tv Christopher Wray Pledges Strict Independence at FBI Helm CSPAN July 13, 2017 4:01am-7:00am EDT
even on routine deployments and training missions. to serveo volunteer our country and protect us deserve the very best our country can provide them. bill,s the goal of this men and women who serve us. you've heard many good things in this bill. -- the go through it the end of the day, the good and the bad and the ugly that gets put -- he bill christopher wray testified at his confirmation hearing yesterday.
important nominee hearing. you're welcome. the committee is considering, as you know, the nomination ofchristopher wray. mr. wray, congratulations to you and your family on you nomination. this is an important day for the country considering the importance of fbi and law enforcement in america. importance of fbi and i welcome you, mr. wray and your family, to the committee. the ranking member and i will give omitting and then senator nunn will introduce anybody he wants to and then we will turn to questions. his opening statement and introduce anybody that he wants to that's here to support him and people that aren't here supporting him, as well and after his opening statement, we will turn to questions. as an accommodation to the minority's request, we will have ten-minute rounds for questions during the first round rather
than the normal seven. the director of the federal bureau of investigation is charged with running a fast agency with tremendous power. this power, if used appropriately, could threaten the civil liberties of every american or if it's used inappropriately, i should have said. however, when used appropriately and subject to a rigorous oversight by congress, it protects the nations from terrorists and from spies and from hardened criminals. the attorney general is commonly referred to as the top law enforcement officer in our country. the fbi director serves the attorney general as the top cop on the street. it is a very demanding job that requires keen understanding of the law. sound management skills, calm,
calmness under significant pressure and a very level head. from what i've seen so far from meetings when mr. wray and from looking at his record, he appearses appears to possess these qualifications. he has an impressive legal career, graduating from yale university and yale law school and clerked for a judge of the 4th circuit and also spending many years as an assistant u.s. attorney and was on the front lines in cases involving violent crime, drug trafficking, public corruption and fraud. during his time as a prosecutor he often worked closely with the fbi. while there in that position, mr. wray received the department's highest award for public service and leadership. in 2003, mr. wray was unanimously confirmed by the united states senate to lead the criminal division of the
department of justice as assistant attorney general. in that role he led and managed over 400 prosecutors and 900 total employees in nearly all areas of federal criminal law. there, too, he worked closely with federal law enforcement on partners with senior officials at the fbi. >> of course, it's important for the fbi director to be independent. in reviewing his record, i've seen mr. wray's commitment to this independence. he prosecuted little guys and big guys, as we tend to separate people in our society including a major league baseball player, gun traffickers and violators. he prosecuted folks on both side says of the political spectrum including folks working on a republican campaign while at the
department of justice, he oversaw the task force that investigated enron, this investigation led to convictions to several of enron executives, and the strong bipartisan support of over 100 u.s. attorneys across the country including former attorney general eric holder and other appointees of president clinton and president obama, and i will enter at the end of my statement letters of support for mr. wray. the top priority of the fbi is to protect the national security of the united states. the director of the fbi needs to be effective and needs to be accountable when practicing protecting our nation from terrorism against foreign intelligence threats and against
cyber attacks in high-technology crimes. the gravity of this responsibility is clear when we remember the scores of americans and others killed or wounded in many terrorist events on u.s. soil following the tragic event september 11, 2001. isis and other international terror groups have directed or inspired terrorist attacks in fort hood, boston, san bernardino, orlando, st. cloud, new york city, columbus, and i suppose other places that we tend to -- and shouldn't forget, tend to forget, but shouldn't forget. uniformly, these terrorist attacks on the united states soil show the fbi must have the tools it needs to protect against and investigate terrorism and other serious violent crimes in the homeland and these tools must preserve
civil liberties while being adapted to changing threat streams and advances in technology. chief among these tools is of isis 702 authority. this provides the government the ability to collect the communications of intelligence targets outside of the united states with the compelled assistance of american companies. section 702 receives the strong support of obama, and now the trump administration and is up for re-authorization at the end of the year. many federal courts, the federal intelligence surveillance court and the privacy and civil liberties oversight board have found section 702 constitutional and consistent with the fourth amendment, but the fbi does face questions about its queries of section 702 information and the impact on privacy and civil
liberties. in addition, the fbi must also have the tools it needs to navigate the going dark problem as more and more terrorists and criminals use encryption. i look forward to hearing how mr. wray plans to handle these national security issues and protect the american people and uphold the constitution of the united states, in keeping with the fbi's mission. of course, everyone here knows that i care about whistle blowers and whistle-blower protections. in december, president obama signed the fbi whistle-blower protection bill that senator leahy and i worked together to pass. it clarifies that fbi employees who make disclosures to supervisors are protected. unfortunately, there are still a lot of problems with the whistle-blower protection process. unlike other law enforcement agencies, the justice department doesn't allow fbi agents to get
an independent judicial review of retaliation claims. it concerns me that the department and the fbi hasn't worked with us on the legislation to fix that. fbi whistle blowers need the support of their leadership to ensure that there is a speedy and effective way to resolve their cases. i would like the assurance from mr. wray that whistle blowers would not face retaliation. some of his predecessors have done a poor job of protecting whistle blowers. at the fbi hearing on may 3, i said a cloud of doubt hangs over the fbi's objectivity. the previous director, james comey said that the people at the fbi don't give a rip about politics, but mr. comey installed as his done director, a man whose wife ran for the virginia state senate and accepted almost $1 million from the terry mcauliffe splitting machine. that's a lot of money for one
state senate seat. governor mcauliffe is a longtime friend and fund-raiser for the clirpts and the democratic party. mccabe met about his wife's political plans and his official fbi biography was set up using the meeting and the goal was for mcauliffe to close the deal and get his wife to run for office. the office of special counsel is reviewing whether that coordination was a violation of the hash tag which prohibits partisan, political coordination by fbi officials. then spector general, should have been refuse are khussed from the clinton investigation based on mr. macabre's financial ties to the clinton political network. mr. mccabe was named in a sex discrimination lawsuit by a female fbi agent who alleged retaliation. just last week it was reported that lieutenant general michael
flynn wrote a letter in support of the female agent expect that means lieutenant general flinn is an adverse witness to mr. mccabe in a pending proceeding and mr. mccabe supervised that criminal investigation of flynn and alleged lead wanted to pursue it aggressively. according to press reports, three fbi employees personally witnessed mccabe making disparaging remarks about flinn before and during the russian investigation, yet mr. mccabe never recused himself from the flinn investigation. his failure to do so calls into question whether he has handled that investigation fairly and objectively. i have asked the inspect or general to review this, and it is trusted with a tremendous amount of power and that power is unsubject to appropriate checks with the abuse of the civil liberties. the directors are accountable to his leadership and to the people
elected representatives. that's yet fbi director has a ten-year term limit and why there are no restrictions on the ability of any president to fire any director as president trump did former director james comey. the term limit is a sealing and not a floor and while independence from partisan influence is critical and this committee intends to closely examine the circumstances of mr. comey's firing, history shows that the ten-year term limit isn't there to protect the fbi director from politicians or politics. it's there to help prevent the fbi director from overreaching or abusing power. for more than 50 years, the fbi was run by j. edgar hoover, arguably, the most independent fbi director in history. the very people charged with constraining his power were targets of his secret files and
so were the americans whose civil liberties were trampled by the program and hoover's own illegal abuses and yet the fbi building still bears his name just as the bureau bears the weight of his ugly legacy, but in america the people rule. not the police or the military. various oversight by elected officials as both the executive and legislative branch is essential to protect that liberty. i've been doing vigious oversight work of the fbi for my entire career on this committee. as long as i'm chairman i will continue to ask important questions a questions and have honest answers for the american people. we had a hearing on the crime sub committee that demonstrated the long history of congress exercising its constitutional authority to do oversight including ongoing criminal and intelligence matters.
sometimes we cannot talk public about all of the details of our work, although we strive to be as open as possible. some people have argued that oversight of ongoing investigations is somehow interference and this ignores the importance of our work to ensure transparency and accountability, and of course, it ignores history. this committee has received detailed information about ongoing criminal matters and foreign intelligence in the past and we will continue to seek that information. that's what oversight and accountabilities are all about. in the past, the fbi has resisted accountability to congress and has been unresponsive to our letters, and i know for sure about my letters. mr. wray, you and i have spoken about this problem, and i expect you to change this practice at the fbi. i would like an assurance from you that you would be responsive to my oversight work and that my
questions and do you mean request will be taken seriously in a timely and complete matter and some of my questions with you will pursue this point. once again, i thank mr. wray for his ability to rush to public service and i look forward to a full and candid conversation with him today. now senator feinstein. >> thanks very much, mr. chairman. i would like to start by welcoming the nominee's family to this hearing. i want them to enjoy the day. this is probably as good as it gets, so enjoy it. [ laughter ] i would also like to recognize sam nunn. it's good to welcome you back, sam. you were a beacon of integrity and scrutiny and good logic and strong positions while you served in the senate and it was a great treat for those of us who were able to work with you
to do so. so welcome back. the position of fbi director is currently vacant because of a situation, and i want to speak about that. on may 9th of this year, president trump fired james comey. although we're still sorting out all of the circumstances and details surrounding the president's decision, it does not appear that mr. comey was fired because the bureau was a mess as originally stated. nor was there evidence that mr. comey was dismissed because rank and file fbi agent his either lost confidence in him or because his handling of the clinton administration investigation. rather, we find that rank and file agents of the fbi did and continue to overwhelmingly support james comey. in addition, deputy attorney general rosenstein told members
of congress that when he wrote his memo, president trump had decided to remove mr. comey as fbi director. based on press reports and the president's own words, the reason mr. comey was dismissed was because he would not pledge his loyalty to the president. president trump said in a televised interview, for example, i was going to fire comey regardless of recommendation, and quote, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story, end quote. as the investigation into russian election interference and possible coordination with the trump campaign progressed, it appears the president became more and more concerned with director comey's unwillingness
to cooperate in the flynn matter as well as the russia matter. all of this raises important questions for the next fbi head and particularly for his independence. first and foremost, the fbi is and must remain an independent law enforcement organization free from political influence and this starts at the very top. the fbi director does not serve the president. he serves the constitution, the law and the american people. as such, the director of the fbi must be a leader who has the integrity and strength that will enable him to withstand any a toechlts at political interference. today the judiciary committee will verify then teg riddy and independence of the nominee
before us. will mr. wray and the fbi pursue investigations with independence and vigor regardless of who may be implicated? will he stand up for what is right and lawful? will he tell the president no if improperly directed to pursue certain or end certain investigations? these are not abstract questions or hypotheticals and the committee must consider how mr. wray has handled such situations in the past. according to one press account, for example, mr. wray expressed his readiness to resign alongside then deputy attorney general comey and fbi director mueller in a standoff with the bush white house about the legality of the nsa's surveillance program.
yet john yu has testified that just a year earlier mr. wray was part of the senior leadership in the justice department that may have refused an office of legal counsel memo -- excuse me, reviewed an office of legal counsel memo justifying the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. this is significant not only because of what it says about mr. wray's views and independence at the time, but we know there are those that would bring back torture, if i would, but how he would handle this as fbi director is important. in 2009, this committee heard important testimony stating that fbi interrogators have traditionally used the informed interrogation approach and ali sufant who many of us know an fbi agent who was a key fbi
interrogator for several major terrorism investigations. testified to us directly about the contrast between the fbi's techniques and the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the cia during the bush administration. specifically, he testified that these enhanced techniques were ineffective, slow and unreliable and ultimately harmful to counter terrorism efforts. in fact, we learned that back in 2002, then-fbi director bob mueller ended the fbi's participation in the interrogation of zubaida and other cia detainees because of the harsh torture methods used and because they were undermining the investigation. in fact, he pulled his people out. this is important.
the issue of interrogation techniques is not just something of the past. in february of this past griyea then-candidate trump said torture works and he said he would, quote, bring back waterboarding and, quote, much worse, end quote. so i am particularly interested in hearing more about the nominee's knowledge of the justice department's legal justification for the cia's use of torture during the bush administration as well as his knowledge of detainee abuse the military in iraq. i've said before that the cia's use of torture as part of its detention and interrogation program are a stain on our nation's value and our nation's history. the senate intelligence committee's torture report was issued in december of 2014 when i was chairman of that
committee. it outlined in specific the horrific abuses of detainees as well as the flimsy -- mr. wray was associate attorney general at the justice department when the office of legal council issued the torture memos in 2002 and 2003. one of the authors of these memos, john yu testified that olc would not have issued such opinions without the approval of the office of the attorney general or the office of deputy attorney general. in fact, in his testimony, john yu, mr. wray of olc memos so this raises the question of what exactly was mr. wray's role in
reviewing and approving these memos and i'd like mr. wray to clear this up this morning. i've had an opportunity to talk with him. i think this should go on the record, and i think that he should respond directly to the full committee. i am also concerned by reports that mr. ray was alerted early on to the abuse of detainees at the abu ghraib prison in iraq. i would like to know more about what the nominee knew and when and what he did in response. this committee is chargeded w w considering mr. wray's qualifications with criminal and counter terrorism investigations, but we must also examine his independence, his integrity and his willingness to stand up in the face of political pressure because it will most certainly come. mr. chairman, thank you for
holding this hearing, and i look forward to hearing from the nominee. >> thank you. >> we now go to former colleague of ours, senator from georgia. sam nunn for an introduction of our nominee. senator feinstein used a lot of adjectives about you that i would associate myself with, but i also had the privilege of serving you for at least more than a decade and a half and maybe two decades, and i know well how you were a determined senator to get things done and represent your people well, so welcome to the committee and you may proceed. >> thank you very much, chairman grassley and senator feinstein and my former colleagues, senator hatch and senator leahy and other members of the judiciary committee. it is a great honor to appear before this committee today for the purpose of introducing christopher wray, the president's nominee to be the director of the federal bureau
of investigation. history does seem to rhyme. in 1977 i introduced judge bell to this committee and strongly recommending him to be confirmed as attorney general. like today, it was a challenging time for the department of justice as well as for the fbi. i described judge bell then as a man noted for his quick mind, his candor and his integrity and his independence. years later in may 2003, judge bell contacted me and praising chris wray as a rising star and he suggested i recommend him to my former senate colleagues as a terrific choice to be confirmeded confirmed to head the criminal division of the department of justice. since then i've followed chris' career in and out of government and i satisfied myself fully that my support for chris in 2003 was well placed.
i can assure this committee that chris embodies the same treats that enable griffin bell to rebuild public confidence in the department of justice, quickness of mind, candor, integrity and independence. a couple of questions, what is the basis of my confidence in chris, and i hope to answer some of your questions in answering the questions i pose. as the united states attorney in atlanta in 1997 where chris worked with the fbi in the trenches of federal, criminal investigations and prosecutions. so 2001, when he served as then-deputy attorney general larry thompson's principal deputy. chris has been a leader in helping guide the department of justice including the fbi. after the 2001 terrorist attacks, chris worked tirelessly with the justice department leadership, newly appointed fbi
director mueller as well as other senior fbi officials to respond to the attacks and to help restructure the department to enable it to more effectively prevent future acts of terrorism. chris ao helped other department of justis priorities. and he was instrumental in forming the department's corporate task force. in 2003, at age 36, as i mentioned, chris was nominated by president bush to lead the justice department's criminal division. the senate unanimously confirmed chris for this. the confidence him was justified by capably overseeing what are now two critically important divisions at the department, the criminal division and the national security division. in recent years i have observed of chris wray close up where he
heads the special matters team. incide incidentally, regarded by judge bell. chris became to be regarded as one of the most skill of the investigative lawyers in the country. mr. chairman, senator feinstein and members of the committee, chris wray possesses an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. he is a proven track record of following the facts and the law independent of favor or influence. chris commands the respect and admiration of lawyers and judges and all who have observed his conduct and his record. chris understands that the fbi, the department of justice owe loyalty to our laws and our nation and not any particular officeholder. he's demonstrated his commitment that these fundamental principles are upheld at the
department of justice. no one is better able to attest to that than former deputy general, larry thompson that went through the department. >> i would like to read a letter that chairman thompson sent to chairman grassley and ranking member feinstein, and i quote larry thompson. i've had the chance during my career to work with men and women who have served at the department of justices in democratic and republican administrations alike. i have witnessed them handling the most sensitive investigatio investigations and matters imaginable. i can tell first hand that i have not worked with or seen an individual with a keener sense of the department's mission and the need for the department's business to be conducted free from favor, influence or partisanship, end quote. my second question, why is chris
wray's timely confirmation so important to the fbi and nomination? if confirmed i have confidence that chris will follow the facts and the law with fairness, thoroughness and objectivity wherever that path may lead. every member of this committee knows how important it is the job of fbi director is to our nation, and particularly during challenging times. history tells us that among its many other important tasks we rely on the department of justice and the fbi to serve as a powerful check on the executive branch including the president and even on occasion, a check on itself. this has been made clear in the 1972 watergate investigation, the 1986 iran-contra investigation, the 1990s, whitewater investigation and the early 2000, nsa surveillance episode.
chairman grassley, as you pointed out that sustained congressional oversight is absolutely essential for our national. what we ask of the men and women of the fbi is enormous. keeping our nation safe, uphelding our laws and investigating law braishgbreake yes, acting as a check of the most powerful and the most connected. the fbi deserves a permanent director so they can accomplish these tasks with the nation's pull confidence. there is too much at stake to allow this nomination to stand idle. chris wray is the leader of integrity the bureau needs at this critical moment, and i thank you, mr. chairman, senator feinstein and members of this committee, for moving forward expeditiously on this nomination. my bottom line, i am confident that in meeting day to day pressures as well as in periods of enormous consequence, chris
wray will devote every ounce of his intellect, his skills and his sound judgment to protecting the american people and upholding our constitutional principles. mr. chairman, senator feinstein and members of the committee, i strongly urge the committee and the senate to confirm chris wray as director of the federal bureau of investigation, and i thank you for letting me appear today with these words. >> particularly to get it done quickly. we thank you very much. yes, you may. >> mr. chairman, i remember very well senator nunn's testimony in favor of griffin bell. i've served here with 379 individual u.s. senators. sam nunn is one of the absolute best i've ever served with. we've been dear friends. we sat near each other on the senate floor.
i learned a lot with him. every experience with him was great except the one time we were in a darkened room and the swat team came in firing live ammunition around us. that's a different story. it's an honor to have you here, sam. i'm delighted to see you. please give my best to colleen. >> thank you, senator, very much. >> before you're seated, i'd like to give the oath now. do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you very much.
i think that i, more or less, introduced you in my opening comments. so i think now whatever time you take for the usual thing is for a statement, but also it's quite usual in this committee that my introductions you want to make, you can appropriately make those. that's your decision. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, senator feinstein, members of the committee, thank you for the privilege of appearing before you today. i also want to thank senator nunn for that really very kind introduction. there's no way i could contemplate undertaking an endeavor like this without the love and support of my family. with me here today is my wife helen, both of our kids, caroline and trip, my parents gilda and cecil wray. my sister, katie. my niece maggie. my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and two of their
children amelia and clark. a commitment like this affects the whole family, and i have no words to adequately express my gratitude to all of them. i'm honored by the president to be nominated to lead the fbi and i'm humbled by the prospect of outstanding men and women of the bureau. time and time again, often when the stakes are highest, they have proven their unshakable commitment to protecting americans, upholding our constitution and our laws and demonstrating the virtues of the fbi motto: fidelity, bravery and integrity. former attorney general and judge griffin bell, who i had the great pleasure to work with quite a bit early in my career,
often used to say that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. and i think in my experience the men and women of the fbi demonstrate the limitless potential of that saying day after day in the way they tackle the mission. while the fbi has justly earned the reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, its special agents, analysts and support staff more often than not operate largely out of public view. they toil at great risk to themselves and at great sacrifice by their families. but they happily defer individual recognition because they believe that the principles they serve are much larger than themselves. i feel very fortunate to have been able to witness that kind of selfless and inspiring
commitment firsthand throughout my career in public service. as a prosecutor, i learned a great deal with working with brave fbi agents on everything from bank robberies to public corruption, from kidnapping to financial fraud. those agents are my friends to this day and they taught me a lot about what it means to play it straight and to follow the facts wherever they may lead. i continued my career in public service in the summer of 2001 by moving to washington to work at the justice department with my friend and mentor, then deputy attorney general larry compton who you also heard senator nunn reference. after 9/11 i witnessed again firsthand the fbi's extraordinary capabilities as the people there worked around the clock and moved heaven and earth to try to ensure that horrific attacks like those that occurred on september 11th never happen again.
i know from up close and i sleep better because i know that the horror of 9/11 has never faded from the fbi's collective memory. the bureau has never grown complacent and continues to work tirelessly every day to protect all americans. as head of the justice department's criminal division, i again saw countless examples of the fbi's unflagging pursuit of justice, free and independent of any favor or influence. from counter terrorism and counter espionage to the then rapidly escalating threat of cyber crime, from human trafficking to public corruption and financial fraud, i worked with and learned from the men and women of the fbi who put it all on the line to make our streets safer and our lives better.
if i am given the honor of leading this agency, i will never allow the fbi's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice, period, full stop. my loyalty is to the constitution and to the rule of law. those have been my guide posts throughout my career and i will continue to adhere to them no matter the test. there is no doubt as this committee knows that our country faces grave threats. as lots of other people have noticed, america's law enforcement and intelligence agencies have essentially to pitch a perfect game every day, while those who would inflict harm on us just have to hit once to advance their aims. i consider the fbi director's most important duty to ensure
that nothing distracts the selfless patriots at the fbi from the mission. in conclusion, i pledge to be the leader that the fbi deserves and to lead an independent bureau that will make every american proud. thank you, mr. chairman, senator feinstein. i look forward to answering the committee's questions. >> before my first ten-minute starts, we're going to have ten-minute rounds just in case nobody came late and didn't hear what i said about that. there are two votes scheduled at 12:30. senator feinstein and i had a short conversation before the meeting, and i asked if she thought we could get done by 12:30. she said we hope so. but obviously we're going to let people go as long on their questions as they want to. but i would ask people to think in terms of people chairing the committee so we don't lose a
whole 45 minutes while we're having votes. so think that in mind. my first series of questions are going to seem maybe very softball and they probably are softball, but i think that they're very important to every member of this committee, particularly when they have an administration that says that democrats can't get answers to their questions when they do their oversight work or even 30 republicans that aren't chairman of committees that can't get answers to their questions and things like the role of whistle blowers. that may not sound like the stuff that is basic to your job, but it's basic to the constitutional principle we have of separation of powers and the constitutional role of congress. so the first one, we've heard a lot about the need for an fbi to show independence. you just heard what senator feinstein said about that.
and also for the fbi to make decisions free of political pressure or influence. so i'll just ask a very broad question and let you share your thoughts on this subject. what is your view on the independence of the fbi generay, but more importantly as you as directoread up that organization? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i believe to my core that there's only one right way to do this job, and that is with strict independence, by the book, playing it straight, faithful to the constitution, faithful to our laws and faithful to the best practices of the institution. without fear, without favoritism. and certainly without regard to any partisan political influence. that's the commitment that i brought to my years to duty as a line prosecutor. that's the
commitment i brought to my time as head of the criminal division. that's the commitment that i think the american people rightly expect of the fbi director. and that's the commitment i would make to this committee and to the country if confirmed. and i have way, way, way too much respect and affection, frankly, for the men and women of the fbi to do anything less than that. and i would just say anybody who thinks that i would be pulling punches as the fbi director sure doesn't know me very well. >> thank you. in my opening statement, i emphasized the importance of oversight in helping to make government a more transparent and more accountable as a result and hopefully more effective. so do i have your assurance that if you're confirmed, you will assist me and members of this committee because of our jurisdiction, but maybe i ought
to speak for i hope 100 members of congress share this view, assist us with our oversight activities, be responsive to our requests and help make the fbi more accountable to the american people. >> mr. chairman, i understand completely what you're getting at. i think the role of this committee is special with respect to the fbi and i would do everything i could to ensure that we're being appropriately responsive and prompt in dealing with all the members of the senate, but obviously especially this committee. >> and then, kind of along the same line, but not just your involvement personally, would you pledge to provide information to congress in a timely manner and to foster open and frequent communications between the fbi and this committee regarding our oversight requests? >> mr. chairman, i would do everything in my power to try to ensure that the fbi is being not just as responsive as possible
but as prompt as possible in responding to appropriate oversight requests, absolutely. >> i'll now go to whistle blowers. i don't know whether i used this exact language in my office private conversation with you and it doesn't matter whether i did or not, but i have a feeling that not just the fbi but most agencies treat whistle blowers like they're a skunk at a picnic. but i think it's a little different in the fbi from the standpoint that there isn't the exact protection for whistle blowers at the fbi. it's different than most other agencies except national security. when we met, i gave you a list of fbi whistle blower cases. that list shows that it has taken two to ten years to get cases resolved by the department of justice internal process. now, you may not have any control over that internal process, but the extent to which you do, i guess that's how i'm asking this question.
fbi whistle blowers also have no access to independent review and the fbi rarely disciplines anyone for retaliating against a whistle blower. tone is set at the top. that's why it's so important how you feel about this. how will you protect whistle blowers in the fbi and hold retaliators accountable not just with your words but with your actions? i'm sorry to say your predecessors did a poor job in this respect. although they may have been very effective in running a law enforcement agency. and seeing that everybody got the criminals they should get. >> mr. chairman, your reputation for looking out for whistle blowers, i think, is maybe unparalleled. and certainly i know this is a topic that's very important to you. i would say, first off, retaliation against whistle blowers is just wrong, period. i'm obviously not familiar with
yet the bureau's internal processes, but there needs to be a process that allows for appropriate concerns to be raised. and whistle blowers, in my experience, having seen them in a lot of different kinds of organizations, can play a very important role in ensuring accountability. it's not just oversight from congressional committees and courts, but there is a form of accountability that comes from within. and oftentimes whistle blowers can be very important parts of that. >> i appreciate your words. i think, if i remember right, that whistle blowers should not be retaliated against. i want to ensure you that at least two of your predecessors have told me exactly the same thing. i think it's how you interpret your own words that whistle blowers shouldn't be retaliated against. but you can understand why i have -- i don't expect that you're misleading me in any way,
but your good intentions may not be carried out, so i think it's important that you know that. i'm not going to ask you the last question but i want you to be aware of the fact that fbi whistle blowers are the only federal law enforcement officers who have no access to an independent judicial review. and members of this committee, along with me, with this senator, are pursuing legislation along that line. and i would hope that we get some, as you think about it, get some support from you so that your law enforcement people aren't treated differently from other in the federal government. now i want to go to national security. i've got three minutes left. there's no doubt that you are extremely qualified individual with a diverse array of work experience, particularly in investigating fraud. but the top priorities of the fbi are focused on national security with the ultimate goal to protect and defend the united states against terrorism and
foreign intelligence threats. any fbi director needs to capably and effectively lead the fbi national security mission. so to that effect, please explain to us how you have the relevant background skills, knowledge and experience necessary to lead the fbi in combatting national security threats, particularly in the area of counter intelligence and counter terrorism. >> mr. chairman, most of my four years in the leadership of the department, both as principal associate deputy attorney general and as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, were focused on those issues, counter terrorism and to some extent also counter espionage. importantly, during that period of time before 2005 or 2006 even, both the counter terrorism section and the counter espionage section were part of the criminal division.
so my oversight responsibilities in the criminal division itself and to some extent as principal associate deputy attorney general focused on the criminal division and those sections division and those sections were of course particularly high priority, counter terrorism and counter espionage. well over 50% of my time in those four years was focused on these very kinds of issues. >> thank you. now i want to go -- this will probably be my last question for my ten minutes now. and this is in regard to the electronic communications transactions records. we -- your predecessor to fbi director role spoke repeatedly about the need for law enforcement to have the tools it needs to research threats to national security and to have cooperation from electronic communication service providers when doing so. in that regard, please explain to us whether as fbi director
you will advocate for any legislative fixes congress can put in place to help the fbi get electronic communication transactions records, especially for national security investigations. >> there's obviously a tricky balance to be struck in that territory. but it's my experience that access to electronic information is paramount, lawfully pursued. i haven't studied the different legislative ideas out there, but i do know that we're going to have to as a society, both the fbi and the justice department, this committee and others, industry, our foreign partners, we are going to have to find solutions to these problems. because the role of technology is overtaking us all. i'm committed to try to work with everyone to try to find a solution. >> thank you. senator feinstein? >> just a couple of quick questions before i get to the substance of my questions.
did you discuss mr. comey or his firing with anyone in the white house, the justice department or the fbi? if so, who, when and what was discussed? >> i did not discuss those topics at all with anyone in the white house. my only discussion on the topic at all was deputy attorney general rosenstein making the observation to me that at the time that i first was contacted about this position by him was that now special counsel mueller had been appointed to deal with that issue and that in effect made for a better landscape for me to consider taking on this position. >> that was it? >> that was it. >> okay. let me go now to the things that we discussed in my office. my understanding is you served as the deputy attorney general's
most senior advisor when the office of legal counsel issued the so-called torture memos in 2002 and 2003. one of the authors of those memos testified in 2008 before a house judiciary committee on june 26th that you were one of the justice department officials that would have received drafts of those memos. and that those memos would not have been issued without the approval of the deputy attorney general's office. in fact, you said he believed that you provided comments on the 2003 olc memo which concluded that interrogation tactics don't qualify as torture unless they're intended to cause the kind of severe pain associated with organ failure or death. what was your role in reviewing or approving that memo or any of
the other memos issued by the office of legal counsel regarding the treatment. you should know that there were those of us at that time that were trying to get hold of these memos to look at them. we couldn't even go -- as a member of the judiciary committee or member of the intelligence committee, we couldn't even see the memos. so this looms big in my mind. so i'd appreciate it if you could answer the question. >> i recognize and respect how important an issue this is. first let me say my view is that torture is wrong. it's unacceptable. it's illegal and i think it's ineffective. >> good beginning. >> i'm sorry? >> good beginning. >> second, both of my predecessors, director comey and director mueller, had a policy which i think is the right policy and i would expect to continue it, that the fbi is going to play no part in the use
of any techniques of that sort. third, i would say that when i was assistant attorney general for the criminal division, one of the things that i think we did that i was most proud of was that we investigated and in one particular case i can remember successfully prosecuted a cia contractor who had gone over board and abused a detainee that he was interrogating. this was not in iraq, but it was an afghan detainee. and that was a case that i'm very proud of. >> and that was a case of -- it was a homicide? >> yes, it was a homicide. >> that was the case. >> i'm sorry? >> the case was rackman in salt pit? >> i think it was in the salt pit. i do know it was an afghan detainee. the interrogator's last name was pessaro. my recollection is we prosecuted him in, i think, the middle
district of north carolina is my recollection. he was convicted and sentenced. i think that was not only an important case in its own right but i think it sent an important message of the criminal division's intolerance for that kind of conduct. as to the rest of your question, we talked about this in our meeting. i can tell you that during my time as principal associate deputy attorney general, to my recollection, i never reviewed, much less provided comments on or input on and much less approved any memo from john yu on this topic. i understand he thinks it's possible he might have. i can only tell this committee i have no recollection of that. it's the kind of thing i think i would remember. >> i would think so. >> it may not be surprising because my portfolio as principal associate deputy attorney general was focused on the criminal division, on the fbi, on the us attorney's offices.
it was not the -- the office of legal counsel was not part of my portfolio. that's not to say i never had any interaction with them, but that was not squarely within my wheel house, which was already pretty full, to be honest. so later as i said, as assistant attorney general, we did provide input on the general meaning of the statute but not as to any particular technique. the reason for that is i wanted to preserve for the criminal division the proper role of prosecutors, which is not to provide legal advice, but rather to be able to investigate and prosecute cases including cases against people who go beyond the bounds of the law. >> could you speak to your connections to the case at abutgraib prison. i understand you received a memo from the cia ig, which stated
the ig was investigating the abuse of detainees. that memo discussed the suspected homicide of a detainee and concluded, quote, i am referring this matter to you now concurrent with the release of the final autopsy report, end quote. so when were you first informed about allegations of detainee abuse at this prison or elsewhere? who informed you and what actions did you take? >> senator, i don't have a clear recollection in my head about when exactly i first learned about the abuse at abu graib in particular. i know we were getting deferrals from the cia. at some point those reforms began to include not just afghanistan but also iraq. we opened any number of investigations in response to
those referrals. a lot of those investigations took a while and i think a lot of them may have come to fruition after i left the department in the very beginning of may of 2005. >> so you have no specific recollection. let me ask you about civil injunction authority related to terrorism. as you know, there's a relentless and growing isil recruitment effort through social media platforms and recruitment is repeatedly identified in nearly all of the 100-plus criminal indictments brought by federal authorities during the past two years relating to isil. the civil injunction authority as i understand it exists for the attorney general to obtain orders against those who provide material support to foreign
terrorist organizations as well as to shut down websites from distributing software for spying on people. how do you feel about use of this civil injunction? and what commitment to explore it and possibly use it would you be prepared to make? >> well, senator, i'm not overly familiar with this particular tool in the arsenal that the fbi has. but i would be very interested in learning more about it and seeing how it can be used more effectively. i will say that, from my experience in combatting terrorism back in the early 2000s, that material support legal remedies are particularly important. one of the things that we used to say to people that i feel very strongly about is, if america is counting on people to catch the terrorist with their finger on the switch of a bomb, that's way overly optimistic
about the ability. so you need to look at a terrorist plot by looking at the whole continuum of it. where it begins. and somewhere on that continuum, we'd far rather catch a terrorist with his hands on a check than his hands on a bomb. so that to me -- any kind of material support remedy that is available is particularly important to try to prevent attacks as opposed to trying to play catchup after attacks have occurred. >> one last question. will you commit to informing this committee if you witness or learn of any efforts to interfere with the work of special counsel mueller? >> assuming that i can do it legally and appropriately, absolutely. i'm very committed to supporting director mueller in the special counsel investigation in whatever way is appropriate for me to do that. i worked closely with director mueller in my past government service. i view him as the consummate straight shooter and somebody i
have enormous respect for and i would be pleased to do what i can to support him in his mission. >> what i'm asking is if you learn about any machinations to tamper with that, that you let this committee know. >> understood. >> thank you. if you want to say more, i'm happy to hear it. >> senator, i would consult with the appropriate -- any time talking to this committee, i would consult with the appropriate officials to make sure i'm not jeopardizing the investigation or anything like that. but i would consider an effort to tamper with director mueller's investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate and would need to be dealt with sternly and appropriately indeed. >> senator hatch. >> welcome to the committee. i couldn't be more pleased than to have you in this position and i'm very grateful you will be willing to take it because you had a very nice life outside of government.
frankly, this is going to be an interesting life, but i'm not sure it's going to be a nice life. i have a lot of empathy for you and your family. let me begin with the issue of encryption. i've long been a proponent of strong encryption technology. such technology is essential to protecting consumers' privacy and keeping america's tech sector at the forefront of globalization. as the chairman of the high tech task force, i've had conversations with a nuer of tech leade such as apple's tim cook, just to mention one, on the importance of encryption. proposals to mandate, so-called back doors are not the answer in my opinion. i have tremendous respect for former director comey, but in candor this is an issue that i don't think he got quite right. what we need, in my view, is a public/private partnership in which congress, law enforcement
and industry stake holders work together to find the path forward. now mr. wray, will you commit to work in a collaborative manner on the issue so we can find a solution that is workable for all sides? >> i know this is an issue that it's been very important to you for a long time and we discussed it in our meeting. as we discussed then, i think this is one of the most difficult issues facing the country. there's a balance obviously that has to be struck between the importance of encryption, which i think we can all respect when there's so many threats to our systems. and the importance of giving law enforcement the tools they lawfully need to keep us all safe and so i don't know sitting here today as an outsider and a nominee before this committee what the solution is, but i do know that we have to find a solution and my experience in trying to find solutions is that it's more productive for people to work together than to be
pointing fingers blaming each other. that's the approach i've tried to take to almost every problem i've tackled. that's the approach i would want to take here in working with this committee, with the private sector. one advantage to having been in the private sector very well is that i think i know how to talk to the private sector. i would work to get the private sector more on board to understand why this issue is so important to keeping us all safe. >> that's all i can ask for. i'd like to turn to the issue of child predators. i recently joined with senator franken to introduce the bipartisan child protection improvements act which would provide access to fbi background checks to youth-serving organizations to ensure that child predators are not able to obtain employment with such organizations. now, the bill passed the house of representatives earlier this year, and i want to thank the fbi for providing very constructive support and technical assistance on this
important bill. will you commit to continue working with congress to ensure that you serving organizations have access to fbi background checks for their employees and volunteers. >> senator, i know this is an important issue. it's one that you raised and that senator franken also raised. i can commit that it's something i'm very interested in trying to figure out a way to support those efforts and work with both of you and others on the child exploitation and obscenity section was in the criminal division when i oversaw it and brought some of the most important cases. i'm keenly aware on a personal level of the threat that predators face to the most vulnerable populations in this country and i want to work with everybody to try to find better solutions. >> thank you. we'll work together. your agency has strongly supported my rapid dna legislation which passed the senate earlier this year in may. current law restricts access to
the fbi's combined dna index system to dna records generated in an accredited crime lab. recent developments in rapid dna technology, however, offered a great promise in speeding up the timetable for dna analysis. using rapid dna technology, a law enforcement officer can know within two hours whether an individual is wanted for an outstanding crime or has the connection to evidence from a crime scene. now, my bill expands access to codus. it will help law enforcement more quickly solve crime and exonerate the innocent. i'd like you to commit if you can to continuing the fbi's longstanding tradition of working with congress to improve the way dna analysis is used in our criminal justice system and
to reduce inefficiencies and backlogs in dna sample analysis. will you help us on that? >> senator, i would look very much forward to working with you and others on the committee on this important issue. i'm not up to speed on the latest advances in dna technology, but even when i served in law enforcement before, it was already clear what a valuable tool it is, both to ensure that the right people are caught and prosecuted but also to make sure that the wrong people aren't unfairly accused. it strikes me as just good sense law enforcement to try to come up with a way to make that tool more ready available and more rapidly available. >> thank you. in 2015 the fbi investigated secretary clinton's unclassified server system and determined that 81 e-mail chains contained classified information ranging from confidential to top secret special access program levels at
the time they were sent. as someone who served 20 years in the senate intelligence committee, longer than any other member of the senate has ever served, i have deep respect for the intelligence community and the need to protect and properly handle classified information. i was very troubled by the fact that secretary clinton was so careless about how she handled classified communications when she was secretary of state. what is your perspective on how the fbi should handle cases in the future when individuals do not properly handle classified documents and information? >> senator, this is an issue that's very important to me. in my prior government service, because the counter espionage section had jurisdiction over those kinds of investigations and they reported up to me, we investigated a number of cases involving unauthorized and inappropriate disclosure of classified information. one of the real eye opening things for me coming into the leadership of the department
from having been a line prosecutor was just how much of our sources and methods come from our overseas partners. i just think most americans, rightly, have no idea just how important that is. if we can't protect classified information, it's not just that jeopardized which can lead to risk of lives of intelligence community personnel. and all sorts of other compromising situations. even more importantly, it causes our allies to lose confidence in us and their willingness to share information with us. if that dries up, we're in a world of hurt. i think those things need to be treated very severely and investigated very aggressively. >> i'm very concerned about the violent crime trends that we're seeing throughout the united states. according to the fbi's 2015 statistics, violent crimes increased in our country by nearly 4% over the year before
and murders increased by nearly 11%. can you explain to us what you will do to work with state and local partners to curb this disturbing trend in violent crime? >> senator, as senator nunn mentioned in his introduction dealing with the scourge of violent crime, particularly gun violence, is a subject i spent a lot of time on in my prior law enforcement service. i think the fbi has a lot on its plate, but it needs to look for the ways that it can contribute. obviously atf and state and local partners are essential to that effort. and i think the approach should be for the fbi to see what it can do where it uniquely provides value. to me that might be things like organized gang activity, ms-13, you know places where the fbi has particular expertise that it can support and supplement and
augment the efforts of atf and local law enforcement. it's the old saying about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts kind of approach. that's the approach i would take. >> thank you. i want to thank you for being willing to serve and take on this awesome responsibility. i want to thank you family being willing to sacrifice themselves because we know that many times you're going to be away from the family and working pretty doggon hard. i intend to fully support you and i hope everybody in the committee and the senate will do likewise. >> thank you, senator. that means a lot. >> senator leahy. >> thank you. it's good to see you again, mr. wray. thank you for coming by yesterday. welcome back to the committee.
senator nunn mentioned griffin bell, and i enjoyed our talk about judge bell. now, i wish you were here under different circumstances because i'm troubled by the abrupt firing of predecessor director comey. the president, nor the white house initially misled the public about why director comey was fired. then the president made his motivation very clear in an interview with nbc news. he said he fired director comey because of the russian thing. of course, the russian thing was the fbi's investigation into potential collusion between the kremlin and the president's campaign and administration. now there are multiple investigations about russia and
their interference as similar interference we see in other countries by russia. just yesterday, we learned that a number of members of the trump campaign were eager to work and talk with members of the russian organization even though they're an adversary of ours, about the campaign. i talk about this not so much in history although we need to know exactly what happened. because we got to make sure it doesn't happen again. i don't care if they're helping a republican or a democrat. no country, especially an enemy like russia, should be able to interfere with our country. now, the fbi's one of the most powerful tools available to the president.
and from what we've seen from the white house, they may be expecting your loyalty. as the president did with director comey. now, you told me yesterday there's been no question by anybody in the white house asking you for a pledge of loyalty, is that correct? >> that's correct, senator. my loyalty is to the constitution, to the rule of law, and to the mission of the fbi. and no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point of this process and i sure as heck didn't offer one. >> and i also understand from what you said yesterday you would not give one if asked. >> correct. >> and the reason i ask this, i remember when then-senator jeff sessions asked a question regarding sally yates at her nomination hearing. he said the views the president wants executed are unlawful, should the attorney general, deputy attorney general say no? you served with sally yates and you can imagine and probably not
surprised her answer was she'd say no. and she stayed true to her word. of course, as soon as she said no, when she refused to defend president trump's discriminatory muslim ban, she got fired. now, so i'm going to ask you the same question jeff sessions asked of sally yates, and you know she kept her word and got fired for it. if the president asks you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say? >> first i would try to talk him out of it. and if that failed, i would resign. >> thank you. why did the president fire director comey? >> you know, senator, i don't know. i'm not familiar with all of the
information the president may or may not have had. so i'm not in a position to speak to that. i do know there's a special counsel investigation underway with my former director, director mueller, leading that. i think that issue falls within his investigation. >> of course former director mueller is looking at whether crimes took place. what i worry about when the president has said, and i quote him, face great pressure because of russia, closed quote, and that pressure was, quote, taken off, closed quote, by firing director comey. does that explanation trouble you? >> well, senator, i really don't know all the circumstances surrounding that statement and the context. i can tell you that during my time at the department working with then-deputy attorney general comey 12 years ago and
before that, in all my dealings with jim comey, he was a terrific lawyer, a dedicated public servant, and a wonderful colleague. i haven't been in touch with him in a number of years. >> will you work and actually pledge to keep the fbi from any political interference or influence? >> absolutely, senator. >> i was a prosecutor the time of j. edgar hoover. i never want to see us go back to that era either, where the fbi director did things we now know were illegal, improper, and done for his own political motivation. and i know senator grassley made some comment about that too. intelligence community, and this has now been public including the fbi, cia, nsa concluded with high confidence that russia intervened in the 2016 election
in order to denigrate secretary clinton, help elect donald trump. do you have any doubt that russia interfered with our elections hoping to elect donald trump? >> senator, the only thing i've been able to review on that at the moment is the public form of the intelligence community's assessment, the summary. so i don't have access to all the classified information. but i will tell you that from what i reviewed, i have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community. >> will you read the classified sections if you're confirmed? >> definitely. it'd be one of the first things i'd want to see. >> thank you. because i -- you see the actions of russia in europe and other parts around the world trying to expand their influence. you see them wanting to influence other people's elections. the last thing in the world we want them to be able to do is
interfere with ours. i don't want any other country to but especially a country that is as adversarial to the interest of the united states as russia. now, during a federal society event on originalism and criminal procedures in 2005, you discussed the extent to which foreigners were protected by the fourth amendment on american soil. you brought up the case of u.s. versus verdugo in which the supreme court held that the citizen of mexico was transported to and incarcerated in the united states was not protected by the fourth amendment because he's not a member of the people. you then said you think that might be a good way of handling undocumented aliens. to what extent do you believe protections apply to undocumented aliens in the
united states? >> well, senator, i haven't studied the fourth amendment jurisprudence in a long time. >> you spoke about it. >> at the time my recollection was that i was speaking -- the conference was about originalism. i think the main thrust of my remarks was about those who criticize originalism in the context of constitutional jurisprudence need to come up with an explanation for what if not originalism, then what. i was trying to make the point there's some logic at looking at originalism in that context. i haven't looked at the remarks of that issue in a long time. >> you think as fbi director, the undocumented aliens of the united states have any protection whatsoever or could an fbi agent just go and break in buildings anywhere they want and search for anything they want? >> well, no, senator. i think we need to be mindful of the civil liberties of all. >> thank you.
do you agree that water boarding is torture and is illegal? >> yes. >> thank you. that's the same answer director comey gave when i asked him that same question. i've worked with -- for years with chairman grassley to address the concerns the two of us have related -- there are things we do on a bipartisan basis on this committee. senator grassley and i have been concerned about the fbi's flawed hair and fiber analysis testimony. i asked director comey the question in may, he promised me a follow-up of what are we doing going over the 3,000 cases that were closed because of faulty analyses by the fbi.
if those cases come up even as a missing transcript, will you commit to having an agent conduct in-person visits to determine whether documents are necessary to find out what happened? i say this because i remember as a prosecutor using the fbi's hair and fiber analyses and if we've had people convicted because they were faulty we should know that. >> well, senator, i share your concern about having forensic science done appropriately. cases stand or fall on that. and we can't have innocent people convicted because of flawed science. i'm not familiar with the particular problems that occurred in this particular arena, but it's something i'd want to get briefed on early on and see what other appropriate action might need to be taken. >> thank you. and mr. chairman, i'll have a follow-up question for him partly about the question raised of former mayor giuliani's
influence with the fbi in doing some of these investigations and others. and i'd ask your commitment if you're confirmed to respond to those questions. will you respond to them? >> absolutely. senator, i look forward to being responsive to the members of this committee in whatever way is appropriate. >> i didn't mean to interrupt his answer, i'm sorry. senator graham? >> thank you. i think you've been an outstanding fbi director. and your words today will matter. america's listening about what is going on in this hearing and you're going to be speaking pretty soon i think as the top cop in the land. are you familiar with a article from politico january 11th, 2017, titled "ukrainian efforts to sabotage trump backfire." donald trump wasn't the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by
officials of a former soviet block country. ukrainian officials tried to help hillary clinton and undermine trump by questioning his fitness for office. they also disseminated documents implicating a top trump aide in question and say they were only investigating. damaging information on trump and his advisers, a politico investigation found. the ukrainian-american operative who was consulting for the dnc met with officials in washington in an effort to expose ties between trump campaign aide paul manafort and russia according to people with a direct knowledge of the situation. have you ever heard of those allegations before? >> i have not, senator. >> i have no idea if they're true, but would you agree with me if they are true, that is wrong for the ukraine to be involved in our elections? >> yes, senator. i take any -- >> i got you. that's a good answer. >> okay. >> will you look into this?
>> i'd be happy to dig into it. >> thank you. all right. are you familiar with the e-mail problems we've had with donald junior? donald trump jr. the last few days? >> i have not, senator. i have heard there is an issue, but i have spent the last couple days talking to your colleagues, so i missed that. >> i'm going to read something to you. >> this is an e-mail sent june 3rd, 2016, by rob goldstone who is someone connected to the miss universe pageant and has ties to russian entertainment and has ties to donald junior. emin just called and asked me and contact with something interesting. the crown prosecutor of russia met with his father aras this morning and their meeting offered to provide the trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate hillary in her dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father. this is, obviously, very high
level and sensitive information. but is part of russia and is government support for mr. trump helped along by arias and emin. what do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to emin about it directly? i can also send this info to your father, but it is ultra sensitive, so wanted to send to you first. 17 minutes later, donald trump jr. replied, thanks, rob, i appreciate that. i am on the road at the moment but perhaps speak to emin first. and if it's what you say, i love it. especially later in the summer. could we do a call first thing next week when i'm back? should donald trump jr. have taken that meeting? >> well, senator, i don't -- i'm hearing for the first time your description of it, so i'm not really in a position to speak to it. i gather that -- >> let me ask you this.
if i got a call from somebody saying the russian government wants to help lindsey graham get re-elected, they've got dirt on lindsey graham's opponent, should i take that meeting? >> senator, i would think you'd want to consult with good legal advisers before you did that. >> so the answer is, should i call the fbi? >> i think it would be wise to let -- >> you're going to be the director of the fbi, pal. so here's what i want you to tell every politician. if you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the fbi. >> to the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> all right. so i'll take it we should call you and that's a great answer. now, this is what don junior said saturday before the e-mail came out.
if i can find it here. this is his statement. about what i just read to you. it was a short introductory meeting and i asked jared and paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children. that was active and popular with american families years ago and was since ended by the russian government. but is not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up. i was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance but was not told the name of the person i would be meeting with beforehand. do you think that's a fair summary of the contact between donald trump jr. and this rob goldstone? >> senator, i don't know what would be a fair summary. >> would you agree with me this is very misleading? >> senator, again, i don't have full context to be able to speak to -- >> okay. i want you to look at it and get back with the committee and find out if that was misleading. is russia our friend or our enemy?
>> senator, i think russia is a foreign nation we have to deal with warily. >> you think they're an adversary with the united states? >> in some situations, yes. >> do you think in interfering in the elections that's an adversarial move on their part? >> yes. >> do you believe the russians did it when it came to the hacking into the dnc and podesta's e-mails? do you believe the conclusions? >> as i said to your colleague -- >> do you have any reason to doubt -- >> i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community. >> would that make a good candidate to be an enemy of the united states? >> i think it's an adversarial act as you said before. >> comey. did you see the press conference he gave about the hillary clinton investigation in july of last year? >> not live, but yes. >> would you have done that? >> well, senator, there is an inspector general investigation
into comey's conducts -- >> i'm not asking about the investigation. i'm asking about you. would you have done that? >> i can tell you that in my experience as a prosecutor and as head of the criminal division, i understand there to be department policies that govern public comments about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are there for a reason. i would follow those policies. >> he talked about something that was never charged in a disparaging fashion. do you agree with that? >> that's the way i understood his comments. >> he also agreed he took over the prosecutor's job by saying there's no case here? >> again, there's an inspector general's investigation into his conduct -- >> you would not have done either one of those is what you're telling this community? at least i hope that's what you're telling this committee. >> i can't understand a situation i would give a press conference on an uncharged individual. >> thank you. you say mueller is a good guy, right?
>> that's my experience, yes. >> and you'll do anything necessary to protect him from being interfered with when it comes to doing his job. >> absolutely. i think he's a great guy. >> do you believe in light of the don junior e-mail and other allegations, that this whole thing about trump campaign and russia is a witch hunt? is that a fair description? >> i can't speak to the base for those comments -- >> i'm asking you as the future fbi director, do you consider this endeavor a witch-hunt? >> i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch-hunt. >> thank you. can the president fire director mueller? does he have the authority in the law to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us and answer that question? >> i'd be happy to take a look at it. >> okay.
do you realize that you're stepping into the role of the director at fbi in one of the most contentious times in the history of american politics? >> well, as senator nunn said, there have been a lot of contentious times in american politics, but i think this one ranks up there. >> do you understand the challenge that lies ahead for you because institutions in the eyes of the american people is suffering and the last thing we want is for the fbi to fall out with the american people? >> i fully understand this is not a job for the faint of heart. i can assure this committee i am not faint of heart. >> and i think in that committee i told you that i wanted to be an fbi agent and it's a credit to the fbi they never let me become one. i never actually applied. probably would have been a waste of my time.
but i told you that i admire the men and women of the fbi because they're unsung heroes who work morning, noon, and night against terrorism, child pornography, you name it. they're out there doing it. and you're their voice. this is a big honor, do you agree with that? >> yes, senator. in fact, the reason i'm doing this is for those people. during the time when my name was first released to the media but before i was asked to take on the position, i got calls from all these agents that i used to work with, prosecutors that i used to work with for and against from different administrations and the outpouring of support and encouragement that i got was both humbling and gratifying. and i want to do this for those people and for the victims past and hopefully to prevent victims in the future. >> from my point of view, you're the right guy at the right time. good luck. >> senator durbin. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. wray. and to your family and friends who have joined you here today. you said a few words about mr. comey who you have extensive experience working with in the
department of justice. i believe you've characterized him as a great public servant and colleague. so i'd like to ask you, we're at an unusual moment in american history where mr. comey was characterized by the president of the united states as a nutjob and was fired for the stated reason by the president because the russian investigation was underway and the president believed it was a cloud on his presidency. mr. comey told us a little bit about his direct dealings with the president of the united states. two things really stood out. which i think may be fairly unique in the history of the united states. he said on one hand that he, having been caught alone in the oval office with the president of the united states, spoke to the attorney general and said, i don't want that to happen again. i want a witness when i'm meeting with the president of the united states. that is an extraordinary statement by the head of the fbi. if you were asked to meet
privately with no one else with the president of the united states as director of the fbi, what would be your approach? >> my first step would be to call deputy attorney general rosenstein. there's a policy that applies to contacts between the white house and the department. it goes in both directions. in particular, it goes to any contact between -- with respect to a particular case. there obviously are situation where is the fbi director needs to be able to communicate with the president on national security matters, for example. but in my experience, it would be very unusual for there to be any kind of one-on-one meeting between the fbi -- any fbi director and any president. >> unusual, but it happened. and it happened to mr. comey. he decided he was uncomfortable being in the oval office alone with the president. so as unusual as it may be, would you meet in the oval office with the president with no one else present? >> i think it would dependent on the circumstances, senator.
i think it would be highly unlikely, but i think there could -- i could imagine a situation where there'd be some national security matter where they might call for it. but i would, again, my preference and presumption would be that there should be people from the department working through the office of the deputy attorney general so that it's not a one-on-one meeting. i think the relationship between any fbi director and any president needs to be a professional one, not a social one. and there certainly shouldn't be any discussion between one-on-one discussions between the fbi director and any president about how to conduct particular investigations or cases. >> the second thing which i think is extraordinary and i don't know if there's any precedent since the creation of the fbi, was mr. comey's decision after meeting with the president and discussions with the president, to create a
contemporaneous written record. tell me your reaction. do you feel bound or at least do you feel the recommendation from comey's action to create contemporary written records of your conversations with the president if you become director of the fbi? >> well, senator, i think at a minimum i would take the approach i always do to talking to people which is to try to listen very carefully to what i'm hearing in the conversation. and there could be times i would think that the appropriate next step is for me to memorialize that. but i would evaluate that on a case-by-case basis. >> you can correct me because i think you have much more experience in this area, your memory of a conversation and a written contemporaneous report carry different evidentiary value and weight in a courtroom, is that not true? >> that's absolutely true. >> so i don't want to put words in your mouth, but you're saying under some circumstances, conversations with the president of the united states you feel should be memorialized in a
contemporaneous written report. >> certainly there would be situations it would be appropriate for me to memorialize a conversation just like there would be with other people. if they were important conversations, i thought it made sense. >> i'm not going to let you off that easy. >> okay. >> of course, that is your responsibility as a director. but we're dealing with an extraordinary situation here where a man you respected was fired, called a nutjob and the president said to russian visitors, we're putting an end to this investigation. this is not an ordinary course of business for the federal bureau of investigation. this is the highest elected official in the united states of america trying to stop an investigation by putting jim comey out of business. i think it's a little different than the routine requirements of the office. do you? >> well, certainly i would distinguish, senator, if this is what you're driving at, the difference between a routine conversation and significant conversation. those in the latter category i
would think it would behoove me to make sure there's an appropriate record of that. >> we've talked a lot about russia in this hearing. and the threat to the united states. you've read the unclassified version of their attempt to have a cyberattack on the united states election campaign. now we have a statement from the president of the united states suggesting, quote, putin and i discussed forming a cybersecurity unit so that many would be guarded and safe. so now we've all started with the premise that russia was involved in trying to change our election. we all understand that russia has been a bad actor around the world in many places. and now we have the president saying we're going to get together with them on the issue of cyber securitsecurity. so if it is proposed to you by the administration to create this cybersecurity unit and to share information with the russians about the united
states' capabilities and vulnerabilities when it comes to cybersecurity, what is your reaction? >> my reaction, senator, is i need to learn more about the current state of our cybersecurity defenses and our threats in talking to the career intelligence community professionals to be able to evaluate that responsibly. but i wouldn't want to do anythi that if i got that kind of advice and input suggested was putting us at greater risk as opposed to greater protection. >> i would think there would be red flags flying in every direction. i guess that's a bad analogy with russia. but i think there should be a cautionary feeling about any suggestion that we give to them information about our cybercapabilities and security. wouldn't that be your first reaction? >> senator, my reaction is that any threat, any effort to interfere with our election systems is one whether it's from a state actor from russia or a
nonstate actor, it's something to be taken very seriously. and i would think it would be wise for all of us to proceed with great caution in the wake of that information. >> i think i'd go further, but i'll leave that question. you and i had a good conversation yesterday about president george w. bush's reaction after 9/11 when it came to the muslim-american population of the united states. i would appreciate it if you would recount your impression of the president's conduct after 9/11 when it came to this topic and your own personal feelings about the patriotism of muslim-americans and the role they play in keeping america safe. >> thank you, senator. it is something we talked about yesterday. and first off, let me say i think the fbi director needs to be an fbi director for all americans. second, the conversation you're referring to, one of the things i remember being struck by by president bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when the dust had barely settled was that he took great pains to speak -- i
can't remember if he spoke at a mosque or what, but i remember he made a special point of speaking out and saying that this was not a situation where we in the war on terror were at war with muslim-americans. he made an outreach to the community at a time when it would not have been by any measure politically expedient to do that. and i remember thinking at the time that that was a remarkably courageous and noble gesture on his part. and i admired him for doing that. especially at that time in that environment. >> so i said to you it is my impression meeting with muslim-americans in my state, families and individuals, they are in the same state of mind today as japanese-americans were during world war ii when many were headed to internment camps for security purposes. what can you say on the record now if you were chosen at
director of the fbi about your relationship working with patriotic, god-fearing, lawful muslim-americans in our nation? >> senator, i would say sort of what i was saying just a minute ago, which i think is the fbi director and the fbi needs to be the fbi and the director for all americans, including muslim-americans. and my experience has been that some of the best leads we ever got were from members of that community, from muslim-americans. i remember having conversations with that with among others, u.s. attorney from your state. you know, pat fitzgerald, a friend of mine. and so while certainly we do face threats from certain radical ideologies when turned to violence, it is also true that those americans just like all americans are people that we need to get information from to help protect the homeland. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. wray. >> mr. wray, congratulations to
you and your family on this nomination. i appreciate your willingness to come back into public service at a time when i think the nation's confidence in its public institutions has been shaken. and i think it's very important to have somebody of your character and background and experience serve as the next fbi director because i think public confidence in the fbi has been shaken over recent events. i asked you when we met in my office about the rod rosenstein memo that he wrote. and i understand there's a inspector general investigation. i don't want to ask you specifically about the facts of that, but you'd have, i think, in response to senator graham suggested that you never would see it appropriate to hold a press conference about a criminal investigation.
and while declining to recommend prosecution disclose derogatory information about the target of that investigation. is that correct? >> as we discussed when we met, while i don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on director comey's decision, i don't know what all went into his decision but i can tell you, that in my experience, both as a line prosecutor and head of a criminal division and now as a lawyer in private practice with a special appreciation for why some of those rules and policies are in effect, that i can't think of a time when anybody from the department, much less the fbi director, gave a press conference providing derogatory information about an uncharged individual. but i'm not an encyclopedic knowledge. >> well, the fbi can't prosecute
cases on its own, can it? >> that's also correct. >> so the fbi is the premier law enforcement agency in the world as an investigatory body and not a prosecutorial body, correct? >> that is correct. >> and that role is reserved exclusively to the attorney general and department of justice, right? >> right. so, if an fbi director believes that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general have a conflict of interest, such that they don't trust the department of justice to conduct its business impartially, what is an fbi director or anybody else supposed to do? i mean, what is the part of the organization of the department of justice that would provide some recourse under those circumstances? in other words, is a special counsel the office that would be best suited to take over those investigations and decide whether a prosecution were,
indeed, appropriate? >> well, if there was a special counsel in place, then that would be the natural place to bring those concerns to. i think, you know, the department has a chain of command. so if there were conflicts at the higher levels, you could work your way down. there's also the inspector general of the department of justice that, under certain circumstances, would be an appropriate outlet. i think you have to evaluate each situation based on the facts and circumstances and look at the rules. >> director comey said that when attorney general loretta lynch had a meeting on the tarmac at the airport with president clinton, knowing that mrs. clinton was the subject of an ongoing investigation, that for him that was the capper, as he put it. and he decided not to refer the matter to the deputy attorney general or to the attorney
general but rather to take it upon himself to say that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute a case like that under the circumstances. the reason i'm asking this -- and i understand your hesitation about talking about a matter that's under investigation by the inspector general, but in mr. rosenstein's memo, he lays out his opinion, that over the last year, he said, the fbi's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage and has affected the entire department of justice. you read the memo, i trust. as a result, he said, the fbi is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. i want to be respectful of the line you're trying to draw here, but i need to know -- and i think the committee needs to
know -- whether you understand the gravity of the mistakes made by the previous director and you pledge never to repeat them. >> senator, as we discussed when we met, deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo, which i did read, the way he describes the department's policies and practices is consistent with my understanding of those policies and practices and the way i would intend to approach those policies and practices. it's not -- never been my practice to blur the line between fbi investigator and department of justice prosecutor. it's never been my practice to speak publicly as a prosecutor or as a department official about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are important. i think they're in place for a reason. and i would expect to comply with them. >> my statements to director comey on his appearance in front of this committee on several occasions is, i believe you're a good man who has been dealt a difficult hand.
and he certainly was. but even good people make mistakes. and my view is, mr. rosenstein lays out a pretty compelling rationale why director comey refused to recognize those mistakes and why public confidence could not be restored to the department of justice or the fbi until a director would acknowledge those and pledge not to repeat them. so, that's the purpose of my questions. and thank you for your answer. so why is it important to have separation between the fbi and the department of justice when it comes to the decision to prosecute a case? >> well, it's been a system that's been in place since time and memorial, as near as i can tell. it's the same kind of system that occurs in state and local law enforcement. the difference between the police and the district attorneys's office, et cetera. >> is it a check on potential abuse of power?
>> well, i do think -- right. the theory is that prosecutors can evaluate the constitutional protections, compliance with the rules of evidence, exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is very important. and i think if you collapse prosecutor and investigator into one role, you know, it's just one step away from having judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one body. >> i couldn't agree more. over the fourth of july, i had a chance to read a great book. if you haven't had a chance to read it at some time in your leisure time, which you won't have much of, i recommend it. hell hound on its trail. i don't know if you read about that j. edgar hoover and martin luther king assassination, and the manhunt that the fbi conducted following that terrible and tragic event. but pretty much lays out the case that j. edgar hoover, while he was responsible for modernizing the fbi and making
sure that it was equipped to do the job that it has continued to do to this day in an extraordinary fashion, that at the same time that he had so much power that people were worried about his unchecked potential abuse on power. so i would just submit that it is important to have that separation of powers and that check on the fbi. and, as you point out, the independent prosecutorial discretion and judgment for the department of justice. and i think that was a mistake that director comey, albeit a good man, made and justified his termination. on the minute or so i have left, let me ask you about project safe neighborhood. the reason i'm so interested in this, when i was attorney general in texas, we tried to learn from the richmond u.s. attorney and their project exile focusing on gun crime. to my mind, it was one of the most innovative and successful
ways to discourage people from using guns or carrying guns, particularly convicted felons and people under protected orders and the like, using the power of the federal law so that these would not be plea bargained away, which they frequently are under the state system. but with your experience in project safe neighborhood, do you believe that that enhanced role for the federal law enforcement authorities to go after violent and repeat gun offenders is warranted? >> i do think it's a very important part of that effort. i prosecuted as a line prosecutor quite a number of gun trafficking cases and then, of course, as you mentioned, project safe neighborhoods. i think the model of having coordination between federal, state and local and figuring out which cases can be done more effectively federally is a powerful deterrent effect on gun
criminals throughout the country. so, i think that was a very effective program and a model that we ought to be looking at going forward. the fbi's role more limited into atf, i think, in some ways would play a lot more in gun issues. the fbi has a more important role to play and would be in need of a significant role at the table. >> i'm delighted you're here and wish you well. i would like to ask a question for the record that you provide the committee with a complete description of what you know and how it is you came to be selected, if you could lay that out. we had a similar question and answer from judge gorsuch. and i think in this case it would be helpful. let me ask you a specific question to that here.
during the course of coming to this table today and being nominated, you mentioned that you will owe your duty of loyalty only to the constitution and the rule of law. has anybody asked you otherwise? >> no, senator, no one has asked me for any loyalty oath. and i wouldn't offer one. my loyalty is to the constitution, the rule of law and the mission of the fbi. >> you kind of answered the question, when should the fbi director unilaterally take over the role of attorney general of the united states? and i read your answer to be never. but let's say you're presented in a situation in which you don't have confidence in the attorney general in a particular matter because of a conflict of interest, perception issues, whatever reason it is that you have lost confidence in the
attorney general on that matter. what, then, if you're not going to unilaterally take over the role of attorney general and hold your own press conferences and make your announcements as if you were the attorney general, what would plan b be? who do you go to, the attorney general anyway, even though you lost confidence? do you try to work something out? what would be the proper way to face that problem in the department of justice? >> senator, as you know from your own time as u.s. attorney, i think the deputy attorney general is the proper place to go in that scenario. >> good answer. i agree with you. and i gather your answer about when the fbi should gather derogatory investigation is also never. but you went on to say that the protocol against disclosing derogatory information is there for a reason. could you state the reason?
>> the reason, senator, is that if the department has negative information to share about somebody, then the proper way for it to manifest that is through charges because then the person who is accused has an attorney to defend themselves against those charges and it will be resolved by a jury or judge if it's a bench trial. there's a place for the accused to vindicate or fail to vindicate the charges against them. with uncharged conduct, it's the old saying, where do i go to get my reputation back. >> and it's a corollary of the rule that the fbi does not disclose derogatory investigative information about an uncharged subject that even when a subject has been charged, you limit yourself to the conduct that is charged in the indictment or information in the charging documents or in
subsequent court filings, correct? >> right. exactly. trying to stay within the four corners of the charging record. >> even when you have a charge, subject is still not open season with derogatory investigative information. >> if we have derogatory information to share it should be manifested in a charging document of some sort. >> correct. great. thank you. i may be going over replowed ground, but i really want to make sure that i get this right. there was the, in my view, infamous 2002 torture memo that gave the department's approval to waterboarding. that memo omitted a number of things. it omitted a fifth circuit decision, upholding a conviction by the department of justice of a texas sheriff for waterboarding criminal suspects. pretty big thing to overlook in a legal memo, in my opinion.
it overlooked the court-martial of u.s. for waterboarding filipinos. again, a little bit out of the direct lane of criminal prosecution, but you would think that an office of legal counsel would be able to figure that out and know that the united states had this history. and third, it overlooked the military tribunals that prosecuted japanese soldiers for the war crimes so, to me, that memo was a hour trying low point in the legal scholarship of the department of justice. your name came up in testimony in congress with respect to a 2003 memo. could you just let me know what role you had in signing off on any of the olc torture memos and what you knew about them? i know a lot of people were cut out of them. that's part of the problem with
the process. what was your role with respect to the memos out of olc on waterboarding? >> so, senator, i have no recollection. and, as i said to senator feinstein, i'm sure i would recall of ever reviewing, much less providing input on, comments on, blessing, approving, anything of that sort any memo from john yew on this topic. later, in 2004, when i was assistant attorney general, the criminal division did have a fairly surgical role, which was not, underline the word not, in approving any particular interrogation technique but merely commenting on a public, general interpretation memo by dan levin about what the statute -- what the statutory stand means and that opinion, as you know, was rescinding prior
interpretations that had occurred and, again, that i had not seen. i did not think it was appropriate for the criminal division to be playing any role in weighing in on particular interrogation techniques because i think the criminal division's role is -- and we showed it through investigations we brought -- to be investigating and prosecuting cases where people go too far in interrogation, not to be providing legal advice. >> united states versus lee, the case out of the fifth circuit where texas sheriff was convicted of federal crimes for doing exactly that. all right. well, i'll follow up for the record of what your assessment, john yew, you mentioned the name. there's no point. i would like to get on to a couple of other things. famous confrontation between the department of justice and the bush white house over the warrantless wiretapping program in 2004. acting attorney general comey and director mueller both had
prominent roles in that. you were in the department at the time. there was a group of people who indicated that they -- if it was necessary to do resignations that they would be a part of the group that would resign if the department's views were not met by the white house. were you in that group? and do you have any recollections of exactly what took place? any episode in which you made that clear? >> yes, i was one of the people who said he would resign. i was not read into the program at the time. so my recollection is that i had a conversation with then acting attorney general comey, who shared with me not the classified contents of the program but that there was an ongoing dispute about a particular program that was constitutional and legal in nature.
and he explained to me some of the people who were read into the program, who all felt the same way he did and their willingness to resign. and knowing those people, having worked side by side with those people and knowing these were hardly shrinking violets in the war on terror, there was no hesitation in my mind as to where i stood. and i stood with them. and i said i want you to let me know if you guys get to the point where you think you have to resign because i'll resign with you. >> last question. congress has oversight responsibility over the fbi. congress also has an obligation to bet out of the fbi criminal investigations for very good reason. yet in our oversight responsibility it's important to make sure that cases aren't being tanked for whatever reason. and so i'm interested in what you think the appropriate questions are for members of congress for investigation. is it appropriate to ask if agents were ever assigned to a matter? if so, how many without getting into the details? is it appropriate to ask if any
investigative work was done, any documents obtained, subpoenas issued? is it appropriate to consider whether the department's process for following a particular matter like a matter involving a public official, for instance, has special base touching that has to happen at various places, whether that actually took place? is it legitimate for congress to look at the process of a criminal investigation without going into the substantive evidence to assure itself that a good job has, in fact, been done, that an adequate job has, in fact, been done as in the case of the learner investigation, where quite a lot was disclosed about what, in fact, had been done? >> senator, i do think that the committee has a very important oversight role that needs to be respected. that information doesn't jeopardize those.
there are ways to work through some of those issues. the particular examples you gave, i would have to think through each one. >> let's make that a question for the record. my time has expired. i wish you well. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman? >> thank you, mr. wray. thank you to your family and to your willingness to serve again. sir, there's a crisis of public trust in this country, obviously. this institution has about a 12% approval rating over the last four decades we've gone from a net average of 50% public support from most of our institutions to about 30. if you're confirmed, you'll have an important responsibility to help rebuild public trust in the bureau. i want to ask you a series of questions about that. but to begin with, why do you think the fbi director has a ten-year term? >> i think the fbi director has a ten-year term because there is a judgment made that the role of the fbi and the role of the fbi director needs to be one that is
independent of partisan politics. in other words, ten-year term specifically contemplates that there could and almost inevitably would be changes in the administration during the course of the tenure. and unlike other presidential appointees, the theory is, i think rightly, that the fbi has both a criminal law enforcement and intelligence role that sort of transcends political policy positions and needs to be kind of kept apart and above from that, and to endure through changes in the administration. >> so, what kinds of conditions would it make sense for an fbi director to be fired under? >> well, if an fbi director engaged in misconduct, certainly that would be a situation with fbi director. nobody is above the rule of law. fbi director who doesn't comply with the law should be treated
just like anybody else. >> when you unpack this concept of independence, it's critically imant that the bureau and its law enforcement functions and its investigative functions not be politicized. yet we have three branches of government. so, ultimately, the legislative and executive branches, the two that are the most relevant at this moment are accountable to the people. there is a boss of the fbi director. it's not supposed to be direct political accountability. how do you conceive, if you're confirmed, who your boss is when you're the fbi director? >> senator, it's the right question, of course. it is true that the president is the head of the executive branch and the attorney general is the head of the justice department. and the fbi is both part of the justice department and part of the executive branch. i think the independence -- when we talk about independence of the fbi, what we're really talking about is not structural or organizational independence
but independence of process. to me, the fbi needs to be able to follow the facts and follow the law wherever and to whomever they lead. it's a process question about how they go about investigating. that would be my commitment if i was fbi director. and that's a different kind of independence than a chart kind of independence. >> can you state again -- you said it here. it's obvious from your time in the justice department in the mid 2000s. and you've said here today you can imagine circumstances where you would resign. i think it's critically important when this hearing started and you stood there and put up your right hand and all the camera clicks put on, people know that oaths matter. when you're taking an oath ultimately you're saying it's the constitution that you serve and that the legislature passes laws, the executive branch executes them but the bureau's role in the execution of those laws is not to be a politicized or political function. i think the american people need to hear you clearly define the circumstances under which you would resign.
can you help us understand, when you're restoring public trust in the bureau, how do you understand if somebody is trying to politicize the work and the decisions that you're supposed to make as director of the bureau? >> first, senator, i would say that former attorney general griffin bell, whose name has come up several times already today, one of the first things he taught all of us about public service positions, especially one like this, is that you can't do a job like this without being prepared to either quit or be fired at a moment's notice if you're asked to do something or confronted with something that is either illegal, unconstitutional or even morally repugnant. you have to be able to stand firm to your principles. i've heard many people describe me as understated and low key. my kids would describe me more as just boring. >> there's some head nodding in row one. >> exactly. i don't want to look back.
no one should misstate my low-key demeanor as a lack of resolve, as some kind of willingness to compromise on principle. because anybody who does would be making a very grave mistake. now, my commitment is to the rule of law, to the constitution, to follow the facts wherever they may lead and there isn't a person on this planet whose lobbying or influence could convince me to just drop or abandon a properly predicated and meritorious investigation. >> you've talked about investigations and prosecutorial decision making. i would like to tease out a bit more of that. can you help the american people understand where the bureau's responsibilities end and the criminal division or the deputy general's office or main justice responsibilities kick in, in
decision making? and how does that work on cases that are below the purview of the director on a day-by-day basis and in cases where the director is directly involved? what's the line between investigation and prosecution? >> well, i think the agents, whether you do it at a line agent level, like when i was a line prosecutor, or at a mid-level supervisor level or upper management level, the basic construct is the same. the fbi is doing the investigating, the fact finding. the accumulation of whether or not there's sufficient evidence of a crime to recommend bringing a prosecution against somebody. but the decision, the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is made by the prosecutors who are trained as lawyers, who are mindful of department's policies and procedures about charging decisions. in my experience, it's less of a line and more of -- in the best
practical examples, there's a partnership between the agents and the prosecutors, working together, both in the investigation stage, where even though the fbi has the lead, prosecutors can often be very effective in participating in the investigation. and then the best agents i ever worked with didn't just hand it off to the prosecutor at trial and say good-bye, even though there was a handoff and assumption of greater responsibility by the prosecutor at trial, the best agents i worked with sat side by side with me at council table and we tried the cases. there is a shift of responsibility in the system but again it's a team effort. that's the way it should be approached. >> there are not limitless resources. at some level you, as the director, will have to make decisions about counterterrorism
investigations versus cyberinvestigations versus violent crime investigations, et cetera, lots and lots of really important missions that the bureau has. when you're making those prioritization decisions when would it be appropriate and when would it be inappropriate for main justice and beyond? particularly the white house, to be providing direction and fbi priorities and mine share and budget investments? >> i don't think the white house should be playing a role in prosecutorial decisions, period. from a programmatic perspective, which gets reflected in things like the budget that's submitted to congress, more effort can be focused on particular types of cases, you know. there could be a period where we focus more on corporate fraud or more resources on gun crime. there could be a period we focus more resources on counterterrorism. there is an effect on the scarcity of resources and the ability to prioritize certain investigations in that sense.
i think that's a process that occurs withinw input from law enforcement and the fbi, with input from the department. and at the end of the day there is a president's budget that gets submitted to congress for that process. >> i think i hear you offering a particular versus general distinction. on an annual basis, there are going to be decisions that will be made around budgeting, for instance, about those programs. but it's never appropriate for the white house to be providing political officials to be providing specific direction about specific cases that you're investigating? >> that's my view. >> we're nearly at time. i'm going to stay for a couple more hours and i want to drill into cyber more deeply there. first, do you believe that the russians were involved in trying to influence the 2016 election? >> well, senator, as i said before, all i've seen are the public intelligence community assessment. but i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community's
assessment. i haven't seen all of the rest of the information but i have no reason to doubt it. >> for those of us that read intelligence on a daily basis, it's indisputable and in 2018 and 2020, they are going to be back. the main tool that those who want to destroy american institutions have is not by creating new problems but by trying to exploit and exacerbate existing problems and american public distrust is one of the most valuable targets the russians have to try to divide us against ourselves and you're being considered to lead an agency that's going to have to play a front line role in restoring that trust. many of us are grateful at your willingness to serve. mr. chairman, i'll reserve my questions for the next round. >> before they get involved in our 2018 and 2020 elections, they are going to be involved in the september elections in germany. chancellor merkel already knows that. before i go to senator cobochar,
in the record, let of support from mr. wray from former doj officials. the letter was signed by many former senior doj officials from across the political spectrum, including a number who worked in the obama administration. they wrote that mr. wray, quote, has the judgment, the integrity, independence and commitment to the rule of law to be an excellent fbi director" and we also have support from mr. wray's former boss, larry thompson, who served as former deputy attorney general bush administration. he wrote that mr. wray's "admirable and unparalleled" and he praised mr. wray as a strong,
independent professional. these records will be included without objection. senator klobochar? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you mr. wray. it's good to see your wife helen there and your kids as well. our daughters are friends and i learned from nonfbi sources that your daughter flew in on a red eye and the fact that she's kept her eyes open through this entire hearing is a testament to her devotion to her dad. and on a more serious matter, i know you to be a decent person and a good and devoted dad. so i think that's a pretty good start here and i thank you for your answers, particularly the recent discussion you had with senator sass about the irrefutable evidence that you've been able to see on the russian influence in our election and the answers you've given the other senators. and i thought your opening
statement reflected the fact that you see the gravity of this moment in time when you're coming into lead an agency and being nominated to lead an agency of people who put themselves on the front line every day without fear or favor and we owe it to them but also to this country to bring back the trust that senator sas schl hschls has talked about in terms of this government in washington. so my first question is, when you ran the criminal division in the justice department, did you ever receive requests from the president or other high-ranking officials to just let a case go? >> no. >> and i think you answered one of my colleague's -- if the president asked you to do that, i think you said you would try to talk him out of it and if a president would not rescind that request, would you resign. is that right? >> i would take all of the appropriate action which would
include having to potentially resign. >> from time to time, when i was a prosecutor, i would sometimes get comments from people, oh, that case, don't do anything about that, whether it be at a dinner or someone calling my office and i had a process where i would tell my deputy, i would most likely not tell the prosecutor working on the case i had 400 people unless i thought for some reason they needed to know that, but if i did, i would say this cannot at all influence what you're doing and i think you know that this happens not just to the fbi director but it happens to people underneath you. and so that's why i appreciated your answer about the process. you have to have processes in place because it's not just the fbi director that gets those calls. do you want to respond to that? >> yes, senator. i think you stated it very well. to me, process is so important. and the reason process is so important is because people need to have confidence in the outcome. if there is a decision to charge somebody, people need to have
confidence that the process that led to that was fair, impartial and consistent with the law. li likewise, if there's a decision to close a case without charges, people need to have confidence that there was something there, the process is terribly importat and i think the tone needs to be set at the top. i will say, having worked with lots of fbi agents, the thing that is distinctive about all of them is that they will follow the facts and the law wherever it takes them. and sometimes people don't like it. but that's what make it is such a beautiful thing to behold if you're a prosecutor. >> how about your view of working with local law enforcement? we have a very good group in minnesota, our fbi there stepped in, special agent in charge rick thornton stepped in when we had the stabbing at the mall this last fall and worked well with our law enforcement and our chief. do you want to briefly comment on your views of working with
law enforcement? >> thank you, senator. i think working with state and local law enforcement is hugely important. especially because there's so much on the fbi's plate right now that there needs to be partnership between the fbi and other federal law enforcement agencies and the state and locals in a multiplier way. there's all kinds of support, whether partnering on investigations, training, the national academy is a great thing when i talk to people in local and state law enforcement, they consistently praise and ungratified by the support that has come in from lots of state and local organizations and i think that's a terribly important relationship because the reality is the threats we face are way too many for one agency. >> i appreciated your words with
director comey. from time to time, there have been proposals to split up the fbi's national security missions and remove matters like counterterrorism, counter espionage from the direction to spin them off. some have even advocated the creation of an american version of the way the brits handled this. and when this was discussed in the early 2000s and fbi director bob mueller rejected it, he said it would be a step backward. do you agree with his assessment about this type of proposal? >> senator, i remember being fairly active involved in that issue back in the early 2000s working with people at the fbi. i thought it was a terrible idea then and it's hard for me to imagine circumstances have changed that would make me think it's a good idea now. the one thing we've learned from the 9/11 is the danger of walls between criminal law enforcement and intelligence and the idea of
now splitting things up and creating new walls strikes me as just not the right way to go about it and my limited understanding in 2017 is that in the time that has passed since i left law enforcement, that other foreign agencies have started moving more in the direction that we have and i have great respect for our colleagues in the uk but i don't think that's the right system for us. >> senator sass raised this a bit, when you look at what happened in the last election, what may happen going forward, one of the jobs of the fbi is to coordinate with the election assistance commission, to follow up on cyberattacks and tell me that you'll make this a priority moving forward and help us to prepare as we go into this next election. >> senator, i think the integrity of our election has to be a very, very top priority. it's at the core of who we are as a country.
any threat, whether from a nation state or a nonstate actor needs to be taken very, very seriously and the fbi has a huge role in that. >> on a broader fashion, russia has vast criminal networks that the kremlin uses to sow instability. when senator graham and i were with senator mccain, we heard about this in balantics, ukrain georgia and a lot of time they are using shell entities, half of all homes in the u.s. worth $5 million and just using shell companies. would you support efforts by the treasury depth is a money laundering question to use its existing authority to require more transparency and luxury real estate transactions? we're trying to figure out where the money is going and how you follow the money. i think it was you that said at the beginning that you're more likely to find the terrorist not with his finger on a bomb but his hands on a check. >> senator, i'm not familiar with the particular program that you described but i can tell you
that i strongly agree that following the money is, to me, law enforcement 101 and trafficking or terrorism, that none of those things happened without money. and following the money closely with the treasury department i think is an uncommonly effective strategy to use. >> thank you. a few other matters. over the past year, we've seen a staggering rise in hate crimes. in our state, we've had threats against the muslim community, of course, the jewish community and how would you approach this issue as fbi director? >> well, senator, i think crimes based on bigotry or prejudice can't be tolerated. and i think the fbi has an important role in being an aggressive investigator there. one of the most moving cases as a line prosecutor was a different kind of hate crime with a serial church arsonist
who went all over the country burning down churches and ultimately one of the churches he burned killed a volunteer firefighter. i think i mentioned maybe to senator franken meeting with the mother of the dead firefighter and the roughly 7-year-old daughter of the dead firefighter is a memory that i will take with me forever. so i have sort of a personal appreciation for the importance of prosecuting those crimes. >> thank you. i'll ask you about the work you've done with human trafficking and i did have one other question on terrorists online recruiting. we've had a number of instances of that in minnesota and our former u.s. attorney andy luger and before that todd jones worked extensively with the fbi on this issue. i met with the fbi in minnesota on this issue. they've shown me some of the internet targeting that's really designed for people in our state because of the major somali
population and could you elaborate on this threat and what you believe the fbi should be doing for the recruiting efforts around the country? >> in that area, especially the developments of my basic view for senator feinstein was that we have to give them a continuum to prevent plots and that is recruitment and fundraising to your question about financing and there's a whole range of things that terrorist organizations do early on continually. plots take time to germinate. we need to be in a position to find them early and stop them early. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> before i turn to senator
tillis, i'd like to give you an update on the schedule. part of this is to give our nominee some time for a break. three more senators will ask questions and then that ten-minute break will come. i'm going to be leaving for votes but i'll be back after that. senator sass will gavel in the community after we recess for the nominee to take a break. that will be around 12:40, 12:45. so you know that even though the vote takes a long time, we'll continue here. and then senator tillis, you're up next. i'm going to step out for my usual 12:00 telephone news conference with iowa press back in iowa. so i'll be back in ten minutes. >> mr. chairman, could i ask a clarification? what time are we breaking? >> 12:30 but you'll be asking questions at that time. so you will be the one that will recess the committee before the
vote. >> when do we vote? >> 12:30. >> but you may be just finishing your questions about that time. >> okay. >> and then you'll go vote and then senator sass is already over there. he'll come back and then hopefully we'll be able to -- i'll be back before that happens -- before he gets done or somebody else will take over. so democrats should plan on -- >> we are. >> okay. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator tillis, go ahead. >> thank you. tripp and caroline, your dad is doing a great job. and actually, i appreciate the way the committee is going. in total, you and i had 30 minutes to talk and you answered a lot of my questions. i want to drill down on one thing that i think is important to emphasize.
i have a law enforcement advisory committee that i established when i became senator. i meet with people down in the state on a frequent basis. one of the things that i want to amplify that senator klobochar said was the importance of working with state and local law enforcement agencies to get the best resources to support these investigations. one of the things that i think is important, and i'm kind of curious to see your own view of it, is what's foundational in making those work are the equitable sharing programs that provide these local agencies with resources as a result of seizures. do you think that's an effective program that should remain in place? >> i've heard nothing but good things about those arrangements. i'm not an expert in them. it's been years since i've focused on that but certainly the ability for federal law enforcement to provide all manner of support, whether partnering on investigations, technical support, grants, lots
of things that the federal government can do to, again, as i said before, have the state and local law enforcement be force multipliers to protect us all. >> thank you. as you get into there, because the support for the program has ebbed and flowed and at one point it acquiesced for a while and caused disruptions in a handful of cases nationwide, maybe one instance in my state. i think wethat. there are misconceptions about how the program is run, whether or not there were any abuses of it. if those are true, we need to work on that. threatening or sending uncertainty out there could have a chilling effect on investments that local law enforcement could make in anticipation of resources. that better ep able to work with agencies. can we talk about going into section 215, 702, the importance you believe it has for the
investigative process? >> yes, senator. the of course it's been years since i dealt with fisa. which i did you know quite a bit in my past tour of duty in government service. and 702 itself was of course passed after i had left government. but from everything i've heard from the intelligence community, just like i said earlier that i don't have any reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment of the efforts by russia to interfere with our election. so, too, i have no reason to doubt what i hear in the intelligence community's assessment about the importance of section 702, as a vital tool in our efforts to protect america. i look forward to learning more about that tool. and about how it can be strengthened, enhanced and used effectively and appropriately. but everything i've heard suggests to me that that's a tool that needs to be high
priority for the country to make sure it gets renewed appropriately. >> i think it would be very important again as we, we discuss it and we debate maybe some, some safety measures to make sure it's not abused. i think most of them are already in place, i think it's very important. probably a little bit of time with the director of national intelligence who before the senate armed services committee said that people will die if we go dark. that's a pretty profound statement from a high-ranking official. i think we need to just look ahead to make sure we have to preserve those kinds of tools for the agency and other intelligence agencies. the i guess the only other question that i have of you, i'm going to yield back some of my time and i apologize, i won't be here for the next round, because i'll be presiding, unless senator sass would li wousasse
preside. think you've been very direct in answer to senator sasse's questions and other questions about russian meddling. i don't think there's anybody in the congress would that doubt that russians have meddled in the elections. the emergence of the cyberdomain has amplified their ability to do it more quickly and maybe on a broader basis. assuming that beyond what's already under investigation, do you, do you have any sense of what more the fbi would do beyond the investigation that director mueller is tasked with that you could conceive that you all may proceed with? >> senator i think there's more that i don't know than that i do. as an outsider sitting before this committee. so i look forward to making that a high priority. i will say that in addition to providing all appropriate support to former director mueller's special counsel investigation there is of course
also a counterintelligence function that the fbi has to play. and i'm sure there are things that the fbi working with its partners in the intelligence community will need to do to, to protect us going forward which is sort of a different role than what special counsel mueller was presumably doing which was more of a backwards-looking type of thing. there's synergy between the two. lessons learned and that kind of thing. >> i thank you and again, you should be first very proud that you were nominated for this position. you should be very proud of the, of the demeanor, the kinds of questions and the insights that others on this committee have given to you that i think it's a true testament to the quality of your work experience and the quality of you as the next director of the fbind i look forward to supporting your nomination. thank you and congratulations to your family. >> thank you, senator.
>> i was deferring to the senator from california, but senator franken, i think you're up. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, mr. wray, for meeting with me. yesterday i enjoyed our meeting. it was a good meeting. actually, senator tillis asked a question i wanted to ask, which was what the role going forward of the fbi is distinct from former director mueller's, as a special prosecutor would be, you answered that question. but i'm glad that you answered that question saying that part of what the fbi will be doing is working so this doesn't happen again. because i think that we, we got to keep our eye on that ball. because 2018 will be upon us soon and we don't want this to happen again. now before i turn to my questions, i'd like to first thank senator hatch.
for his work on the child protection improvement act and i would thank you for your commitment to help us get that, that bill passed and done. this is, it helps organizations like organizations that do mentoring for kids, to get background checks, so that vulnerable people, this is also for people who work with seniors or for the elderly. they should be able to effectively screen their workers and their volunteers to make sure that they're trustworthy. so thank you for your commitment on that this is something we've been trying to get down for a while and i have these groups that are doing unbelievably great work. asking for this. and i thank you for that. and for the record, senator graham, i think he would have made a great fbi agent. and i'm glad that also that he's in the senate.
that said, i don't know about the article, the january politico article, that suggested someone in the ukraine wanted to pass information off to the clinton campaign. but i think i know the answer, i think you know the answer to the question. did the ukraine or ukraine rather, hack the rnc's database? did they hack kellyanne conway. did the clintons want to build a hotel in kiev? i think there's a big difference here. and we know what russia did. and that's that's a big deal. and thank you for saying that part of your job is, is, is making sure it doesn't happen
again. we here of course have oversight over the fbi. will you come before us periodically so that we can do our oversight in. >> yes, senator, i expect i'll be seeing a fair amount of the committee if confirmed. >> uh-huh. and likewise do you think that attorney general sessions should come before us, periodically, so we can exercise our oversight? >> well senator, i don't speak for the attorney general and his appearances, but i'm sure he values this committee, having been a member of it and would need to appear before it periodically. >> i agree. let me ask you about when, when director comey was fired, one of the justifications was made was that director comey had lost the confidence of rank-and-file fbi agents. you've known jim comey for a
long time. and you've worked alongside him and you, you know a good number of people at the fbi back from your time at the justice department. is that your experience, talking to them? >> well senator, obviously i haven't done a scientific sampling of the 36,000 men and women of the fbi. >> why not? sorry, go ahead. >> appreciate your patience with me on that one. but -- but all the people that i've spoken with at the fbi, from senior people down to rank-and-file people, strike me as the same fbi i've always known and loved. which is people who are mission-focused. who believe in what they're doing. who are going to follow the facts and the law wherever it takes them. they've got their head down. their spirit up and they're charging ahead. now if there's somebody somewhere, who feels that, that
could be. >> you don't think director comey is a nut job, right? >> that's never been my experience with him. >> okay. >> i'm glad to hear that. if you are asked in some kind of setting by the president, to stop an investigation of somebody, aside from saying no. >> i would report it to the deputy attorney general assuming he wasn't sitting here with me listening and we would have a discussion about what we could lawfully share with whom. i would want to make sure all
the right people knew. >> want to thank senator klobuchar for bringing up hate crimes. this is what former director comey explained about hate crimes. they're different from other crimes, because they strike at the heart of one's identity. strike at our sense of self, our sense of belonging, the end result is loss of trust. is loss, loss of trust, loss of dignity and in the worst case, loss of life. that loss of dignity is what makes hate crime so personicious, when an act of violence is motivated by hate against a particular group, properly identifying that act as a hate crime and prosecuting it as such can go a long way to restoring that dignity. but hate crimes are often under-reported. both by victims and by state and local law enforcement.
in part that's because the federal hate crime's law does not require state and local police departments to report incidents to the fbi so there's often little incentive to do that. but recently an investigation by journalists revealed that at least 120 federal agencies are not young loading information about the heat crimes that they investigate and prosecute into the fbi's database. even the fbi isn't recording all of the hate crimes it investigate into its own database. and that to me is a problem. we need accurate data about the scope of the challenge. in order to appropriately direct prevention, enforcement, resources. but we can't do that if we don't know how many incidents there are or where they've taken place. if the federal government isn't keeping accurate data in its own databases, how can we expect
state and local police departments to step up? >> well senator, i share your concern about the need for accurate data. >> i'm not familiar with exactly how the reporting system works or as you're describing maybe doesn't work right now. but it's something that i would look forward to learning more about and drilling down on and trying to figure out how it can be done better. >> would you commit to me to just help address this problem and work to improve boarding by state and and local entities. of the number of heat crimate c that they are dealing with? >> i would commit to taking a hard look at the issue early if my tenure and look for ways we could work together on the issue. >> thank you very much. mr. wray i've been very impressed with our meeting, i've been impressed with our testimony here today. you've come here at a hard time,
this is under very extraordinary circumstances. and i thank you for your willingness to take on this job. i looking around, i'm feeling that you've had a good hearing today. best of luck to you, sir. >> thank you, senator that means a lot. >> senator kennedy? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. wray, you have a very impressive resumé and i agree with senator franken, i think you've done, done very well today. who interviewed you for this job? >> senator, i was contacted originally by deputy attorney general rosenstein, the first inkling i had in any shape or fashion that today was even a
gleam in anybody's eye. i met shortly thereafter with deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions together. the two of them. as has been publicly reported. i think it was the day after memorial day, i had a brief m t meeting at the white house that was attended by several people from the white house, include the president as well as several people from the department. then i was announced as the intended nominee. >> indulge me a second. for my second question i have to lay a little bit of a foundation. and some of my colleagues have alluded to this today. our country began as a, a
self-reliant lightly taxed debt-averse union of states. but our country's changed a lot in a couple hundred years. i don't mean this to be a pejorative statement. mean it to be factual. the power of the federal government, the united states government, is breathtaking. and i don't think there's a single agency that is more symbolic of that power than the fbi. >> you can ruin people's lives. hopefully when that happens, they deserve it. at some point who did what to whom in the last election is going to be a distant memory. at some point the investigation
of russia's interference in the election will be over. but what will remain is the fbi and its reputation. i don't think the fbi is a political body. not the rank-and-file members. i don't want to believe that. and i don't believe that. but i worry about the perception that some americans might have. about the fbi. based on some of the testimony that this committee and others have heard in the past, not today. here's what i'm looking for. i want you to be apolitical. i don't want you to exhaust yourself trying to make political friends up here. i want you to be socrates.
i want you to be dirty harry with the bad guys, and i want you to tell me how you're going to do that in this environment. >> well senator, first let me say that i have, i think a heightened appreciation for the point that you're making about the power of the fbi and what you said about the fbi's ability to ruin people's lives. one of the things that i did even as head of the criminal division was i tried to meet with every new hire, we're talking about over 400 lawyers, every time we had a new hire, i would spend 10-15 minutes with that person and one of the points i would try to make is that the decisions that that prosecutor would make, and the same thing would be true, obviously for fbi agents in spades, short of their wedding or a death in their family, the
public's interaction with law enforcement is the most meaningful impactful performance those people ever have. and so prosecutors and agents need to conduct themselves in a way that remembers that. and remembers that power and remembers how much significance they have. these are not just the people they deal with. whether it's targets of investigations, witnesses, victims, family members, jurors, it doesn't matter. all of those people will remember their interaction with law enforcement in a way that people in law enforcement do this every day marks not remember quite as vividly. need to conduct themselves in a way that keeps that in mind. second response i come back to the point i made in answer to senator klobuchar. the importance of the process, the process needs to have integrity. the process needs to be independent. the process needs to be free from favor, free from influence,
free from fear, free from partisan politics. because if people have confidence in the process, then they have confidence in the results, sometimes the results will be charges, but they need to have confidence. >> let me ask you about the process. i appreciate your answer, counselor. i think, i think history will demonstrate that white houses have been offering their advice to the fbi director for decades. where do you draw the line? i mean if the white house calls you, i'm anxious to know or curious to know how it works internally. if the white house calls you and says we were reading about a story on medicaid fraud and in a particular state. and we think you ought to look, look into that. is that appropriate?
>> my response to something like that, senator, would be to say, if you have evidence, same thing i would say to anybody in this country. if you have evidence of a crime that you think the fbi needs to look at. give us the evidence. we'll take a look at it we'll make an assessment. we'll play it by the book. just like with any witness who is supplying information, i would consider the source. and i would try to take into account under the particular circumstances if there was any other agenda or anything else going on. but the white house might have information about in your hypothetical, about a crime that might need to be investigated. and i would take that seriously. just like i would from anybody. >> all right. >> suppose the attorney general, who i know has recused himself. let's suppose for a moment, i don't want to personalize this. let's suppose an acting attorney general called you and said stop
referring to the russian investigation as an investigation and refer to it as a matter. what would you do? >> well senator, i think i would need to understand why they thought the description was inaccurate. i tend to be somebody who listens with an open mind to hear what the explanation is but if i disagree with the characterization, i'm going to have to play it by the book. and call what it is. >> well suppose the reason were you asked to do that is because matter plays better with the public than investigation. >> then i would try to persuade the person asking me as to why the request was ill-considered. >> what if they said, do it anyway. >> i would consult with the appropriate ethics officials and make a judgment about what my next course of action should be. >> and what if they said the ethics -- strike that.
i don't know, let's don't speculate what the ethics people would say. >> we have an extraordinary crime problem in new orleans. we're rapidly becoming the murder and armed robbery capital of the western hemisphere. if you're confirmed, and i believe you will be, can i count on you to within the limited scarce resources you have, and i'll, all resources are scarce, ought to be considered to be scarce. can i count on to you give us a little advice and help? we're wrestling with a huge crime problem. and we're losing. >> well senator, can you count on me to take a hard look and figure out how we can be more effective in new orleans, just like we need to figure out how to be more effective in every
city that's targeted by violent crime. >> thank you, mr. wray. >> thank you, senator. >> madam chair, madam ranking member, i was handed a note and i'm supposed to say, about you you can say if you like, that we will, we will, kind of like senator nunn, isn't it? we will stand in recess for ten minutes. if i had a gavel i would bang it. b but. >> "washington journal" is with your phone calls. and live coverage of the house has been work on the defense authorization bill. in about an hour, we will talk david schweikert about raising the debt ceiling.
in npr justice correspondent terry johnson on fbi director or nominee christopher wray and the future of the fbi. on congressman gregory meeks investigation into russian interference in u.s. election. announcer: ♪ host: good morning. it is thursday, july 13. president trump has left washington for paris. today, he ll meewith emmanuel macron. they will hold a joint news conference later this morning. look for our coverage on www.c-span.org. more in today's papers about the president's son meeting with that russian lawyer last summer. the males revealed by donald trump jr. have triggered a closer look at surveillance of russian medications. tma