tv Americas News HQ FOX News May 8, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
meanwhile, thank you very much for joining us today on this monday. "america's news hq" starts now. julie, great to have you here. >> we are only minutes away from a critical hearing on capitol hill. former acting attorney general sally yates set to testify today on her discussions with the trump administration about michael flynn and his potential ties to russia. good afternoon everyone. i'm maria bartoromo. the white house reacting moments ago to new reports that president obama warned then president elect donald trump personally against hiring michael flynn as national security adviser. we have fox team coverage right now. chris stirewalt standing by. katherine herridge is on capitol hill this afternoon at the hearing. and we begin with white house correspondent kevin corn on the white house lawn.
president obama warned president trump ab flynn. tell us more. >> reporter: well, he warned him. we did get that confirmed today. but i think it's fair to give context to that warning. keep in mind flynn had already been fired by president obama. flynn had been openly critical of the obama administration. so when you look at it through the context of what was happening at the time, by the way, he had already been reupped as someone who had the highest level of clearance, reupped by the obama administration. when you take all that together, you might understand why the president was just a little skeptical perhaps of the admonition of the outgoing president. >> the president never disclosed details of meetings he had. it's true the president, president obama, made it known he wasn't exactly a fan of general flynn's which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. given general flynn had worked for president obama, was an
outspoken critic of president obama's short comings. the question you have to ask yourself is if president obama was truly concerned about general flynn, why didn't he suspend general flynn's security clearance? why did the obama administration let flynn go to russia and receive a fee? >> reporter: there you have it, just like that. those questions i think will be the kind of questions we expect to happen in the hearing later today, maria. >> thank you very much. does the white house believe that sally yates was responsible in part for flynn's removal? >> reporter: the short answer is, they're not saying publicly. privately, i think they would tell you, and i have heard on background from various levels within the administration, that it's not a yates problem directly. flynn made the decision to be less than candid with the vice president. here's what sean spicer had to say today. >> i think you guys are well aware of the president's concern about spilling of classified and
other sensitive information out into the open. something that should concern every american. the president's made it very clear since he took office that that's a big concern of his. and so the idea that classified information made its way into the press is something that i think while we're asking all of these questions is one of the ones the senators should ask. how did that information get out into the open like that? >> reporter: and that's what the president is essentially asking, maria. he wants to know, how did this happen? he tweeted as much, hinting at that idea. i'm sure that will be at least in part some of the angle of the inquiry that we are likely to hear this afternoon. >> interesting tweet the president sent out earlier. just ask sally yates how it got into the president. he says it as it is. thank you very much, kevin. want to head down pennsylvania avenue to capitol hill. that is where the senate hearing is about to take place any minute. chief intelligence correspondent katherine herridge joins us now.
good afternoon. >> reporter: thank you very much. as you just mentioned with kevin at the white house, the president wrote this morning that he thought the senators who will convene this hearing under half hour from now behind me, they ought to be asking yates will she was the source of these classified leaks. that came up just about an hour ago. >> does the president believe sally yates was the leaker? >> again, the tweet speaks for itself. he's saying the senate should ask those questions. >> reporter: worth a refresh on the timeline before the hearing begins about 20 minutes from now. late december there were a series of conversations between mike flynn, the incoming national security adviser, and the russian ambassador. right about the same time, december 29th, the obama administration levelled new sanctions against russia for its interference in the u.s. election. fast forward to mid january and the incoming vice president said on the sunday shows that during the course of those conversations between flynn and the russian ambassador, there was no discussion of the
sanctions. sally yates knew otherwise and went to the white house at the end of january to tell the white house council that they had a big problem. there was a serious conflict and discrepancy between what the white house was saying publicly and what she knew to be the case based on the transcripts. then about three weeks later, flynn resigned from his post. those who support mike flynn say he did nothing wrong in the conversation with the russian ambassador. he did something all of these incoming national security advisers do, which is lay the ground work and try to strengthen the relationship. and he made no promises for sanctions. he urged the russians not to dig a deeper hole before a new administration and a new set of eyes could look at the situation. maria? >> what happens now? what are we expecting from the former national director of intelligence? >> reporter: i'd emphasize that what we have heard consistently is they had seen no evidence that there was collusion between members of the trump administration and moscow during that election period. this is what the dni said on the
sunday talk shows not too long ago. >> we did not include any evidence in our report -- and i say our, that's nsa, fbi, with my office the director of national intelligence that had anything anything, that had any evidence of collusion. there was no evidence included in our report. >> reporter: what you want to be watching for today is whether dni clapper really sticks with that conclusion, that he saw no evidence of collusion in their intelligence review with russia. the other key player here is susan rice former national security adviser under president obama who is really at the heart of these unmasking allegation. we know flynn wasn't masked. he was picked up during routine surveillance of foreign targets, in this case the russian ambassador. she was given the opportunity to testify publicly today along with yates and clapper. she declined on the basis of two points.
she said it was too short notice. the invitation coming about two weeks ago. and that it was not extended on a bipartisan basis. that is not to say that rice is unwilling to cooperate with this investigation. her lawyer indicated that she will testify to members of these committees, but we need to be in a nonpublic, classified session. maria? >> they have been at this a long time and still no evidence of it. thanks so much. right now we want to look more into this. we bring in fox politics editor chris stirewalt. your reaction? >> democrats are certainly not gonna pass up on the chance to rub donald trump's nose in michael flynn again. an there a story today that basically sums it up. they thought the president had done -- had his first real success on the legislative side with getting the first version of cuts of obamacare through the house. then democrats just want to make sure it's back to russia,
russia, russia, soon as they get back to town. we know what's up. >> exactly right. let's talk about the trump tweet. the president tweeted earlier on the hearing. general flynn he said was given the highest security clearance by the obama administration but the fake news tell -- doesn't like talking ab that. ask sally yates how classified information got into the newspapers shortly after she explained to it the white house counsel. >> donald trump doesn't have anybody but himself to blame for michael flynn because he got warned. obama warned him. his own advisers warned him about flynn and that flynn was not somebody he wanted to have close to him. and especially in a position as sensitive as nsa. the russia stuff, conspiracy st. too much baggage, not the right choice. so, yes, he wants to blame obama
and others. it took trump about a month of being in office before he decided flynn had to go and that he would listen to those voices from people around him that told him flynn was not suited for the job. he learned and moved on. democrats still want him to pay the price. they still want him to say, yeah, but what about michael flynn? in the end, it doesn't go anywhere. unless there's some new revelation, unless there's something else, trump found out about the problems with flynn or came to admit the problems with flynn, and moved on. >> what about the issue of the leaking? who's gonna take the responsibility for leaking all of this information out into the public? obviously obama holdouts were there and wanting this information to go widespread. >> oh, sure. the practice of coming up with a packet of information and dumping it into enough desks and laps so there is plausible deniability for any individual who can say, it wasn't me who leaked that out. so if you drag that bait through
congress especially, you know that inso doing it, it's putting it in a provocative position where people will leak this stuff out. that's very clearly what we saw in the closing days of the obama administration. they pushed that stuff out in front of democratic members of congress knowing and hoping, i'm sure, that they would pick up the phone, call their reporter contacts and get that stuff out there to try to box trump in. >> yeah, but this is a bigger, broader issue. he doesn't have the staff and the loyalists that he needs within the white house. they are against him. and leaking things out. we don't know that it's necessarily over because he's got so many holdouts and unfilled positions, chris. >> they do need to be careful about leaving these positions unfilled. the trump administration has still not filled a lot of these posts and there's said to be infighting inside the administration. whatever the reason, they do need to get those positions filled. but we also would remember this. they leak, the trump people
leak. how you get your message out, how people try to frame these discussions is via leakage. that's the way they do this. now, if there was something, and that's why the unmasking piece of this. this is why, did somebody abuse their power and privilege to try to bring harm unfairly to somebody? was this a frame job? that's a different question and much more consequential. in the category of who's leaking on who, i would say team trump probably moved past the point where there are obama holdovers in a position to do any harm to them in any way. >> you think the land mines are at this point we've already seen them or there are more land mines within the white house that were left behind? >> i would guess that we are far enough in, far enough along and trump now has in h.r. mcmaster, somebody widely respected, the team gets goods review, bipartisan good review, mattis at defense. his national security and intelligence team gets these top drawer review, people are very
happy with that, so i think we're probably moving past the phase where there could be any undeployed ordinance as you call it. >> one would think. chris, thank you. we are awaiting for sally yates to testify on capitol hill. that's going to happen within ten minutes about what she knew about michael flynn. it is the most talked about this afternoon. we'll talk with senator john kennedy next a member of the committee that will grill her moments from now. plus what's next on the agenda for healthcare? >> the premiums will lower. we're trying to get premiums lower, more choice, more options and the individual to go into the market and choose. ♪ the sun'll come out tomorrow... ♪ for people with heart failure, tomorrow is not a given. but entresto is a medicine that helps make more tomorrows possible. ♪ tomorrow, tomorrow... ♪ i love ya, tomorrow
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>> maria: members of the senate judiciary committee about to hold a hearing. the key witness, sally yates, set to testify about what she knew about the investigation and what she knew about michael flynn. louisiana senator john kennedy will be sitting on that panel. he joins us now. good to have you on the program. thank you very much for joining us this afternoon. >> thanks, maria. how are you? >> maria: what are you looking to get from sally yates? >> well, what she knew. i want to know when she knew it. and i want to know who she told it to. i like the president's suggested question. did she or does she know someone who did leak classified information? that's a very fair question. in terms of mr. flynn, i'm not really interested in relitigating that. i think it's pretty clear. i'll stipulate whether they'll admit it or not, i bet the white house will, too, that hiring
mr. flynn was a mistake. doesn't mean that the folks who hired him are bad people. just means that they're human. you don't generally not make a mistake when you have to fire somebody. what i am also interested in though is bringing this back home to the real issue, and that's the russian influence in america's election. we got to get to the bottom of this. that's what our investigative agencies are doing. i'm hoping to turn over every rock. i hope they do it quickly. i hope they present the facts to the american people and we'll let the chips fall where they may. frankly, i'm ready to move on. we've got other issues besides russia's involvement in the election. because guess what? they've been trying to become involved in our elections back to the nixon race. >> maria: exactly right. that's why i'm questioning you about it. you say let's get to the bottom of it. they've been working on this for a long time. this narrative started at the
democratic national convention when debbie wasserman schultz was pushed out and they wanted to talk about something else other than her e-mails. we're still hearing the same thing. we have no evidence of collusion. >> i wish they'd hurry up. we really need to get to the bottom of this. this issue's been raised in the minds of the american people. everybody in america doesn't read aristotle, but most americans get this. they're smart folks. they figured it out. there's been allegations that the russians somehow influenced the result of the election. let's get to the bottom of it, let the chips fall where they may. just because the russians tried to doesn't mean they succeeded. i don't think the russian activity and i believe there was russian activity, i don't think it determined the outcome of the election. that's my opinion. let's see the facts and put it behind us. >> maria: you said something that the president tweeted about. you will ask sally yates how
this information got into the public newspapers? >> you bet. i'm assuming somebody before it's my turn to question will ask that question. but i'm gonna talk to her exactly about this. i'm gonna ask her, has shefr leaked classified information or otherwise. if she says yes, i'm gonna ask her why she did it. she's under oath. who else has been leaking over there? let's get to the bottom of all of this and figure it out. >> maria: why are there so many obama holdouts still in place within the white house? >> you mean within government? >> maria: within government. >> all you have to do is look at the pace with which we've been able to confirm the president's nominees. i mean, at the rate we're going, and it's frankly the fault of my friends, the democrats, on the other side of the aisle. the rate we're going we'll have all of mr. trump's confirmed about the day he runs for re-election.
>> maria: do you think there will be anyone who takes the fall or anyone who is on the hook result of all of the obstructionism that we have seen since the president took office? >> well, there ought to be. every president is entitled to appoint his own people. if they're an ax murderer, that's one thing. but if they're qualified, just because you don't like their politics, doesn't mean you don't vote to confirm them. by this time most of president obama's major appointments had been confirmed. we just -- our process has been very slow because the democrats have used every procedural road block they are. >> maria: that's right. >> that's their right. they're entitled to do that, but what's the point? they know we've got the votes. >> maria: their.is they want to stop the president's agenda. >> that's not a fair point. that may be a point, but that's not a fair point. i'm talking about a good faith point.
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>> maria: sally kwraeuts to testify soon on russia and the election. this as we learned of new red flags raised over michael flynn. last november president obama reportedly warned president-elect trump about hiring flynn personally. days later, congressman elijah cummings raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
then a former member of the trump transition team warned flynn himself about contacting russian officials. fast forward to january, yates cautioned the white house that flynn could be, quote, compromised by russia. want to bring in senior director of research for bustle.com and a fox news contributor along with mercedes sclepp. jessica, your thoughts on what we heard? >> it's been a lot of information for one morning to come out. i know people on both sides of the aisle are shocked at the report that president obama, president to president, warned donald trump about michael flynn. i think it's great that information is coming out right before we hear from sally yates. i just heard a new report from nbc that said michael flynn hadn't gotten the next level of security clearance he needed from the cia to even be serving as an nsa adviser. so it will be interesting to hear what sally yates has to say about what she knew and what she told trump administration official, whether she even spoke to the president. but i think this russia issue is
definitely not going away and would it behoove republicans to start getting serious about it. >>the russia issue is not going away because we know russia has tried to interfere in american politic. that's not new. what i have an issue with is the fact that they're continuing to look at potential collusion when we hear month after month after month that there is, in fact, no evidence of collusion between the trump administration and the russians. >> that's right. i think not only the russia issue is not going away, but the michael flynn issue is not going away. michael flynn has been a bit of a daily headache for the trump administration because of the missed steps that he was involved in, whether it was being in contact with the ambassador and talking about the russian sanction, to the fact that during the time when he was in the trump campaign, lobbying for the turkish government. it really is something that i think, for the trump administration to be able to move away from the flynn phase
of the trump campaign during the beginning of his administration is critical. with thatsaid, obviously, the witch hunt is still on, trying to figure out if you can link up trump officials to russia. as we keep seeing with hillary clinton, she's not going to give up the narrative that it was russia to lost her the election. >> if it is a witch hunt and we are talking about the fact that michael flynn clearly had conversations he shouldn't have been having with russian officials, doesn't it justify it in and of itself? i'm not saying russia won the election. >> i say go forward on the investigation, absolutely. but the mere fact is there's a constant assumption especially from congressman like adam schiff, where he's gone other networks to make the case that there is collusion there without there being an actual finding or conclusion. many of these congress men have jumped the gun and just made that assumption, saying there is collusion, without going with the facts at this point. >> maria: right. that's just politics driving
that sentiment, nothing more than that. no evidence >> we'll see what happens. in a couple of hours we'll hear more. i totally take your point. i just think that on a day where we've heard so much about what a trump nsa adviser did in terms of conversations that were highly inappropriate, taking money, essentially acting as a foreign agent, that you can't say adam schiff is totally out of his mind. >> maria: what do you think of president trump's tweet about ask sally yates? >> i think there's a valid question. i believe, obviously, the president did need to tweet that out. the senator, like lindsey graham, is ready to ask that question about the fact that classified information is one of the reasons why they want to bring susan rice in to testify. it's to get down to the bottom of the fact that what is happening with classified information being leaked out to the newspapers. that's very troubling. >> they asked susan rice to testify but they haven't
subpoenaed her. do you think a subpoena is coming? >> i'm not really sure. i saw the push back on the susan rice request where it wasn't bipartisan, where everyone else that was requested to appear was coming from both sides of the aisle. i am perfectly capable to say that people play politics, but it seems to beafter the e, quote, unmasking, scenario came out that she was the one who was asking for information about what trump transition officials were doing, who they were talking to, that both democrats and republicans agreed that she had done nothing outside the bounds of normal protocol there. but i could see a subpoena coming for sure. both sides love to put their people up there. susan rice is a target ever since ben ghazi. >> maria: there is a conversation taking place this afternoon if obama knew that there were issues around michael flynn, why didn't they do anything about it? why didn't they stop his national security clearance? sean spicer talked about this
today. listen to this. >> president obama made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of general flynn. president obama was truly concerned ab general flynn, why didn't he suspend general flynn's security clearance which they just reapproved months earlier? additionally, why did the obama administration let flynn go to russia for a paid speaking engagement and receive a fee? if that was truly a concern more than just a person that had bad blood. >> maria: which is valid? senator lindsey graham just walking in the room. >> i think clearly president obama, he made it clear he's not a fan of michael flynn. that's a question to ask the pentagon. why didn't the pentagon suspend his clearance? obviously there seems to be more questions than answers at this point. we know clearly that flynn has been very critical of president obama. i think they filled out the story about president obama warning the president by saying the republicans should have warned president obama ab loretta lynch when she met with
president clinton on the tarmac. >> i don't think so either. i think sean spicer had a ditch cult day today. most of his days are actually difficult. but this one in particular. using the argument that the obama administration did this to us when president trump ran on a campaign of extreme vetting is unbelievable to me that someone in your own national security circle you didn't even vet well enough of you going after people who are in refugee camps for two years be surveiled. as i said earlier on the program, he needed another level of clearance to be able to be doing his job and he never got that. >> maria: we are watching the beginnings of the hearing. we're waiting the senate judiciary hearing on the russia probe. sally yates is entering the room right now. we are gonna take this live as soon as it does start. senator lindsey graham getting
ready to begin the hearing. pher saeu tky dy, what do you e to hear? >> sally yates, there is a sense she will contradict what the white house has said. i don't think it really changes very much unless there's something revealing. we're not going to get details. the lot of the information that she would have to deliver is classified. we might only get a limited scope in this testimony and during this committee hearing because of the fact that most of the information is classified. >> maria: jump in here, chris, as we watch the cameras take pictures before they begin. we'll take you there as soon as you're done. >> sally yates is poised to become an even greater hero to the democratic party than ever before. i believe by the time today is over they will be talking about sally yates for president. they love her. >> maria: let's listen to senator lindsey graham beginning this hearing now. >> -- followed by some
questioning and be seven minute rounds initially. we'll try to do a second round of five minutes to both of the witnesses. thank you for coming. try to make this as reasonably short as possible. if you need a break, please let us know. so, people wonder what are we doing and what are we trying to accomplish? in january the intelligence community unanimously said that the russians, through their intelligence services, tried to interfere in the 2016 american presidential election. that it was the russians who broke into the democratic national committee and it was russians who helped empower wiki leaks. no evidence that the russians changed voting tallies, how people were influenced by what happened. only they know and god knows. but i think every american should be concerned about what the russians did. from my point of view, there's no doubt in my mind it was the russians involved in all the things i just described.
not some 400 pound guy sitting on the bed or any other country. russia is up to no good when it comes to democracy all over the world. dismembering the ukraine, the baltics are always under siege by russian interference. so why? we want to learn what the russians did. we want to find a way to stop them because they're apparently not gonna stop until somebody makes them. the hearing that was held last week with director comey asking a question, is it fair to say russian government still involved in american politics? and he said, yes. so i want house members and senators to know the presidential campaign of 2016, it could be our campaigns next. i don't know what happened in france, but somebody hacked into mr. macron's account and we'll see who that may have been. this is sort of what russia does to try to under mind democracy. so what are we trying to
accomplish here? to validate the findings of the intelligence committee as much as possible, and to come up with a course of action that's bipartisan in nature. because it was the democratic party of 2016 were the victims. could be the republican party of the future. when one party's attacked, all of us should feel an attack. this should be an article v agreement between both major parties, all major parties, that when a foreign power interferes in our election, doesn't matter who they target, we're all in the same boat. secondly, the unmasking, the 702 program. quite frankly, when i got involved in this investigation, i didn't know much about it. director comey said the 702 program, which allows warrants for intelligence gathering and vital intelligence tool. i have learned a bit about unmasking. what i have learned is disturbing. so i don't know exactly all the details, what goes into
unmasking an american citizen being incidentally surveiled when they are involved with a foreign agent. i'd like to know more. i want to make sure that unmasking can never be used as a political weapon in our democracy. so i'm all for hitting the enemy before they hit us. intelligence gathering is essential, but i do believe we need to take a look at the procedures involved in 702, particularly how unmasking is requested, who can request it and what limitations exist, if any, on how the information can be used. so that's why we're here. we're here to find out all things russia. and the witnesses are determined by the evidence and nothing else. and the 702 reauthorization will come before congress very soon. i, for one, have a lot of questions i didn't have before. i have enjoyed doing this with senator whitehouse, senator feinstein and grassley have been terrific. let it be said the chairman and
ranking member have allowed us to do our job, have empowered us, have been hands on and it's much appreciated. with that i'll direct it to senator whitehouse. >> thank you for what you are doing, investigating the threat of russian interference in our election. in january the russian government on the orders of putin engaged in an election influenced campaign throughout 2016. in march fbi director comey confirmed that and i quote him here, the fbi as part of its counter intelligence mission is investigating the rush government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with trump campaign and the russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. the fbi and the intelligence community's work is appropriately taking place outside of the public eye. our inquiry serves broader aims. to give a thorough public
accounting of the known facts, depose the questions that still need answers and to help us determine how best to protect the integrity and proper function of our government. the subcommittee's first hearing on march 15th we heard from expert witnesses about the russian tool box for interfering in the politics of other countries. now we can ask which of these tools were used against us by the russians in 2016? here's a check list. propaganda fake news trolls and bots. as clint watch told the selection committee in march, russia state sponsored media outlets in the leadup to the election, quote, churned out false news story sz and conspiracies, providing a weaponized fake news effort openly supporting don'ted a trump's candidacy quoting again while consistently offering negative coverage of secretary clinton. this was to again quote watts a deliberate well organized well
resourced well funded, wide ranging effort, end quote, by russia, using trolls and bots to amplify its messages, particularly across social media. these facts are not disputed by any person so this is a yes on the check list. hacking and theft of political information. throughout 2015 and 2016 russian intelligence service and state sponsored hackers conducted cyber operations against u.s. political targets including state and local election boards, penetrating network, probing for vulnerables and stealing private information and e-mails. so this is another yes. timed leaks of damaging materials. russian intelligence cut outs and sympathetic organizations like wiki leaks and dc leaks then timed the release of stolen victim data to maximize its political effect, manipulate
public opinion and thereby influence the outcome of an election. long-time trump association roger stone admits having interacted with them. timing can matter. on october 7, just hours after the damaging access hollywood tapes of donald trump were made public, wiki leaks began publishing e-mails stolen from clinton campaign manager john podesta. so, yes again. assassination and political violence. last october russian military intelligence reportedly conspired to assassinate the then prime minister of montenegro as part of a coupe attempt. in 2004 the prime -- was disfigured when he was poisoned in a suspected attempt by russian agents. russian opposition figures are routinely the targets of state directed political violence. vladamir korimasa survived two
attempts. thankfully we have no evidence of that happening here. investment control. key economic sectors. we learned from heather connolly's testimony in our last hearing that the kremlin play book is to manipulate other countries through economic penetration. heavily investing in critical sectors of the target country's economy to create political leverage. putin's petro politics uses russia's control of natural gas to create political pressure. but no as to that tactic here so far. shady business and financial ties. russia exploits the dark shadows of economic and political systems. fbi director comey testified last week that the united states is becoming the last big haven for shell corporations where the corporate forum allows the concealment of criminal funds and can allow foreign money to influence our political system. since the citizens united decision, we've seen
unprecedented dark money flow in our elections from 501c4 organization. we don't know who's behind that dark money or what they're demanding in return. using shell corporations, russia establishes illicit financial relationships to develop leverage against prominent figures through the carrot of continued bribery or the stick of threatened disclosure. how about here? well, we know that president trump has long pursued business deals in russia. he's reported to have done or thought to do business there since the mid 1990s. as he chased deals in russia throughout the 2000,he tkep taoeuzed a colorful character to develop real estate products under the trump name. felix himself has had difficulties with the law. fater said that he would pitch business ideas directly to trump and his team on a constant basis. as raoepbly as 2010, fater had a trump organization business card
and an office in trump tower. donald trump junior said in september 2008 that he made half a dozen trips to russia in the preceding 18 months, noting russian investors were heavily involved in trump's new york real estate projects. we see a lot of money pouring in from russia, he said. one trump property in midtown manhattan had become within a few years of opening a prominent depoz toeur of russian money according to a report in bloomberg business week. so here there are still big questions. of course president trump could clarify these by releasing his tax returns. corrupting and compromising politicians. in testimony before the judiciary committee last wednesday, director comey acknowledged financial leverage has been exploited by russian intelligence over many decades. back to the days of joseph alsa, they used compromising material to pressure and manipulate targeted individuals with the prospects of damaging
disclosures. has russia compromised, corrupted, cultivated or experted improper influence on individuals associated with president trump, his administration, his campaign or his businesses? another big question mark. we know that president trump has had in his orbit a number of very russia friendly figures. in august 2015, trump first met infor naturally with michael flynn who was director of the intelligence agency and developed strong professional relationships with russian military intelligence. in december of that year, flynn traveled to moscow for a paid speak appearance at an anniversary gal la for rt where he was briefly seated next to vladamir putin. quite a seat for a retired american general. two months after that trip, flynn was reportedly serving as informal national security adviser to trump. trump identified a little known investor carter page as one of his foreign policy adviser. in march 2016, he said friends
and associates had been hurt by sanction against russia. on april 27th, 2016, trump and several of his advisers including jeff sessions met russia's ambassador to the a c speech. the speech, which was hosted by the center for the national meeting had been arranged by jarrod kushner. he told the washington post he had multiple contacts with the trump campaign both before and after the election. in the days after the november election russia's deputy foreign minister confirmed that his government had communicated with the trump team during the campaign. and we know michael flynn spoke with ambassador kisliak on december 29th, same day president obama announced punitive sanctions again russia for interference in the 2016 election. trump transition and
administration officials there after made fall statements to the media and the public about the content of flynn's conversations with kisliak apparently as a result of flynn having misled them. this led president trump to ask for flynn's nomination. downplaying the significance of individuals involved. more than 100 days into the trump administration and nearly two years since he declared his candidacy to be president, only one person has been held accountable for that. michael flynn. the trump administration maintained flynn's conversations were not improper. he simply lost the confidence of the president. we need a more thorough accounting of the facts. many years ago an 18 minute gap
transfixed the country and got any more attention. in this case we have an 18 day gap between the notification of the white house that a senior official had potentially been compromised and action taken against that senior official's role. at best the trump administration displayed serious errors of judgment. at worse they may reflect efforts of corruption at the hands of intelligence. my sincere hope is that this hearing and those to come will help us find out. thank you chairman. >> our two witnesses are well known and will be sworn in. he served his country for decades in uniform and out. dedicated his life to intelligence gathering. we appreciate that. miss yates was the former deputy attorney general, well respected by people in the legal profession. thank you both for coming. if you will please rise.
raise your right hand, please. do you affirm that the testimony you are about to give to this subcommittee is the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> mr. clapper. >> ranking member of the subcommittee. certainly didn't expect to be before this committee or any other committee of congress again so soon since i thought i was all done with this when i left government. and this is one of my first two hearings this week. understandably, concern about the russian interference in our election process is so critically serious as to merit focus, ultimately bipartisan focus by the congress and the american people. last year the intelligence community conducted an exhaustive review of russian interference into our presidential election process
resulting in a special intelligence community assessment or ica, as we call it. i am here to today to provide whatever information i can now as a private citizen on how the intelligence community conducted its analysis and communicated them to the trump transition team, to congress in an unclassified forum to the american public. i'll briefly address four topics since the ica was produced. because of classification and some things requested by the white house there are limits to what i can discuss. my direct official knowledge of any of this stopped on 20 january when my term of office was over. as you know the ics was a coordinated product from three agencies, cia, nsa and the fbi, not all 17 components of the intelligence community. those three. under my former office.
following extensive intelligence reporting to collect on and influence the presidential election, president obama asked us to do this in early december and have it completed before the end of his term. the two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies. they were given complete unfettered access to all sensitive raw intelligence data and importantly complete independence to reach their finding. they found the russian government pursued a multifacetted influence campaign in the runup to the election including aggressive use of cyber capabilities.
these russian activities were briefed first to president obama on the 5th of january and president elect trump on the 6th and to the congress via series of five briefings from the 6th through 20th of january. there were foot notes drawn from thousands of pages of supporting material. the key judgments in the unclassified version published on the 6th of january were identical to the classified version. while it's been over four months
since the issuance of the assessment as directors comey and rogers testified before the house intelligence committee on the 20th of march the conclusion and confidence levels reached at the time still stand. i think that's a statement to the quality and professionalism of the intelligence community people who produce such compelling intelligence report during a tumultuous controversial time under intense scrutiny and with a very tight deadline. throughout the public dialogue about the issue over the past few months, four related topics have been raised that could use some clarification. i would like to take a few moments to provide that clarification. first i want to address the meaning of, quote, unmasking, which is an unofficial term that's appeared frequently in the media as often i think misused and misunderstood. so it frequently happens that in the course of conducting lawfully authorized electronic
surveillance on foreign intelligence target, a collecting agency picks up communications involving u.s. persons. either they're direct interface with a validated foreign intelligence target or where there is discussion about those u.s. persons by validated foreign intelligence targets. under intelligence community pheupbmization procedures the identities of these u.s. persons are typically masked in reports that go out to intelligence consumers and they're referred to each report at a time as u.s. person one, u.s. person two, etc. however, there are cases when, to fully understand the context of the communication that has been obtained or the threat that is posed, the consumer of that collected intelligence may ask the identity of the u.s. person be revealed. such request explain why the unmasking is necessary and that explanation is conveyed back to the agency that collected the information. it is then up to that agency
whether to approve the request and to provide the identity. and if a u.s. person's identity is revealed that identity is provided only to the person who properly requested it, not to a broader audience. this process is subject to oversight reporting and in the interest of transparency, my former office publishes a report on the statistics of how many u.s. persons' identities are unmasked based on collection that occurred under section 702 which i'll speak in a moment. in 2016, that number was 1694. on several occasions i requested the identity of u.s. persons to be revealed. in each such instance, i made these requests so i could fully understand the context of the communication and the potential threat being posed. at no time did i ever submit a request for personal and political purposes or to voyeuristically look at raw intelligence, nor am i aware of
any instance of such abuse by anyone else. second is the issue of leaks. leaks have been complicated with unmasking but they are two very different things. an unmasking is a legitimate process that consists of a request and approval by proper authorities, as i have just described. a leak is unauthorized disclosure that is improper under any circumstance. i have hropb maintained during my career that leaks endanger national security, they compromise sources, methods and trade craft and they can put assets lives at risk. and for the record, in my long career, i have never knowingly exposed classified information in an inappropriate manner. third is the issue of counter intelligence investigations conducted by the federal bureau of investigation. while i can't comment in this setting on any particular counter intelligence investigation, it's important to understand how such investigations fit into and relate to the intelligence
community and at least the general practice i followed during my time as dni with respect to fbi counter intelligence investigations. when the intelligence community obtains information suggesting that a u.s. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that information with the lead investigating body which, of course, is the fbi. the bureau then decides whether to look into that information and handle any ensuing investigation, if there is one. given its sensitivity, given the existence of an investigation is closely held at the highest level. it was my practice to defer to the fbi director, both director mueller and then subsequently director comey on whether, when and to what extend they would inform me about such investigations. this stems from the unique position of the fbi which straddles both intelligence and
law enforcement. and as a consequence, i was not aware of the counter intelligence investigation director comey first referred to during his testimony before the house select committee on the 20th of march. and that comports with my public statements. finally, i'd like to comment on section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance amendments act, as it's called, what it governs and why it's vital. this provision authorizes a foreign intelligence surveillance court to approve electronic surveillance of nonu.s. persons -- let me repeat that. nonu.s. person, foreign intelligence targets outside the united states. section 702 has been a tremendously effective tool in identifying terrorists and other threats to us, while at the same time protecting the privacy and civil liberties of u.s. persons. and as the chairman, chairman graham indicated, section 702 is due up for reauthorization by congress this year. it was renewed in 2012 for five
years and expires on 31 of december this year. with so many misconceptions flying around, it would be tragic for section 702 to become a casualty of misinformation and for us to lose a tool that is so vital to the safety of this nation. in conclusion, russia's influence activities in the runup to the 2016 election constituted a high water mark of their long running efforts since the 1960s to disrupt and influence our elections. they must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource. and i believe they are now emboldened to continue such activities in the future, both here and around the world and to do so even more intensely. if there has ever been a clear call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our democratic political system, this episode is it. i hope the american people recognize the severity of this threat and that we collectively
counter before it further erodes the fabric of our democracy. i'll turn to my >> thank you. chairman graham, ranking member white houses and distinguished members of the subcommittee, i'm pleased to appear before you on this critically important topic of russian interference in the last presidential election and the related topics. for 27 years, i was honored to represent the people of the united states with the department of justice. i began as an assistant united states attorney in atlanta in the fall of 1989. like all prosecutors, i investigated and tried cases and worked hard to try to ensure the safety of our community and that those that violated our laws were held accountable.
overtop, through five republican and democratic administrations, i assumed greater leadership positions within the department. the u.s. attorney's office in atlanta, i served as chief of the fraud and public corruption section and appointed united states attorneys and had the privilege of serving as deputy attorney general for a little over two years. finally, the current administration asked me to stay on as acting attorney general. throughout my time at the department, i was incredibly fortunate to work with the talented career men and women at the department of justice who followed the facts and applied the law with tremendous care and dedication. and who are in fact the backbone of the department of justice. in every step, in every position, from ausa to acting attorney general, i always tried to carry out my responsibility to seek justice