march, whenthat in director comey testified about the existence of an ongoing fbi investigations into links between the trump campaign ,anager the russian government there were reports in the press that the president separately appealed to you, admiral rodgers, and to you, director , to downplay the russian investigation. now we have additional reports. we want to give you a chance to confirm or deny these that the president separately addressed you, director coats, to intervene with director comey to downplay the fbi investigation. theral rodgers, you draw short straw. i will start with you. ,efore we get to the substance
you have had a very distinguished career. in your experience, would it be in any way typical for a president to ask questions or bring up an ongoing fbi investigation? particularly if that investigation concerns associates and individuals that might be associated with the president's campaign or activities question mark -- activities? >> i will not talk about particulars. followinge the comment. in the three plus years i have been the director of the security agency, to the best of my recollection, i have never been directed to do anything i believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate. during that same period of time,
i do not recall being pressured to do so. >> prior to the incident we are anyg to discuss, was it regular course for a president would ask you to comment or intervene in any investigation? >> in my experience, i will not talk about theoretical today. ask you inpresident to backshape or form off or downplayed the russian investigation? >> i stand by the comment i just made it. >> do you feel those conversations were classified #-- were classified? >> yes, sir. >> i understand your answer. i am disappointed with your answer.
we have facts that there were other individuals that were aware of the call that was made to you, aware of the substance of that call, and that there was a memo prepared because of concerns about that call. i stand by the comments i made to you today. think it will be essential that the other individual that has served our country with great distinction, who is no longer a member of the toinistration has a chance relay his version of those facts . i understand your position. i hope you also understand the enormous need for the american public to know. you have the administration saying there is nothing that. we have these reports but we cannot get confirmation. appeared, you said
"if called before the committee, i will provide them with what i know and what i do not know." i have great respect for you. proud to support your confirmation. he said he would cooperate with in any aspect of the russian investigation. we now have press reports. you can lay them to rest if they are not true. we have press reports of not once, but twice, the president -- statested dates asked you to downplay the russian investigation or directly intervene with director comey. any set the record straight? -- can you set the record straight? >> i responded to a similar question during my confirmation. i do not feel it is appropriate sessiono, and a public
-- in a public session, -- discussed conversation between the president and myself. i stated that before. quote said he would "provide them with what i know or do not know." >> i stand by my previous statement. we are in a public session. i do not feel it is appropriate for me to address confidential information. the information i shared with president has to do with intelligence matters. for intelligence related matters, or any other matters that have been discussed, it is my belief that it is
inappropriate for me to share that with the public. >> i respect all of your service. i understand and respect your commitment to the administration you are serving. we will have to bring forward that mayr individual document some of the fact that took place in conversation between the president and admiral rodgers. i would only ask, as we go forward, this is my final comment. in the public's absolute need to know. they are wondering what is going on. they are wondering what kind of activities -- we see this pattern that without confirmation or denial appears that the president not once, not twice, -- we will hear from director comey tomorrow. this pattern of the president seems to want to interfere or
downplay or halt the ongoing investigation. i hope, as we move forward that you realize the importance the american public deserves. >> i would like to respond to that. you that il, i told testify available to before the committee. i do not think this is the appropriate venue to do this in. of confidential information, relative to intelligence are other matters. i do not feel it is appropriate for me to do that in this situation. secondly, when i was asked yesterday to respond to a piece i was told was going to be in "theand printed washington post" this morning, my response to that was in my
when interacting with the president of the united states or anybody that -- in this administration. i have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship. or in relationship to an ongoing investigation. >> all i can say, director coats, there was a chance here to lay to rest some of these press reports. if the president is asking you to essure, but if he's even asking, to me that is a very relevant piece of information and again, at least in terms of the conversation with admiral rodgers, i think we will get at least some -- another individual's version, but at some point these facts have to come out. >> thank you, senator coats -- director coats and admiral
rodgers for your testimony with all due respect to my colleague from virginia, i think you have cleared up a substantially your direct testimony that you have never been pressured by anyone including the president of the united states, to do something illegal, immoral or anything else. thank you for that. let's go back to section 702 which is what this hearing was supposed to be all about. it's becoming obvious, i think those of us that work in the intelligence community that we're in a different position than europe is. europe is -- they're risks are obviously very high and they're suffering these attacks on a very regular basis and becoming more regular. so let's talk about our collection efforts versus the european collection efforts and particularly as it relates to section 702. and obviously, we here in the
media frequently about spats between us and the europeans regarding intelligence matters but we all know that there is a robust communication and cooperation between our european friends and ourselves. so i want to talk about it in -- i want to talk about 702 in that respect. why don't we start director coats with you and i'll throw it up for anybody else that wants to comment on this. how important is 702, the continuation of the section 702 and it's related parts to doing what we have been doing as far as helping the europeans and the europeans helping us and doing the things that we're doing here in america to see that we don't have the kind of situations that have been recently happening in europe. director coats, start with you. >> having just returned a few weeks ago from major capitals in europe and discussing this very
issue with my counter parts, i throw out the intelligence communities of these various countries, they voluntarily before i could even ask the question expressed extreme gratitude for the ability -- for the information we have been able to share with them relative to threats. numerous threats have been avoid on the basis of collection that we have received through 702 authorities and our notification of them of these impending threats and they have been deterred or intercepted. unfortunately, what has happened just recently, particularly in england, shows that regardless of how good we are, there are bad actors out there that have bypassed the more concentrated
large attack efforts and taken it either through inspiration or direction from isis or other terrorist groups have chosen to take violent action against the citizens of those countries. the purpose of the trip was to ensure them that we would continue to work and share together. their collection activities, capabilities in many cases are good but in some cases lack the ability that we have and so this ability to share information with them that helps keep their people safe also is highly valued by them. but i don't think we should take for granted that just because europe has been the recent target of these attacks, that the united states is safe from that. we know through intelligence that there's plotting going on and we know that there's lone wolf issues and individuals that are taking instructions from
isis through social media or that for whatever reason our copycatting what is happening and so that threat exists here also and let me lastly say that the nations i've talked to many of which have been extremely concerned about violating privacy rights have initiated new procedures and legislation and mandates relatively to getting the intelligence agencies better collection because they think they need it to protect their citizens. >> thank you very much. just a few seconds that i've got left, mr. rosenstein, could you -- could you tell me, please -- we get a lot of pushback from the privacy people and we've now haertd testimony that there's been no intentional violation over the ten years. could you tell the american people what's in store for someone who these guys catch
intentionally misusing 702 since you're the highest ranking member of the department of justice. >> i can assure you, senator, that in the department of justice we treat with great seriousness any allegations or violations regarding classified information so if there were a credible allegation that someone had willfully vie lawsuited section 702 that was in violation of a criminal law, we would prosecutor it. our director mccabe with me shares that commitment. we recognize that we have an obligation to the american people to make sure that these authorities are used appropriately and responsibly, that we comply with the constitution and the laws and the procedures and we're committed to devote whatever resources are required that if there are willful violations people are held accountable for them. >> and this is your commitment and the department of justice's commitment to the american people? >> that's correct. >> senator feinstein? >> thank you, mr. chairman. just a couple of comments on
section 702. it's a program that i support. it's a program that i believe has worked well. it's a big program. it's an important one. it is a content collection program involving both internet and phone communications, so it can raise concerns about privacy and civil liberties. in the year 2016 there were 106,469 authorized targets out of 3 billion internet users. that's the ratio. the question of unmasking has been raised. it's my understanding that 1,939 u.s. person identities were unmasked in 2016 based on collection that occurred under section 702. so my question is going to be
the following and i'll ask it all together and hopefully you'll answer it. i would like a description of the certification process and the use of an ameek cuss. i would like your response to the fact that the question -- the program sunsets after five years about raising that sunset versus no sunset because of the privacy concerns, it's my belief there should be a sunset and the use of an amicus which is currently used as part of the certification process and whether that should be continued and form you'llized so admiral, program's under your aus business. >> the department of justice is going to be smarter on the ameek cuss. would you take that piece?
>> i'm not sure i am smarter. i can tell you this, though, with regard to the question of unmasking and this is actually primary a question not for the department. the department is made by the intelligence agencies if there is a situation where a foreign person has been communicating about an american person and a decision's made whether or not the identity of that american person is necessary in order for that intelligence to be properly used. i think what's important for people to recognize is that's an internal issue. that unmasking is done internally within the cloak of confidentiality within the intelligence community, that's a different issue from leaks. in other words, if somebody's identity is disclosed because it's relevant for intelligence purposes, that's the goal -- >> mr. rosenstein, let me just tell you, i just listen to somebody who should have been known better talking about unmasking in a political sense, that it's done politically and
that of course is not the case and so what i'm looking for is the definition of how this is done and under what circumstances. >> and i think, senator, because that's really a decision made by the ic not by the department it would be appropriate for them to respond to that. >> i can do that. with respect to unmasking, the following criterias apply. first, for the national security agency, we define in writing who has the authority to unmask a u.s. person identity. that is 20 individuals in 12 different positions. i am one of the 20 in one of those 12 positions, the director. secondly, we outline in writing what the criteria that we'll be applied to a request to unmask, in a report, part of our process under 702 to protect the identity of u.s. persons as part of our minimum maization procedures. when we think we need to u.s. a reference person in a report, we
will not use a name or identity. we will say u.s. person one, two, three. that report is then promulgated. some of the recipients of that report will come back to us and say i am trying to understand what i'm reading. can you tell us who is person one or person two? you must make the request in writing. number two, the request must be made on the basis of your official duties, not the fact that you just find this report really interesting and you're just curious. it has to tie to your job and finally, i said two but there's a third criteria and that is the basis of the request must be that you need this identity to understand the intelligence you're reading. we apply those three criteria, we do it in writing and one of those 20 individuals then agrees or disagrees. and if we unmask, we go back to that entity who requested it, not every individual who
received the report, but that one entity who asked for us, we then provide them the u.s. identity and we also remind them the classification of this report and the sensitivity of that identity. by revealing this u.s. person to you, we are doing it to help you understand the intelligence, not, not the, so that you can use that knowledge indiscriminately. >> thank you. >> senator, if i could just add something to that. given the nature of this issue and it's a legitimate question that you've asked. i've talked with my colleagues at nsa and cia, fbi and so forth, and suggesting that we might ask our civil liberties and privacy protection agencies to take a look at this, to see if they're laid out the procedures, are they the right procedures, should we be doing
something different, would they have recommendations that better protected people from misuse of this. so and they've all agreed to do that, so i think it's a legitimate issue to follow-up on. i've talked to the agency heads about doing so and they're willing to do it. >> if i could, i have an internal review that i have directed. given all the attention, given the focus, let's step back and reassess it and let's ask ourselves is there anything that would suggest we need to do something different in the process. >> good, good. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, with your permission, i'd like to more thoroughly ask the first question the senator asked. am me cuss was used in 2015 that decision was made by the court that has the statutorily authority if it believes its appropriate in a particular case so that was was done in 2015. thank you. >> would you feel it would be helpful to make it a part of the regular certification process? >> my understanding, senator, is that the statute permits the court to do it if the court
believes it's appropriate so i believe the court has that authority and i live it to the judges to decide when it's appropriate to exercise that. >> senator rubio. >> thank you all for being here. i understand fully the need of the president of the united states to be able to have conversations with members of the intelligence community that are protected, particularly in a classified setting. i understand the ability of this community to function depends both on its credibility, the work that it's doing is in the natural security interest of the united states and it's importance of its independence that it is not an extension of politics no matter which administration is at play. in the absence of either one of those two things, impacts everything we do including this debate we're having here today and the challenge we have now that while the folks here with us this morning or constraining what they can say, there are people that apparently work for you that are not and are constantly speaking to the media about things and saying things and it puts the congress in a very difficult position because the issue of oversight on both
your independence and on your credibility falls on us and i actually think if what is being said to the media is untrue then it is unfair to the president of the united states and if it is, if it is true, it is something that the american people need to know. we need to know that too in order to conduct our jobs. my questions are geared toward director coats and admiral rodgers. you testified that you have never felt pressured by the president or by anyone to influence any ongoing investigation by the fbi. are you prepared to say that you have never felt -- never been asked by the president or the white house to influence an ongoing investigation? >> senator, i just hate to keep repeating this but i'm going to do it. i am willing to come before the committee and tell you what i know and what i don't know. what i'm not willing to do is to share what i think is confidential information that ought to be protected in an open hearing. and so i'm not prepared to
answer your question today. >> director coats, with the incredible respect i have for, i am not asking for classified information, i am asking if you have ever been asked by anyone to influence an ongoing investigation. >> i understand but i'm not going to go down that road in a public forum. and i also was asked the question if the special prosecutor called upon me to meet with him to ask his questions, i said i would be willing to do that. >> i like-wise stand by my previous comment. >> in the interest of time, has anyone ever asked you now or in the past, this administration or any administration, to issue a statement that you knew to be false. >> for me i stand by my previous statement. i've never been directed to do anything in the course of my three plus years -- >> asked. >> that i felt to be
inappropriate, nor have i felt pressured to do so. >> have you ever been asked to say something that isn't true? >> i stand by my previous statement. >> director coats. >> i do like-wise. >> is any one aware of any effort by anyone in the white house, or elsewhere to seek advice on how to influence any investigation? >> my answer is absolutely no, senator. >> no one has anything to add to that? >> i don't understand the question. >> the question is, are you aware of any efforts by anyone in the white house or the executive branch looking for advice from other members of the intelligence community about how to potentially influence an investigation? >> you talking about me, no. >> no. >> okay. who wants to answer? i'm sorry. >> i'm not sure i understand the question, but if you're asking whether we -- i'm aware of requests to other people in the
intelligence community i am not. >> seeking advice on how it could potentially influence someone, you're not aware of anyone ever saying or reporting that to you? >> no, sir. >> has anyone ever come forward and said i just got a call from someone at the white house asking me what is the best way to influence someone on an investigation? >> i've never received anything. >> i have no direct knowledge of such a call. >> there was an allegation made in one of the press reports and that's why i ask. i'm sorry. >> who does? >> the answer is no, as i understand it, but i'm not sure i'm familiar with the particular media report that you're referring to. >> i'm running out of time. i do want to ask this because this is important. did the nsa routinely and extent civil and repeatedly violate the rules that were put in place in 2011 to minimize the risk of collection of upstream
information? >> have we had compliance incidents, yes. have we reported any one of those to the court, yes. have we reported those to our congressional oversight in congress, yes. have we reported those to the department of justice and the director of national intelligence, yes. >> did under the obama administration was there a significant uptick in efforts on incidents of unmasking from 2012 to 2016? >> i don't know that. i have to take that for the record. >> who would know that? >> we have the data but i don't know that off the top of my head. i couldn't tell you unmasking on a year by year basis for the last five years. i just don't know off the top of my head. >> thank you. >> senator widen. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i've noted the conversations that you've had with my colleagues with respect to the content of conversations that you may have had with the president. my questions a little different. did any of you four write memos, take notes or otherwise record yours or any one else's
interactions with the president related to the russia investigation? >> i don't take any notes. >> let's just get the four of you on the record. >> senator, i rarely take notes. i'm actually taking a few today but i'm not going to answer questions concerning the russian investigation. i think it's important for you to understand -- >> not on whether you wrote a memo. >> i'm not going to answer any questions about the -- >> my time's going to be short. whether you wrote a memo, notes, anything? >> i also am not going to comment on any conversations i may have had or notes taken or not taken relative to the russian investigation. >> and the like-wise, i take the same position. >> director coats on march 23rd you testified to the armed services committee that you were not aware of the president or white house personnel contacting anyone in the intelligence community with a request to drop the investigation into general
flynn. yesterday "the washington post" reported that you had been asked by the president to intervene with director comey to back off of the fbi's focus on general flynn. which one of those is accurate? >> senator, i will say once again, i'm not going to get into any discussion on that in an open hearing. >> both of them can't be accurate, mr. director. mr. director, as recently as april you promised americans that you would provide what you called a relevant metric for the number of law-abiding americans who were swept up in the fisa 702 searches. this morning you went back on that promise and you said that even putting together a sampling, a statistical estimate would jeopardize national security. i think that is a very, very
damaging position to stake out. we'll battle it out in the course of this, because there are a lot of americans who share our view, that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. we can have both and you rejected that this morning. you went back on a pledge and i think it is damaging to the public. now let me -- >> senator, can i answer the question? >> mr. director, my time is short and i want to ask you about one other 702. >> i would like to answer your question. >> briefly. >> what i pledge to you in my confirmation hearing is that i would make every effort to try to find out why we were not able to come to a specific number of collection on u.s. persons. i told you i would consult with admiral rodgers. i told you i would go to the national security agency to try to determine whether or not i was able to do that. i went out there and talked to them. they went through the technical
details. there were extensive efforts on the part of -- i learned on the parts of nsa to try to come to get you an appropriate answer. we were not able to do that. >> director, respectfully, that's not what you said. you said and i woet, we are working to produce a relevant metric, now let me go to my other question. >> but we were not able to achieve it. so working to do it is different than doing it. >> you told the american people that even a statistical sample would be jeopardizing america's national security. that is inaccurate and i think detrimental to the cause of insuring we have both security and liberty. here's my other question, which are trying to sort out -- >> can the witness respond? >> -- who are the targets -- >> apparently not. >> -- who are the targets of a 702 investigation?
director comey gave three different answers in a hearing a month ago and i think it would be very helpful if you would tell us who, in fact, is a target of these investigations? i want to go after serious foreign threats but we don't know as of now with director comey having given three different answers who the targets are, mr. director? >> well, i can't speak for director -- director clapper. targets as i understand are non-u.s. persons, foreign individuals are the targets and 702 is directed and prohibited from directing targets on u.s. persons. >> my time is up. i will tell you, director comey gave three answers. he finally said i could be wrong but i don't think so.
i think it's confined to counterterrorism, to espionage and finally he said he didn't think a diplomat could be targeted. so we need you all in addition to protecting the liberties of the american people to tell us who the targets are. >> i would like to respond to that by saying some of those targets are classified, highly classified. >> i understand that. >> some of those targets by revealing the names of those targets released the methods that we use and then is turned against us and could cost the lives or put some of our agents in significant -- >> director comey listed a number of targets which is why there's confusion. he said that on the record. we need you to tell us on the record as well consistent with protecting sources and methods. >> senator collins? >> thank you, mr. chairman. director coats, first let me thank you for a very cogent explanation of section 702 and
the fact that it cannot be used to target any person located in the united states whether or not that person is an american. i think there's a lot of confusion about section 702 and i appreciate your clear explanation. >> thank you. >> this morning. i have a question for each of you that i would like to ask and i want to start with the admiral rodgers. admiral rodgers, did anyone at the white house direct you on how to responded to or to -- were there discussions of executive privilege? >> have i asked the white house -- is it their intent to invoke executive privilege, yes. the answer i gave you to today reflects my answer. >> director coats. >> my answer is exactly the same. >> deputy attorney general rosenstein? >> i have not had any
communications with the white house about invoking executive privilege today. >> director mccabe? >> i have not had any conversations with the white house about executive privilege today either. >> admiral rodgers, in january the fbi, the cia and nsa jointly issued and intelligence committee assessment on russian involvement in the presidential elections. you've testified today that the ic relied in part on 702 authorities to support it's conclusion that the russians were involved in trying to influence the 2016 elections. can you provide us with an update on nsa's further work in this area? >> in terms of the russian efforts? >> yes, ma'am. >> we continue to focus an
alicic insight on what the russians are doing, u.s. processes like elections. we continue to generate insights on a regular basis, if my memory is right i testified before the open threat assessment and in that hearing which i think was the 11th of may i reiterated we continue to see the similar activity that we identified and highlighted in the january report. those trends continue, much of that activity continues. >> it's my understanding that president obama requested the report that was issued in january. is that correct? >> yes, ma'am, he asked for a consolidated single input from the ic as to the question did the russians or did they not attempt to influence the u.s. election process. >> so could you explain the difference between the requests from president obama for that unclassified assessment and the
allegations that president trump requested that you publicly report on whether or not there was any intelligence that concerning collusion between the russians and the members of the trump campaign, president trump's campaign? >> i apologize i guess i'm confused bill the question. i'm not going to comment on any interactions with the president. i just don't feel that that is appropriate. as i previously testified, i stand by that report. >> let me ask a broader question that i truly am trying to get a handle on and that is how does the intelligence community reach a decision on whether or not to comply with the requests that comes from the president of the united states? obviously you report to the president of the united states and i'm interested in what process you go through to decide
whether or not to undertake a task that's been assigned by the president, by any president? >> so, off the top of my head, we comply unless we have reason to believe that we are being directed to do something that is illegal, immoral or unethical. we will not execute that. >> thank you. >> senator hine drik? >> director mccabe, did director comey ever share details of his conversations with the president with you in particular did director comey say that the president had asked for his loyalty? >> sir, i'm not going to comment on conversations the director may have had with the president. i know he's here to testify in front of you tomorrow. you'll have an opportunity to ask him those questions -- >> i'm asking you did you have that conversation with director comey. >> and i responded i'm not going to comment on those conversations. >> why not? >> for two reasons.
first, the as i mentioned i'm not in a position to talk about conversations that director comey may or may not have had with the -- >> i'm not asking you that. i'm asking about conversations that you had with director comey. >> i think that those matters also begin to fall within the scope of issues being investigated by the special counsel and wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on those today. >> so you're not invoking executive privilege and obviously it's not classified, this is the oversight committee, why would it not be appropriate for you to share that conversation with us? >> i think i'll let director comey speak for himself tomorrow in front of this committee. >> we certainly look forward to that but i think you're unwillingness to share that conversation is an issue. director coats, you've said as well that it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the president asked for your assistance in bluntsing the russian investigation. i don't care how you felt, i'm not asking whether you felt pressured.
i'm simply asking did that conversation occur. >> and once again, senator, i will say that i do believe it's inappropriate for me to discuss that in an open session. >> you realize and obviously this is not releasing any classified information you realize how simple it would be to simply be to say no, that never happened? why is it inappropriate, director coats? >> i think conversations between the president and myself are for the most part -- >> you seem to apply that standard selectively. >> no, i'm not applying it selectively. i'm just saying i don't think it's appropriate -- >> you can clear an awful lot up -- >> i don't share with the general public conversations that i have with the president or many of my colleagues within the administration that i
believe are -- should not be shared. >> i think you're unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. >> it's not a matter of unwillingness, senator, it's a matter of how i share and with whom i share it to and when there are ongoing investigations, i think it's inappropriate to involved -- >> you don't think the american people deserve to know the answer to that question. >> i think the investigations will determine that and you're part of the investigation. >> mr. rosenstein, did you know when you wrote the memo that was used as the primary justification for firing director comey that the administration would be using it as the primary justification? >> senator, i know you're aware, there are a number of documents associated with me that are in the public record. the memorandum i wrote concerning director comey is in the public record. the order appointing the special counsel is in the public record. the press release i issued accompanying that order is in the public record and a written
version of the statement that i delivered to -- >> were you aware that the primary justification for his firing? >> pardon me, 100 united states senators and 535 congressman is in the public record. i answered many -- >> but you're not answering this question. >> as i explained in those briefings, senator, i support mr. mccabe on this. we have a special counsel who is investigating now responsible for the russian -- >> at this point you filibuster better than most of my colleagues so i'll move on to another question and say that given that the president stated that the fbi director that his firing was in response to investigations into russia which he made very clear in lester holt's interview, you've talked with both the president and the attorney general about this firing. in light of mr. sessions recusal, what role did the attorney general play in that firing and was it appropriate for him to write the letter that
he wrote in this case? >> i'm not trying to filibuster, senator. i think i only took about 30 seconds but i am not going to comment on that matter. i'll leave it to special counsel mueller to determine if that's within the scope of his investigation and i believe that's appropriate for mr. mccabe and me to do that -- >> you can't comment on recusal and what's inside and outside the scope of that recusal -- >> we ought to let the witness answer the question, mr. chairman. >> second the motion. >> i'm sorry your specific question is what's in the recusal and my understanding is the recusal you're referring to is also in the public record and i believe it speaks for itself. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> senator blunt. >> director mccabe on may the 11th when you were before this committee, you said that there has been no effort to impede the russian investigation, is that still your position? >> it is but let me clarify,
senator. i think you're referring to the exchange that i had with senator rubio and my understanding, at least my intention in providing that answer was whether or not the firing of director comey had had a negative impact on our investigation and my response was then and is now that the fbi investigated and continues to investigate and now of course under the rubric of the special counsel the russian investigation in a appropriate and unimpeded way. before director comey was fired and since he's been gone. >> i think i recall that conversation it was a discussion about whether there were plenty of resources, wlg the funding was adequate and what you were reported to have said. i haven't looked at the exact transcript. was that you were aware of no effort to impede the russian investigation? >> we did talk about resource issues and whether or not we had asked for additional resources to pursue the investigation. i believe my response at the
time was we had not asked for additional resources and that we had adequate resources to pursue the investigation. that was true then. it's still true today. >> and you would characterize your quote, as no effort to impede the russian investigation as still accurate? >> that's correct. >> on the 702 issue, when the fbi wants to -- wants to follow-up on or pursue a u.s. person in or outside the united states, what court do you go to to get that to happen? do you go to the fisa court as well? >> if we are collection under 702? >> no. if you're -- how do you relate to 702? do you ever seek collection under 702? >> sure, yes we do. let me step back, just a minute. when the fbi seeks electronic surveillance collection on a u.s. person we go to the fisa
court and get a title 1 fisa order to do so. if we have an open full investigation on a foreign person in a foreign place and the collection is for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence, we can nominate that person or the selector whether it's an e-mail address, we can nominate that for 702 coverage. we convey that nomination to the nsa and they pursue the coverage on their authority. >> but you would be the person that would pursue coverage for a u.s. person either here or outside the united states? >> that's correct, senator. >> you would be the fbi. >> we are the u.s. person agency, that's right. >> and admiral rodgers, senator feinstein mentioned that last year 1,139 u.s. persons were -- the phrase we're using now -- unmasked for some purpose. is that a number you agree with?
>> it's in the 2016 generated transparency report. the member is 1,934. >> i misheard but -- what would the number have been in 2015. >> to be honest i don't know. i'd have to take that one for the record. i do know that we didn't start with the transparency commitment that we made partnering with the d&i. we didn't start that until the latter part of 2015, so the 2015 data that's blushed is a matter of public record. 2016 is the first calendar year where we have published all the data. >> i don't recall what it was and i just asked my staff. >> what i'm asking and we can -- you can take this for the record is was there an increase in 2016? did you have significantly more requests based on your subset in
'15 happen in '16 than you had had before -- >> i don't know if offer the top of my head. i will say this 702 collection has continued the amount of total collection has increased generally every year. it's more and more impactful for us. it generates more and more value. >> when 702 generates information that would indicate there was a u.s. person involved in criminal activity, what do you do with that information? >> if we -- we report it to either to doj or the fbi. >> what do you do if you get that information, mr. rosenstein, information from a 702 collection that clearly indicates there's a crime involving a u.s. person. >> i hesitate only because that i would defer to the fbi. >> we take that referral and if that's a u.s. person we begin to build an investigation aiming
towards title 1 fisa collection. >> with adequate protections for u.s. persons and that entire chain of transmission of material. >> of course. that's right. >> thank you, chairman. >> senator cain. >> first on 702 like senator feinstein i want to express my support for this important tool for our intelligence agencies. i do have a concern which we can discuss perhaps in closed session about the process by which american names which are dinlly collected are then queried. i am concerned about queried and search and where we run into the fourth amendment. it strikes me at boot strapping to say we collected it legally under 702 and we can go and look at these american persons and i believe that the fourth amendment imposes a warrant requirement in between that step which is not present in the
present process. we can discuss that at greater length. mr. mccabe, i'm puzzled by your refusal to answer a question of dr. comey. what's your basis to refuse to answer that question? >> i can't sit here and tell you whether or not those conversations that you're referring to -- >> why not? do you not remember them? >> i don't know whether a conversations along the lines that you've described fall within the purview of what the special counsel is now investigating. >> is there some prohibition in the law that i'm not familiar with that you can't discuss an item that you've been asked directly a question. >> it would not be appropriate for me to discuss issues that are potentially within the purview of the special counsel's investigation. >> and that's the basis of your refusal to answer this question. >> yes, sir and that and knowing of course that director comey will be sitting -- >> it's your position that the special counsel's entitled to ask you question about this but not an oversight committee of
the united states congress? >> it is my position that i have to be particularly careful about not stepping into the special counsel's lane as they have now been authorized -- >> i don't understand why the special counsel's lane takes precedence over the lane of the congress? can you explain that distinction? why does special counsel get deference and not this committee? is there some legal basis for that distinction? >> i would be happy to take that matter back to discuss it more fully with my general counsel and the department -- >> on the record i would like a legal justification for your refusal to answer equity today because i think it's a straightforward question. it's not involving discussions with the president, it's involving discussions with mr. comey. dr. coats and admiral rodgers, i think you testified that you did discuss today's testimony with someone in the white house? >> i said i asked did the white house intend to invoke executive
privileges associated with any interactions between myself and pt president of the united states. >> and what was the answer to that question? >> to be honest i didn't get a definitive answer and both myself and the d&i are answering. >> why are you not answering these questions? is there an invocation of executive privilege? >> not that i'm aware of -- because i feel it's inappropriate. >> what you feel isn't relevant, admiral? what you feel isn't the answer? the question is why are you not answering the question, is an invocation of executive privilege? if there is let's know about it. if there isn't let's answer the question. >> i've stand by the comments i've made. i'm not interested in repeating myself, sir. and i don't mean that in a coninterrogation way. >> well i do mean it in a coninterrogation way. when you were confirmed before the armed services committee you took an oath. do you solemn swear to give the
kmeel the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth you answered yes to that. >> it's not appropriate in an open forum to discuss those aclassified conversations. >> what is classified about whether or not you should intervene in the fbi investigation. >> i stand by my previous comments. >> mr. coats, same series of questions. what's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today? >> the basis is what i previously explained. i do not believe it is appropriate for me to -- >> what's the basis? i'm not satisfied with i do not believe it's appropriate or i do not feel i should answer. you swore that oath to tell us the truth. the whole truth and nothing but the truth and today you are refusing to do so. what is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee? >> i'm not sure i have a legal basis, but i'm more than willing to sit before this committee
during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your question. >> we'll be having a closed session in a few hours, do you commit to me that you'll answer these questions in a direct and incumbent way? >> that closed session you'll have in a few hours goes over the technicalities and doesn't involve us. >> when you are before this committee in a closed session, you will answer these questions directly and without hesitation? >> i plan to do that, but i do have -- i do have to work through the legal counsel at the white house relative to whether or not they'll exercise executive -- >> admiral rodgers, will you answer these questions? >> like-wise respond as the dni has. i do have to acknowledge because of the sensitive nature and executive privy need to be talking to the general council
in the white house. i hope we come to a position where we can have this dialogue. >> both of you testified you had never been pressured under three years. i would argue that you have waived executive privilege by in effect testifying as to something that didn't happen and i believe you opened the door to these questions and it is my belief that you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today. thank you, mr. chairman. >> before i turn to senator lankford, let me say that the vice chairman and i have had conversations with acting attorney general rosenstein when special counsel was named and as i had shared with the members of this committee prior to that, that as we carried out an investigation, there would come a point in time either with the investigation that was currently ongoing at the fbi or if there was a special counsel what the
special counsel where there would be avenues that this committee could not explore and it was my hope that already the vice chair and i would've had that conversation with the special counsel. we have not. we've made the request. we intend to have it and i think that both of us anticipated that we would reach this point at some point in the investigation. we are there where there are some things that will fall into the special counsel and or an ak active investigation. >> let me just say, at this point, we've not had that conversation with mr. mueller. we've not been waived off on any subject and the way i'm hearing all of you gentlemen is that mr. mueller has not waived you off from answering any of these
questions, is that correct? >> i've had no conversations with mr. mueller. i've been out of the country for the last nine days. >> have any of you -- because if you've not had questions waived off with mr. mueller, i think frankly and i understand your commitment to the administration, but senator king, senator heinrich and my questions deserve answers and at some point the american public deserves full answers. >> i'm going to ask mr. rosenstein to address that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm sensitive to your desire to keep our answers brief and my full answer which will very lengthy. but my brief answer from my perspective with the department of justice, and mccabe also, our default position is when there's a justice department investigation we do justice dep investigation, we do not discuss it publicly. that's our default rule. >> is that the rule for the president of the united states, as well? >> i don't know what -- >> because that is what the questions are being asked about, reports that nobody has laid to
rest here that the president of the united states has intervened directly in an ongoing fbi investigation and we've gotten no answer from any of you, and, frankly, we've at least heard from director coats and admiral rogers they've not been asked to recuse an answer because of director mueller, and i don't understand why we can't get that answer. >> i'm not answering for director rogers or director coats, i'm answering for myself with the department of justice. >> senator langford? >> mr. mccabe, can i ask you do you feel confident at this point the fbi's fully cooperating with special counsel with any requests and communication and setting up between the coordination between the auflss for documents, work products, insight, anything that special counsel as they are trying to get organized and get prepared for the investigation as they are taking on, is everyone in the fbi fully cooperating?
>> absolutely. we are supporting them with personnel and resources any way they request. >> thank you. admiral rogers, this spring nsa decided to stop doing about queries. that was a long conversation that's happened there, it's now come out in the public about that conversation, that it was identified as a problem. the court agreed with that and that has been stopped. what i need to ask you is, who first identified that as a problem? >> the national security agency did. >> so how did you report that, reported that to who, how did that conversation go? >> so, in 2016 i had directed our office of compliance let's do a fundamental baseline review of compliance associated with 702 >> okay. >> we completed that effort. my memory is i was briefed on something like october the 20th. that led me to believe the technical solution that we put in place is not working with the reliability that's necessary here. then from memory had -- went to
the department of justice and on to the fisa court at the end of october. i think it was something like the 26th of october and we informed the court we have a compliance issue here and we're concerned there's an underlying issue with the technical solution we've put in place. we told the court we were going to need some period of time to work our way through that. the court granted us that time. in return, the court also said we will allow you to continue 702 under the '16 authorizations, but we will not, will not authorize '17 until you show us you have addressed this. we then went through an internal process, interacted with the department of justice, as well as the court, and by march we had come to a solution that the fisa court was comfortable with. the court then authorized us to execute that solution and also then granted us authority for the '17 702 effort. >> so you reported initially to the court this is an issue or the court initially came to you and said we have an issue? >> i went to the court and said we have an issue. >> and the court said we agree?
>> check. >> went through process of review and the court is now signed off on the other 16. >> that is correct. >> how does this harm your collection capabilities? >> so, i acknowledge that in doing this we were going to lose some intelligence value, but my concern was i just felt it was important we needed to be able to show that we are fully compliant with the law and the technical solution we had put in place, i just didn't think was generating the level of reliability, and as a result of that, i said we need to make the change. i will say this, in the fisa's court opinion also says the same thing. also told the court at the time, if we can work that technical solution in a way that generates greater reliability, i would potentially come back to the department of justice and the court to recommend that we reinstitute it. in fact, the court acknowledged that in their certification. >> when you say greater reliability, tell me what you mean by that.
>> because it was generating errors. our office of incompliance highlighted the specific number of cases in 2016 and i thought to myself clearly it's not working as we think it is. we were doing queries unknowingly to the operator in a handful of situations against u.s. persons, and that is not in accordance with the intent of the law. >> yeah, clearly it's not only the intent, it's -- we protect u.s. persons from foreign directed. so what i'm hearing from you is, the accountability system worked. >> yes, sir. >> that the issue rose up, we're collecting, we do have information on u.s. persons, we don't want to get that information immediately the process started going through to be able to stop it. the court then put the final stop on it. it was corrected and then that's now cleared. >> yes, sir. in fact, we're purging the data, as well. i don't know if we stop doing it, but we're purging the data
we had collected under the previous authorization. >> the issue on 702, most oklahomans that i interact with don't know the term 702, but if i asked them, should we collect information on terrorist organizations and terrorists overseas who are planning to carry out attacks on us and our allies, they don't hesitate. they say, absolutely we should do that. now, they don't want collection on themselves and their mom, but they absolutely want us to be able to target terrorists. and so the issue that i think we talk about when we talk about 702 on this dais is a normal conversation back home that if we miss something internationally, everyone says i thought we were doing this. why aren't we? so i fully appreciate the civil liberties conversation and the privacy questions. those are things i'm also passionate about and it's very interesting for me to be able to hear from you that you're passionate about and nsa is passionate about to make sure we're not collecting on americans. so i appreciate that, and in
this case when it comes out in the public media this has occurred, it actually shows the system itself worked. when there was a query going on that was collecting on americans, it was stopped immediately, data's purged, but we're still continuing to target on threats internationally, and i do appreciate that. i appreciate and yield back the time. >> senator manchin? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all four of you for your service, and you all are held at the highest, i think, the highest regards by your colleagues and your peers, and i think that speaks volumes of the character of all four of you, and i appreciate that very much. we have a committee here, which i'm so proud to be servicing on, i'm brand new, this is my first time at this, and i don't think there's a person up here that doesn't want to find out the facts and the truth and be able to go back home and explain to the democrat and republican colleagues, no matter what political persuasion, that we have gotten the facts. we got it from our intel, which we truly appreciate and respect the quality of job you do. this is our findings. we're having a hard time getting
there, as you can tell. i have respect where you're all coming from. and i hope you could understand that sooner or later we're going to have to. there has to be one element of this government that the public can look at and say this is not politically motivated. this is not a witch hunt. no one's trying to harm anybody. we just want to do the business of our government and our country and do the best that we can for that and make sure they have the confidence in the people they've put at the head and have elected. that's what we're trying to get to. today's been very difficult. by my sitting here listening to some of the answers and ability to answer some of the questions. if the intelligence committee and the senate cannot get answers we know in an open setting like this, are these answers that we're asking the questions, will they be given into a classified intel setting that we would have? could you answer affirmatively than what you've given us an open session?
i think, director coats, you said you would be able to answer differently? >> i think i've made that very clear. >> admiral rogers? >> likewise, i certainly hope so. >> mr. rosenstein, would you? >> senator, speaking for mr. mccabe and myself, we have been involved in managing the criminal investigation, and so i would ask that as chairman burr suggested, it's appropriate for director mueller, since we turned over control of the investigation for him to make determination about what we can and can't speak about, so i would encourage you to use mr. mueller as your point person. >> let's just say the questions asked to mr. mccabe weren't anything on the investigation side. could you answer differently in a classified setting, sir? >> i would reiterate the comments. at this point with the special counsel involved, it would be appropriate for the committee to have an understanding with the special counsel's office as to where those questions would go,
but i would also point out that as we have historically when we are investigating sensitive matters in which operational security is of utmost importance, members of the intelligence community typically come and brief the leadership, congressional leadership, on sensitive investigative matters. we have done so, i have done so, director comey has done so prior to the appointment of the special counsel, and some of the questions that you have asked this morning were addressed in those closed, very restricted, very small settings. >> let me say this, if it would be the desire of the chairman and vice chairman if we could, since we have a classified hearing scheduled for 2:00 this afternoon, would you all make yourself available since it doesn't linger on? there's been a lot of questions, a lot of anticipation, a lot of build up, anxiety, if you will. i think you could really help an awful lot of us clear the day up, if you will. >> iffic address the senator's question, this afternoon is set with technical people to walk us
through 702. rest assured that we will take the first available opportunity to have people back in closed session to address those questions that they can address and hopefully prior to that the vice chair and i would have an opportunity to meet with director mueller to determine whether that fits within the scope of his current investigation and we will do that. >> we have director coats and admiral rogers willing to say they would answer differently. that's the reason i was bringing that up. i would hope that would maybe be considered. let me ask a question, does the president support section 702 reauthorization of the fisa and expanded authority? >> absolutely. >> everyone? >> full support. >> full support there. did the president ask, or was he given any specific intelligence or info concerning the russian active measures in the 2016
presidential election? was he briefed on that? did he ask for that briefing, or is it automatic briefing that you give? admiral rogers? >> all that took place before i was -- >> yes, he was briefed on the results of the intelligence community assessment. i was part of that in january, prior to his assuming his duties. he and i have discussed, as well, the specifics of that assessment subsequent to him -- after he had become the president and assumed the duties. >> let me just say, just in finishing up, i just would hope that you all with your expertise and all of your knowledge would help us put closure to this sooner or later. we need your help. we need your assistance. we really do. and this is a committee that i think will take the facts as you give them to us and decipher that and come up with some appropriate action and a final report, which, i think, is what the public is looking for. we can't do that without your
assistance. thank you. >> senator, i fully understand that statement, and as the chairman mentioned the procedures he's going to put in place relative to when we hold that hearing and the relationship it is to the official investigation that's going on by director mueller, we'll dictate when and how we do that. >> i think we need you sooner than later. thank you. >> senator cotton. >> thank you, gentlemen. i want to talk about the import of section 702 to our national security. admiral rogers, i'll direct most of these questions to you as the subject matter expert on the panel for signal intelligence on foreign threats, though i might turn to some of our lawyers for legal questions. does section 702, admiral rogers, allow you to collect information on u.s. citizens? >> as intentionally targeted? >> yes. >> no. >> does it allow you to target foreigners to do what's called reverse targeting of u.s.
citizens? >> no, it does not. >> does it allow you to collect information of foreigners who are on u.s. soil? >> no. 702 is outside the united states. >> so you can collect information on an isis terrorist in syria and he comes to the united states and you can no longer collect information on his cell phone or e-mail address? >> we're a foreign intelligence administration, but yes, sir, we don't do internal domestic collection broadly. >> mr. rosenstein, do foreigners have constitutional rights? >> when they are in the united states, senator, different rules apply, and that's why i think it's important for people to understand that section 702 applies only in circumstances where it's a foreign national outside the united states. if they are inside the united states, we would need to rely on other provisions of fisa to do that collection. so, yes, we can do it, but we need to apply different rules, and mr. mccabe, as the director indicated, is responsible for that. >> mr. mccabe, what happens when an isis terrorist comes from
syria to the united states and admiral rogers can no longer use section 702 to monitor his electronic communications? >> admiral rogers' folks notify mine and we work together to pursue coverage under different elements of the fisa statute. >> i'm sure you work as hard as you can to make sure that's absolutely seemless, but seems to me section 702 is limited to foreigners on foreign soil without targeting u.s. persons anywhere goes the extra mile to protect the constitutional rights of american citizens and even the supposed constitutional rights of foreigners when they come on u.s. soil. that's one reason why i support the permanent extension of section 702 and i introduced legislation to that effect yesterday with the support of all seven republicans on this committee. tom bossert, adviser to the president writes in today's "new york times" "the trump administration supports this bill without condition." admiral rogers, is that your
position? >> could you repeat it again? i apologize. >> supports this bill without condition. >> yes. >> on a scale of one to ten, how enthusiastic would you be if this bill passed? you can go over ten. >> i would be ecstatic if we were in a position to create insights. >> you'd dial it up to 11? >> yes, sir. >> mr. coats? >> my level is about 100. >> mr. rosenstein? >> senator, i'm not familiar with the rating system. i do think it's very important. >> director mccabe? >> i'm at 11. >> director coats, you had an exchange earlier with senator wyden about the efforts to estimate and declassify the number of persons who might be subject to incidental collection under section 702. this is when you have a lawful 702 order but someone does, in fact, communicate with an american citizen. it's my understanding it would be virtually impossible to do so in a way that wouldn't further infringe on the rights of
american citizens. is that correct? >> well, that's -- yes, and that's one of the central reasons why i came to the conclusion, but the main reason i came to the conclusion is it is not conceivably possible. we could go through the procedures, we could shift hundreds of people to go over and breach the rights of hundreds, if not thousands of american citizens to determine whether or not they are american citizens or not. but we still, having done that, could not get to an accurate number, the number that senator wyden was trying to get us to. my pledge to him is i would go out there, try to fully understand why it was we couldn't get that. it will be detailed discussions on that on the closed session with the staff and the technicians from both nsa and from senate staff here and
others, relative to all of the efforts that have been made to try to answer the question. and as i said in my statement, even if we were to take people off their regular jobs and say get on this issue, even if we could put other measures in place, we still would not be able to come up. it's hard to explain how difficult this is or why this is the case, but that is what is going to be discussed in the closed session, because all this is classified information this afternoon. i assume the staff of members, all the members here, will be there, but my pledge was to do the best i could to try to get to some answer, and the result was we couldn't get to an answer, number one. and number two, trying to get to an answer would totally disrupt the efforts of the agency. now, you know, you might be able
to make the case let's hire 1,000 more people and get to the answer. if you knew you would get to the answer. admiral rogers has told me, i hope he doesn't mind me saying this, that if someone out there knows how to get to it, he's welcome to having them come out and tell nsa how to do it. but everybody says you can get to the number, it's easy, there's all kinds of agencies out there that can do it. i think he might welcome the advice if they wanted to do that. it really raises the question of why there has to be an exact number. >> if we're going to hire 1,000 new people, i assume them focus on intelligence services than invading the rights of citizens. time expired. >> in response to the question from senator manchin, you appear felt free to discuss what you talked to the president about in january about russian active measures. can you share with this committee how you're determining which conversations you can share and which you don't feel
free to share? >> ma'am, the fact that we briefed the president previously, both went up to new york and previously as a matter of public record. >> so it's it a matter of public record, you feel free to discuss those conversations? >> if it's not classified. you can keep trying to -- senator, can i get to respond, ma'am? >> no, no. are you saying that if it is classified you will not discuss it, and then my follow-up question obviously would be, do you believe that discussion of russian active measures is not the subject of classified information? >> i stand by my previous comments. >> thank you. mr. rosenstein, when you appointed a special counsel on may 17th, you stated, "based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command." the order you issued, along with that statement, provides that 28
sfrs, 1604-10 are applicable, otherwise known as the special counsel recommendations. is that correct? >> yes, senator. >> the special counsel should not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the department, however, the regulations permit you as acting attorney general for this matter to override director mueller's investigative and prosecutorial decisions under specified circumstances, is that correct? >> yes, senator. >> it also provides you may fire or remove director mueller under specified circumstances, is that correct? >> yes. >> you indicated in your statement that you chose a person who exercises a degree of independence, not full independence from the normal chain of command. so my question is this, in december of 2003, then-attorney general john ashcroft recused
himself. the acting attorney general at the time was jim comey. he appointed a special counsel, patrick fitzgerald, to take over the matter. in a letter dated december 30th of 2003 mr. comey wrote the following to mr. fitzgerald, "independent of the supervision or control of any officer of the department." in a subsequent letter dated february 6th, 2004, mr. comey wrote to clarify the earlier letter stating that his delegation of authority to mr. fitzgerald was planary. my confer ral on you should not be misunderstood to suggest your position and authorities are defined or limited by 28 cfr part 600. those are the special counsel regulations we discussed. so, would you agree, mr. rosenstein, to provide a letter
to director mueller similarly, providing that director mueller has the authority as special counsel, quote, independent of the supervision or control of any officer of the department and ensure that director mueller has the authority that's not defined or limited by the special counsel regulations? >> senator, i'm very sensitive about time, and i'd like to have a very lengthy conversation and explain that to you. >> can you give me a yes or no answer? >> it's not a short answer. >> it is. either you are willing to do that or not, as we have precedent in that regard. >> chairman, they should be allowed to answer the question. >> it's a long question you pose, senator, and i fully appreciate the import of your question, and i'll get to the answer. my quibble with you is, pat fitzgerald is a very principled, very independent person. i have a lot of respect for him. pat fitzgerald could have been fired by the president because
he was the united states attorney. robert mueller cannot, because he's protected by those special counsel regulations, so although it's theoretically true there are circumstances where he could be removed by the acting attorney general, which for this case at this time is me, your assurance of his independence is robert mueller's integrity and andy mccabe's integrity and my integrity, and those regulations -- >> sir, if i may, the greater assurance is not that you and i believe in director mueller's integrity, which i have no question about mr. mueller's integrity. it is that you would put in writing an indication based on your authority as the acting attorney general that he has full independence in regards to the investigations that are before him. are you willing or are you not willing to give him the authority to be fully independent of your ability statutorily and legally to fire him? yes or no, sir. >> he has the full independence as authorized by those regulations --
>> are you willing to do -- >> would the senators suspend. the chair is going to exercise the right to allow the witnesses to answer the question and the committee is on notice to provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all the way across. extend the courtesy for questions to get answered. >> mr. chairman, respectfully -- >> mr. rosenstein -- >> i would point out this witness has joked, as we all have, his ability to filibuster. >> mr. rosenstein, would you like to thoroughly answer the question? >> thank you, i'm not joking. the truth is, i have a lot of experience with these issues, and i could speak to you for a very long time about it, and i'm sympathetic, i appreciate the five-minute limit. that's not my limit, but the answer is, this originated as you may know with the independent counsel statute and i worked in the department during the independent counsel when independent counsel were appointed by authorization of
the senate, they were appointed by federal judges, and they had essentially the authority of the attorney general. that statute sun setted and the majority of members of this body concluded that was appropriate because they did not want independent counsels who were 100% independent of the department of justice. that was a determination made by the legislature. now, i know the folks at the department who drafted this regulation and drafted it to deal with this type of circumstance and the idea was there would be some circumstances where, because of unusual events, it was appropriate to appoint somebody outside the department, not somebody like pat fitzgerald, who is a u.s. attorney that could be fired, but somebody from outside the department who could be trusted to conduct this investigation independently and given an appropriate degree of independence. sn now, under the regulation he has, i believe, adequate authority to conduct this investigation and your ultimate check, senator, number one, the integrity of the people involved in the investigation, but number two, the fact if he were
overruled or fired, we would be required under the regulation to report to the congress and so i believe that's an appropriate check. and so i realize that theoretically anybody could be fired, and so there's a potential for undermining investigation. i am confident, senator, director mueller, mr. mccabe and i and anybody else who may fill those positions in the future will protect the integrity of that investigation. that's my commitment to you and that's the guarantee that you and the american people have. >> so is that a no? >> senator corning? >> well, seems to be one thing we all agree on at least so far based on the questions and the comments, and that is the 702 is an important tool for the intelligence community, and one that needs to be preserved, and i agree with senator cotton, it should be extended without a sunset provision as currently written. so, it's good to have one thing
we agree on. but i want to ask director coats and perhaps admiral rogers if you want to comment on this, as well. as i understand the framework of 702, it is to intentionally not target american citizens. it is to intentionally target foreign persons and to not collect information from american citizens except by way of incidental collection. and i think you've described, admiral rogers, the extensive procedures that the law requires and that nsa practices have in place to minimize the access of anybody in the intelligence community to that u.s. person and, indeed, you've talked about purging incidental collection that was made in the course of the 702 investigation. so, it strikes me, director
coats, the question that senator wyden has asked you and has come up several times to intentionally target american citizens in order to generate a number is just the opposite of what the structure of 702 provides, because the whole idea is to not collect, not to be able to gather information about american citizens except in the course, incidental course of collecting information against a foreign intelligence target. is that a fair statement? >> that's fair in my mind, and it was a central piece of the information of fact that caused me to come to the conclusion that this would -- this would do just exactly what you said. you're breaching someone's privacy to determine whether or not they are an american person. >> generate a list for congress. >> it potentially could, yes, to
generate a list for congress. that wasn't the only basis on which we made the decision, but that was an essential basis. >> thank you. i want to ask a little bit more about the minimalization procedures and the importance of those and a little bit about unmasking u.s. persons' names that admiral rogers and others, director coats, you've talked about. you've explained the process and the elaborate procedures that are in place to make sure that this is not done accident tally or casually. and i think that's very important to reassure the american people that in the collection of foreign intelligence, we are extraordinarily protective, so to me the minimalization procedures are very important, the internal policies of the nsa when it comes to collecting
foreign intelligence. that happens to incident tally impact american citizens is absolutely critical to this balance between security and individual privacy. perhaps this is a question for mr. rosenstein, though, and maybe director mccabe. if someone is to use the unmasking process for a political purpose, is that potentially a crime? >> yes, senator. >> and director mccabe, perhaps, or deputy attorney general rosenstein, for somebody to leak the name of an american citizen this is unmasked in the course of incidental collection, to leak that classified information, is that also potentially a crime? >> yes, i think that's the most significant point, senator. i think it's important for people to understand unmasking is done in a course of ordinary
legitimate intelligence gathering to understand the intelligence significance of the communication. leaking is a completely different matter. leaking is a crime, disclosing information to somebody without a legitimate purpose, need to know that information, that will be prosecuted in appropriate circumstances, and there have been cases where we've been able to determine there's a willful violence of federal law, a disclosure not authorized, and prosecutions have been brought and will be brought. >> and mr. rosenstein, not to pick on you or director mccabe, but i think there's some confusion when we talk about generically about russian investigations. we've described the role of the special counsel, which i think you've discussed in great detail, but that's primarily to investigate potential criminal acts and counterintelligence activities. is it not? >> the answer to that is, yes. the idea of the russian
investigation, that has much broader significance, i know to many of you, than the piece that director mccabe and i are referring to and the piece that director mueller is investigating. >> that's enormously helpful, at least to me, because when people speak generically of the russian investigation, i think they are also including things like our responsibility as the intelligence committee to do oversight of the intelligence and of the potential counter measures we might undertake to deal with the active measures campaign of the russian government, which were clearly documented in the intelligence community assessment. but by my count there are multiple committees of the united states senate, including the judiciary committee on which i serve, which has different jurisdiction and oversight responsibilities. it's our job to do the investigation and write legislation. we're not the fbi. we're not the special counsel. we're not the department of justice, and i'm afraid in the conversation that we've been having here people have been conflating all of those and
those are very distinct and importantly distinct functions. thank you. >> senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. director mccabe, on may 11th you testified, "director comey enjoyed broad sport in the fbi and still does to this day and you hold him in the absolute highest regard" is that still the case? >> it is, sir. >> director mccabe, i'm trying to understand the rationale for your unwillingness to comment upon your conversations with director comey. first, you have had, i would presume, correct me if i'm wrong, conversations with mr. mueller. you've had those conversations. >> yes, sir. >> you're fully familiar with the scope of the investigation. since you've dealt with not only mr. mueller, but also -- >> i am, sir, but i think it's important to note that mr. mueller and his team are currently in the process of determining what that scope is. and much in the way that senator
cornyn just referred to, the fbi maintains a much broader responsibility to continue investigating issues relative to potential russian intelligence activity and threats posed to us from our russian adversaries. so determining exactly where those lanes in the road are, where does director mueller's scope overlap into our pre-existing and long-running russian responsibilities is somewhat of a challenge at the moment, and that is why i'm trying to be particularly respectful of his efforts and not take steps that may compromise his investigation. >> but getting back to your rationale for not commenting on the investigation between you and mr. comey, there's -- it seems to me that what you say is either that is part of a criminal investigation or likely to become part of a criminal investigation, the conversation between the president of the
united states and mr. comey, and, therefore, you cannot properly comment on that. is that accurate? >> that's accurate, sir. >> what about the conversations between director coats and admiral rogers with the president of the united states? is that likely to become or is part of a ongoing criminal investigation? >> i couldn't comment on that, sir. i'm not -- i'm not familiar with that, and it wouldn't be -- for the same reasons it's not appropriate for me to comment on director comey's conversations, i certainly wouldn't comment on those that i'm further away from. >> mr. rosenstein, are you aware of the possibility of an investigation into conversations that director coats and admiral rogers have had with the president? >> my familiarity is what i read in the newspaper this morning and what we heard here today. >> director coats, have you had any contact with special prosecutor or any -- >> i have not. >> have you been advised by any
of your counsels, private or public, that at least this conversation that you have with the president could be subject to a criminal investigation? >> i have not. >> admiral rogers? same question. >> to the last question, no, i have not. >> let me just return again to the points that, i think, senator king made very well, which is this unwillingness to comment on the conversation with the president but to characterize it in a way that you didn't feel pressured, yet refusing to answer very specific and nonintelligence-related issue, i don't see how it wouldn't pack on the classification and our status, whether or not you specifically asked by the president to do anything. do you still maintain that you can't comment whether you're asked or not? >> nothing has changed since my initial response. >> i stand by my previous answer.
>> i just must say, the impression that i have is that if you could say that, you would say that. thank you. i have no further questions. >> senator mccain. >> well, gentlemen, you're here at an interesting time. it's funny how sometimes events run together. this morning's "washington post," top intelligence official told associates trump asked him if he could intervene on comey with fbi russia probe. it goes into some detail. i'm sure you've read the article. and it's more than disturbing, obviously, if it's true that the president of the united states was trying to get the director of national intelligence and others to abandon an investigation into russian involvement, it's pretty
serious. i also understand the position that you're in, because it is classified information, yet here it is on this morning's "washington post" in some detail. i'm sure you've read it. so, i guess if i understand you right, director coats, is that in a closed session you are more than ready to discuss this situation. is that correct? >> i would hope we'd have the opportunity to do that. >> well, i hope we can provide you with that opportunity. you know, it's just shows what kind of an orwellian existence we live in. as detailed, as you know from reading the story, when you met, what you discussed, et cetera, et cetera, and yet here in a public hearing before the american people we can't talk about what was described in
detail in this morning's "washington post." do you want to comment on that? dan? >> are you asking me? to comment on the integrity of "the washington post" reporting. i guess i've been around -- >> it's pretty detailed. >> i guess i've been around town long enough to say, not take everything at face value that's printed in "the post." i served on the committee here and often saw that information that we had been discussed had been reported, but that wasn't always accurate. but i think this is -- the response that i gave to "the post" was that i did not want to publicly share what i thought were private conversations with
the president of the united states. most of them, almost all of them, intelligence-related and classified. i didn't think it was appropriate to do so in an open -- for "the post" to report what it reported or do that in an open session. >> well, it's an unfortunate situation that you're sitting there because it's classified information and this morning's "washington post" describes in some detail, not just outline, but times and dates and subjects that are being discussed. and i'm certainly not blaming you, but it certainly is an interesting town in which we exist. >> just because it's published in "the washington post" doesn't mean it's now unclassified. >> but unfortunately, whether it's classified or not, it's now
out to the world, which is, obviously, not your fault, but describes dates and times and who met with who, and so -- well, do you want to tell us anymore about the russian involvement in our election that we don't already know from reading "the washington post"? >> i don't think that's a position i'm in. i do know there are ongoing investigations. i do know that we continue to provide all the relevant intelligence we have to enable those investigations to be carried out with integrity and with knowledge. >> well, it must be a bit frustrating to you in protecting what is clearly sensitive information, then to read all about it in "the washington
post." you have my sympathy, and i expressed that at your confirmation hearing, doubting your sanity. admiral, you got anything to say about it? >> no, sir, other than, boy, some days i sure wish i was on the bridge of that destroyer again. >> i can understand that. i feel the same way. mr. rosenstein? >> senator, i can't speak for anybody else, but i am proud to be here, proud to be here with director mccabe, and i'm sure he feels the same way. >> i do. >> whatever that might mean. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks, senator mccain. the chair is going to recognize senator wyden for one question on 702 >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, i appreciate the courtesy. this one, director coats, i'd like a yes or no answer on. can the government use. fisa act section 702 to collect
communications it knows are entirely domestic? >> not to my knowledge. it would be against the law. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator warner? >> again, i want to thank all the witnesses, but i come out of this hearing with more questions than when i went in. gentlemen, you are both willing to somehow characterize your conversations with the president. you didn't feel pressure, but you wouldn't share the content. in the case of admiral rogers, we will have independent third party that will at least provide some level of contemporaneous description of that conversation, and, obviously, why there was concerns enough to commit that to writing. i'm pretty frustrated that there is this deference to a special
prosecutor, even though the special prosecutor has not talked to you. i'm concerned with the deputy attorney general also deference to the special prosecutor, but there doesn't seem to be in this committee, and the chairman and i have committed to making sure that we appropriately deconflict. what we don't seem to have is the same commitment to find out whether the president of the united states tried to intervene directly with leaders of our intelligence community and asked them to back off or downplay. you've testified to your feelings response candidly, your feelings response is important, but the content of his communication with you is absolutely critical. i guess i would just say, the president's not above the law. if the president intervenes in a conversation and intervenes in
an investigation like that, would that not be subject of some concern, mr. rosenstein? >> senator, if anybody obstructs a federal investigation, it would be a subject of concern. i don't care who they are, and i can commit to you, if you're looking for commitment from mr. mccabe and me, if there's any credible allegation that anybody seeks to obstruct a federal investigation, it will be investigated appropriately, whether by me, the special counsel, that's our responsibility and we'll see to it. >> well, i thank the chairman we've been working on this in a bipartisan way and we will ultimately have to get to the content of the conversations. thank you. >> director coats, i know you have to go. give me 90 more seconds, if i could. this question probably to you, admiral rogers. have our partners globally used 702 intelligence to stop a terrorist attack? >> yes, sir, and if we were to lose a 702 authority, i would fully expect leaders from some of our closest allies to put out one loud scream. >> and in most cases didn't they take credit for our
intelligence? >> they don't publicly talk about where they come from, but we acknowledge nsa is a primary provider of insights. >> i want to get on the record. this is a global asset. >> yes. >> that the war on terror has is 702. >> mr. chairman, if i could just take the time you were trying to protect from my next appointment to just say, i just want to repeat, following my interaction with my contemporaries in a number of european countries, they are deeply, deeply grateful to us for the information derived from 702 has saved what they said literally hundreds of lives. >> well, certainly the committee is privy in those instances and we're grateful for that. i want to thank you for your testimony, but before we
adjourn, i would ask each of you to take a message back to the administration. you're in positions whereby you're required to keep this committee fully and currently informed of intelligence activities. in cases where the sensitivity of those activities would not be appropriate for the full committee or open session, there's a mechanism that you may use to brief the appropriate parties. it's sometimes often referred to as "the gang of eight notification briefing," and i think without exception everybody at the table has utilized that tool before. congressional oversight of the intelligence activities of our government is necessary and it must be robust. thus, the provisions of this unique briefing mechanism, given the availability of that sensitive briefing avenue at no time should you be in a position where you come to congress without an answer. it may be in a different format,