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tv   Happening Now  FOX News  July 12, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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>> i didn't mean to interrupt his answer, i'm sorry. >> i think you've been an outstanding director. america is listening about what is going on in this hearing and you're going to be speaking pretty soon as the top cop in the land. are you familiar with the article from politico, january 11th, 2017 titled "ukrainian efforts to sabotage trump backfire costco? donald trump was the only presidential candidate who is boosted by officials of a former soviet bloc country. ukrainian government officials tried to up hillary clinton and undermined trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. they also disseminated documents indicating a top trump aid and corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter only to back away from the election. they helped clinton's allies
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researched damaging information on trump and his advisors. the ukrainian american operative who is consulting for the dnc met with top officials in the ukrainian embassy in washington in an effort to expose ties to paul manafort and russia, according to people. have you ever heard of those allegations before? >> i have not. >> i have no idea if they are true, but when you agree with me if they are true, that is wrong for the ukraine to be involved in our elections? >> yes, senator. >> i got you, that's a good answer. will you look into this? >> i'd be happy to dig into it. >> thank you, all right. are you familiar with the email problems we've had with donald donald, jr., in the last few days? >> i have not. i've heard that there is an issue, but i've spent -- >> this is an email sent
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june 3rd, 2016 by rod goldstone who is connected to the immense universe pageant and has ties to russia entertainment to donald junior. just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. the crown prosecutor of russia met with a -- they're meeting offered to provide the trump campaign some official documents that would incriminate hillary and be very useful to your father. this is obviously very high-level and sensitive information, but it's part of russia and its government support for mr. trump. what do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to him about it directly? i can also send this info to your father, but it is ultrasensitive, so wanted to send it to you first.
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17 minutes later, donald trump donald trump, jr., replied, "thanks rob, i appreciate that, i am on the road at the moment, but perhaps just speak to them in first. seems we have some time and if this is 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? >> senator , i'm hearing for te first time, your description of it, so i'm not really in a position to speak to it. >> let me ask you this. if i got a call from somebody saying the russian government wants to have lindsey graham get reelected, they've got dirt on lindsey graham's opponent, should i take that meeting? >> i would think you'd want to console with some good legal advisors before you did that. >> the answer is should i call the fbi? >> i think it would be wise.
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>> 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 nonstate actor is the kind of thing the fbi would want to know. >> i will say we should call you and that's a great answer. this is what don, jr., said saturday before the email came out. if i can find it here. this is his statement. about what i just read to you. ed 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 part of
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the russian government. it is not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up. i was asked to attend a meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person i would be meeting with before hand. do you think that's a fair summary of the contact between donald trump, jr., and this rod goldstone? >> senator, i don't know would be a fair summary. >> would you agree with me this is very misleading? >> senator again, i don't a full context. >> i want you to look at it and get back to the committee to find out about misleading. as brush our friend or our enem enemy? >> senator, i think russia is a foreign nation that we have to deal with very warily. >> do you think they're an adversary of the united states? >> in some situations, yes. >> do you think compromising our election is adversarial on their
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part? >> yes. >> do you think the russians did it when it came to the hacking into the dnc and podesta's emails? do you believe the conclusions conclusions -- >> as i said to your colleague, i have no reason to doubt the conclusions. >> that make you a good candidate to be an enemy of the united states? >> and an effort to interfere with our elections as an adversarial act as you said before. >> did you see the press conference james comey gave about the hillary clinton investigation? >> not life, but yes. >> would you have done that? >> there is an inspector general -- >> i'm asking about you. would you have done that? >> i can tell you that in my experience as a prosecutor, and his head as the criminal division, i understand there to be department policies that govern public comments about uncharged individuals. i think those policies are there
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for a reason. and i would follow those policies. >> he talked about somebody that was never charged in a sparing fashion, do you agree with that? >> that's the way i understood it. >> do also agree that he undertook the prosecutor's job by saying there's no case here? >> there is an inspector general investigation at -- >> you would not have done either one of those is what you're telling this committee, at least that's what i hope. >> i can't imagine a situation where i would be giving a press conference on an uncharged individual, much less talking about it. >> you say that mueller is a good guy, right? >> that's my experience, yes. >> and you'll do anything necessary to protect him from being interfered with when it comes to doing his job. >> absolutely. >> do you think that in light of the don, jr., email and the other allegations that this whole thing about trump campaign and russia as a witch hunt? is that a fair description of
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what we are all dealing with in america? >> i can't speak to the basis of those comments, i can tell you that my experience -- >> i'm asking you as a future fbi director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt? >> i do not consider dr. miller to be on a witch hunt. >> thank you. can the president fired director mueller, does he have the authority to fire him? >> i don't know the law on that. >> can you get back to us an answer that question? >> i'd be happy to take a look at it. >> do you realize you are stepping into the role of the director of the fbi at one of the most most contentious times in the u.s. politics? >> there has been a lot of contentious times in american politics, but this one certainly ranks up there. >> do understand the challenge that lies ahead for you because institutions, and the eyes of the american people, are suffering and the last thing we
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want to happen is for the fbi to fall out of favor of the american people? >> senator, as i said to you and our meeting, i fully understand that this is not a job for the faint of heart, and i can assure this committee, i am not faint of heart. >> i think in that committee, i told you that i wanted to be an fbi agent and it's a credit to the fbi that they never let me become one. [laughter] i never actually applied, it would've been a waste of my time, but i told you that i admire the men and women of the fbi because they are unsung heroes who work morning, noon, and night against terrorism, child pornography, you name it, they're out there doing it. you're their voice. this is a big honor, do you agree with that? >> yes, in fact, the reason i'm doing this is for this these p.
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when i was asked to take on the position, i got calls from 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 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 dems in the future. >> from my point, you're the right guy at the right time. >> thank you very much to your family and friends. you said a few words about mr. comey when you have extensive experience working within the department of justic justice. i would like to ask you, we are an unusual moment in american history where mr. comey was fired from his job and characterized by the president of the united states is a nut job and was fired for the reason by the president because the russian investigation was
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underway and the president believed it was a cloud on his presidency. mr. comey told us a little bit of hud's direct dealings with the president of the united states. two things really stood out. i think it may be fairly unique in the history of the united states. on one hand, you said that he, having been caught alone in the oval office with the president of the united states spoke to the attorney general inside, i don't want that to happen again. i want to witness -- 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 are asked me privately with no one else with the president of the united states as director of the fbi, what would be you or approach? >> my first step would be to call deputy attorney general rosenstein. there is a policy that applies to contacts between the white house and the department, it goes in both directions. in particular, he goes to any contact with respect to a
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particular case. there are obviously situations where the fbi director needs to be able to commune again with the president on national security matters, for example, but in my experience i would be unusual to have any kind of one-on-one meeting between any fbi director. >> unusual, but it happened. it happened to mr. comey and he decided he was uncomfortable being in the oval office alone with the president. as unusual as it may be, would you meet in the oval office with the president with no one else present? >> it would depend on the circumstances. i think would be highly unlikely, but i think i could imagine a situation where a base on national security matter with them i call for it. my preference on presumption would be that there should be people from the department working through the office of the attorney general so it's not
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a one-on-one meeting. i think the relationship between any fbi director in 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. >> was at mr. comey's decision decision -- you know that has evidentiary value. tell me your reaction, do you feel bound or at least 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 hashtag >> at a minimum, i would it take the approach i always take
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witches try to listen very carefully to what i'm hearing on the conversation. there would be times where i think the appropriate next step is for me to memorialize that, but i would value that on a case-by-case basis. >> you can correct me because i think you have much more experience, your memory of a conversation and a written contemporaneous report carried different evidentiary value and weight and a courtroom, is that not true? >> that's absolutely true. >> i do want to put words in your mouth, but what you're saying is under some circumstances, conversations with the president of united states should be memorialized in a contemporaneous written report. >> certainly, there would be situations where 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. >> are not letting you off that easy. of course, that is a responsibility as director. we are dealing with an extra ordinary situation here where a man you respected was fired,
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called a nut job, and the president said to russian visitors, we are 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? >> certainly, i would distinguish if this is what you're driving at between a routine conversation and a very significant, important conversation and the once a fall in the latter category, it would behoove me to make sure there is an appropriate record of that. >> we talked a lot about russia in this hearing and a threat to them nine states. you read the unclassified version of their attempt to have a cyber attack on the united states election campaign. now we have statements from the president of the united states
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suggesting "put an end i discussed forming an impenetrable cybersecurity unit so that cyber hacking and many other things to be guarded and safe." so now, we've all started with the present mess -- premise that russia tried to change the election. we understand that russia has been a bad actor around the world in many places and now we have the president saying, we are going to get together with them on the issues of cybersecurity. if it is proposed to you by the administration to create this cybersecurity unit and share information with the russians, what is your reaction? >> my reaction is a need to learn a lot more about the state of our cybersecurity threats and talk to the career intelligence community of professionals to be able to evaluate that response, but i wouldn't want to do anything that if i got that kind
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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, that's a bad analogy with russia, but i think there should be a cautionary feeling about any suggestion that we give to them, information about our cyber capabilities and security. one in that be your first reaction? >> my reaction is that any threat, any effort to interfere with our election systems, whether it's a state actor or a nonstate actor, something needs 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 would go further, but i'll leave that question. i had a good conversation with you yesterday about george w. bush's reaction about 9/11 when it came to the muslim-american population of the united states. i would appreciate it if you
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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 keeping america safe. >> it is something we talked about yesterday and first off, let me saying, 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 that he made it a special point of speaking out and saying that this was not a situation where we come in the war on terror or eyewear with muslim americans. he made an outreach to the community at a time when it would not have been by any
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measure politically expedient to do that. 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 and then environment. >> 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 work during world war ii when many were heading to internment camps for security purposes. what can you say on the record now, if you are chosen as director of the fbi, about your relationship working with patriotic, god-fearing, lawful muslim americans in our nation? >> i would say what i was saying just a a minute ago which is the fbi director and the fbi needs to be for all americans, including muslim americans and
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my experience and terrorism investigation have been some of the best leaves we ever got word from members of that community come up from muslim americans. i remember having conversations with, among others, u.s. attorney from your state, pat fitzgerald who is a friend of mine. well certainly we do face threats from certain radical ideologies, 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. >> congratulations to you and your family on this nomination. i appreciate your willingness to come back to public service at a time when i think the nation's confidence and its institutions has been shaken. i think it's very important to have somebody of your character,
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and experience serve as the next director because i think about confidence in the fbi has been shaken over recent events. i ask you when we met in my office about the rod rosenstein memo that he wrote, and i understand there is an inspector general investigation, i don't want to ask you specifically about the facts of that, but you would have an response to senator graham, you would never see it appropriate to hold a press conference about a criminal investigation. while declining prosecution, disclosed derogatory information about the target of an investigation, is that correct? >> as we discussed when we met, i don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on director comey's decision, i don't know what information he had, but i can tell you that in
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my experience both as a line prosecutor and head of the 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. i'm not an encyclopedic knowledge of the permit history. >> the direct reports to the deputy attorney general, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> the fbi can't prosecute cases on its own, can it? >> that's also correct. >> the fbi is the premier law enforcement agency in the world. it's an investigatory body and not a prosecutorial body, correct? >> that's correct. >> that role is exclusive to the attorney general and department of justice, correct? >> right.
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>> if an fbi director believes that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general have a conflict of interest, such as they don't trust the department of justice to conduct its business impartially, what's in fbi director or anybody else supposed to do? what is the part of the organization of the department of justice to 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 to decide whether prosecution were indeed appropriate. >> if there was a special counsel and place, then that would be the natural place to bring those concerns. the department has a chain of command, so if there were conflicts at a higher level, you can work your way down.
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there's also the inspector general did a part one of justice that under certain circumstances would be an appropriate outlet. you have to evaluate information and look at the rules. >> director comey said that when the attorney general of vallarta 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 camper, 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
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last year, he said the fbi's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage. it's affected the entire department of justice. you read the memo, i trust. and he concludes, as you know, he said as a result, 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 were 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 in your pledge never to repeat them. >> as we discussed when we met, deputy attorney general rosenstein's memo, which i did read, the way he describes his department's policy and practices is consistent with my
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understanding of those policies and practices in a way that i would tend to approach those policies and practices. it's 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, i believe you're a good man who has been dealt a difficult hand. he certainly was. even good people make mistakes and my view is mr. rosenstein lays out a pretty compelling rationale for why director comey refused to recognize the mistakes and why public confidence cannot be restored and to the partner justice or the fbi until he director would
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acknowledge those and pledge not to repeat them. thus the purpose of my questions and thank you for your answer. why is it important to have a separation between the fbi and the department of justice when it comes to the prosecution, the decision to prosecute a case? >> well -- it's been a system that's been in place since time memorial as far as i can tell. as a system that's occurred in both state and local. the difference between the police and the district attorney's office and et cetera. >> is to check on potential for abuse of power? >> the theory is prosecutor can evaluate the legal compliance, constitutional protections, compliance of the rules of evidence, exercise prosecutorial discretion, which is very important. if you collapse prosecutor and investigator into one role, it's
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one step away from having to judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one body. >> i agree more. on the fourth of july, i had a chance to read a great book, if you have a chance, hell hound on his trail. i don't know if you read the about j. edgar hoover and martin luther king assassination and the manhunt that the fbi conducted following that terrible and tragic event, but it pretty much lays out the case that j. edgar hoover, while he was responsible for modernizing the fbi and making it ensure that it was equipped to do the job that it has continued to do this day and an extra ordinary fashion, that at the same time, he had so much power that people were worried about his unchecked potential abuse on power. i would submit that it is important to have that
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separation and check on the fbi. as you point out, the prosecutorial discretion with the department of justice, 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 why am so interested in this, when i was in attorney general in texas, we try to learn from the 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 ways from using guns and carrying guns. using the power of the federal law so these would not be plea-bargain to weigh which they frequently are under the state
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system. with your experience in project safe neighborhood, do you believe that enhanced role for the federal law enforcement authorities to go over violent and repeat gun offenders is warranted? >> i do think it's an important part of that effort. i prosecuted quite a number of gun trafficking cases and of course, as you mention, project safe neighborhood, the model of having coordination between federal, state, and local and figure 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 might be more limited within. the atf would play a bigger role in a lot of gun issues, but the
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fbi does have an important role to play in a very significant seat at the table. >> that's a conversation i would like to continue once or confirmed. >> i look forward to it. >> welcome mr. wray, i'm delighted you're here and i wish you well. i would like to ask is a question for the record that you provide the committee with a complete description of what you know about how it is that you came to be selected. if you could lay that out, we had a similar question and answer from judge gore search and i think in this case, it would be helpful. let me ask you a specific question, which is to 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?
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>> no, senator, no one has asked me for any loyalty oath and i wouldn't offer one. as i said, my loyalty is to the constitution, the rule of law, and the mission of the fbi. >> you kind of answer the question, which of the fbi director even allow the really -- unilaterally take control of the united states and i read your answer to be never. let's say you are presented with a situation in which you don't have confidence in the attorney general in a particular manner because of a conflict of interest, because of perception issues, for 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 control and make your own announcements as if you were the attorney general, what would plan b be? who do you go to? do you go to the attorney general anyway even though you lost confidence? do you say i have a problem and try to work something out, what are be the proper way to face
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that problem and the department of justice? >> as you know from your own time as attorney, i think the deputy attorney general is the proper place to go in that scenario. >> good answer, i agree with you. i gather your answer to wench of the fbi disclosed derogatory and investigative information about an uncharged subject is also never, but he 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 tht if the department has negative information to share about somebody, that the proper way for it to manifest that is to charge it. because then the person who is accused has an opportunity to defend themselves against those charges and would be resolved by a jury or a judge of it's a
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bench trial. there's a place for the accused to vindicate or fail to vindicate the charges against him. in an uncharged conduct, as the old saying, where do i go to get my reputation back? >> it is a corollary of the rule that the fbi does not disclose derogatory information, investigate of 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 and information and in the charging documents or subsequent court filings, correct? >> right. within the four corners of the charging document in public record. >> even if you have a charged subject, is still not open season. >> if we have derogatory information to share, it should be manifested in a charging document of some sort. >> thank you.
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i may be going over, but i really want to make sure i get this right. there was the 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, a pretty big thing to overlook in a legal memo in my opinion. it overlooked the court-martial of u.s. soldiers in the philippines 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
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prosecuted japanese soldiers for the war crime of waterboarding u.s. prisoners. to mean, that memo was a horrifying low point in the legal scholarship of the department of justice. your name came up in testimony in congress with respect to a 2003 memo, could you just let me know what role you had in signing off on any of the olc torture memos and what you knew about them? i know a lot of people were cut out. that's the problem with the process. what was your role with respect to the memos on waterboarding? >> 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 you on
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this topic. later, and 2004, when i was assistant attorney general, the criminal division did have a fairly surgical role, which was not underlying the word, not, and approving any particular interrogation technique, but merely commenting on a public, general interpretation memo by dan live-in about what the statute stated tory means. as you know, i was rescinding prior interpretations. again, i had not seen it. 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 during investigations to be investigating and prosecuting cases where people go too far and interrogation,
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not to be providing legal advic advice. >> a texas sheriff was convicted of federal crimes were doing exactly that. i will follow-up for the record with what your assessment is, but there is no point, i got 2 minutes left and i like to get to a couple of other things. there is a famous confrontation between the department of justice and the bush white house over the tapping program back in 2004. acting attorney general comey and director mueller both had prominent roles and you are in the department of the time. there was a group of people who indicated that if it was necessary to do resignations, that they would be part of the group that would resign if the department's views were not met by the white house. were you when i grew up and do have any recollections of exactly what took place in the
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episode in which you made 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 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. he asked lane to be some of the people who were brought into the program who all for the same way he did and their willingness to resign and knowing those people, having worked side-by-side with those people and knowing that these were hardly shrinking 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 would resign. i want you to let me know if you guys get to the point where you think you have to resign because all resign with you.
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>> last question. congress has oversight responsibility over the fbi, congress also has an obligation to out of fbi criminal investigations were very good reason. yet, and our oversight responsibility, it's important to make sure that cases aren't being tanked for whatever reason, so i'm interested in what you think the appropriate questions are for members of congress to ask about investigations, for instance, is it appropriate to ask if agents were ever assigned to a matter, and if so, how many without getting into the details? is it appropriate to ask of any investigate of work was done, if there were any subpoenas, documents obtained from interviews done, is it appropriate to consider whether departments process for following a particular manner, like a matter involving a public official for instance has a special base touching that needs
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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 evidence to assure themselves that a good job has in fact been done, that an adequate job has been done, as in the case of the learner investigation were quite a lot was disclosed about what had in fact been done? >> i do think the committee has an important oversight role that needs to be respected. obviously, investigations need to be assured that they are not jeopardized, information is uncompromised. in my experience, there usually ways to work around some of those issues. the particular examples you gave, i would have to think through each one. >> my time has expired, i appreciate your time here. i wish you well. >> thank you to your family and
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mr. wray and for your willingness to serve again. there's a crisis of public trust in this country, obviously. this institution has a 12% approval rating over the last four decades, we've gone from a net average of about 50% public support to about 30%. if you are 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 10-year term? >> i think the fbi director has a 10-year term because there's 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, 10-year terms 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 that the fbi has
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both criminal law enforcement and intelligence role that sort of transcends the political policy decisions and needs to kept apart from that and to endure through changes in the administration. >> what kinds of conditions would make sense when fbi director to be fired under? >> it up and fbi director engaged in misconduct, certainly that would be a situation. if an fbi director -- nobody is above the role of the law and if an fbi director who doesn't comply with the law should be treated just like anybody else. >> when you unpack to this concept of independence, it's quickly important that the bureau and law enforcement functions and its investigative functions not be politicized and yet, we have three branches of government, so ultimately, the legislative and the executive branches of the two who are most relevant and are accountable to the people, so there is a boss
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of the fbi director, but it's not supposed to be direct, political accountability. how do you conceive if you are confirmed who your bosses when you're the fbi director? >> it's the right question, of course. it is true that the president as head of the executive branch in 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, we talk about independence of the fbi, what we are 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 it. that would be my commitment if i was fbi director and that's a different kind of independence. >> could you state again, you've said it here, it's obvious from
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your time in the justice department and the mid-2000s and you said here today that you can imagine circumstances where you would resign. i think it's critically important when this hearing started and you stood there and you put up your right hand and all the camera clicks went on, people know that all of this matter. when you're taking an oath, you're saying ultimately that is the constitution that you serve in that the legislation passes laws, but the bureaus role and 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 would 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, i would say that former attorney general griffin bell's name has come up several times already today. one of the first things he taught all of us about public
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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 are asked to do something or confronted with something that is either illegal, unconstitutional, or even morally repugnant. and you have to be able to stand firm to her principles. i've heard many people describe me as understated and low-key, my kids would describe me more is just boring. >> if there's some head nodding. >> i don't want to look back, but no one should mistake my low-key demeanor as a lack of resolve, as some kind of willingness to compromise on principle because anybody who does wood making a very grave mistake. my commitment is to the rule of law to the constitution to follow the facts wherever they
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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 unpacked a little bit the distinction between investigation and prosecutorial decision-making, but i want to tease out a little bit of that. can you help the american people understand where the bureau's investigation response delays in the criminal division or of the deputy attorney general's office or main justice as responsibilities kick in and decision making? how does that work on cases that are below the purview of the director on a day-by-day basis in cases where the director is directly involved? what's the line between investigation and prosecution? >> i think the agents, whether you do it at an agent level like when i was a line prosecutor or a mid-level supervisor level or an upper management level, the basic construct is the same.
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the fbi is doing the investigating, the fact-finding, the accumulation of whether or not there is sufficient evidence of a crime to recommend bringing a prosecution against somebody, but the decision, the exercise of prosecutorial discretion is made by the prosecutor's. who are trained as lawyers, who are mindful of the department's policies and procedures about charging decisions. in my experience, is less of a line and in the best, practical examples, there is a partnership between the agents in the prosecutors working together, both of the investigation stage where even the fbi has the lead, prosecutors can often be very effective in participating in the investigation and the best agents that i ever worked with a didn't just handed off to the prosecutor at trial and say goodbye. even though there was a handoff and an assumption of greater
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responsibility by the prosecutor at trial, the best agents i've worked with set side-by-side with me at the counsel table when we tried the cases. there is a shift of responsibility in the system, but again, as a team effort and i think that's the way it should be approached. >> obviously, they are not limitless resources. at some level, you, as the director are going to regulate how to make prioritization decisions about counterterrorism investigations versus cyber investigations versus violent crime investigations, public corruption, et cetera. lots and lots of really important missions of the bureau has. when you're making those decisions come out when would it be appropriate and when would it be inappropriate for main justice and beyond, and particularly the white house to be providing direction about fbi priorities and mind share and budget investments? >> i don't think the white house should be playing a role in
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prosecutorial decisions. mac from a problematic perspective which gets reflected in things like the budget that submitted to congress, more effort can be focused on particular types of cases, there could be a period will refocus on voter fraud. there could be a period will refocus on gun crime, there could be a period where we on counterterrorism. there is an effect on the scarcity of resources and the ability to prioritize certain investigations and i think that's a process that occurs with input from law enforcement and the fbi met with input from the department, and at the end of the day, there was a president's budget tickets submitted to congress for that. >> i want to make sure i'm not putting words on your mouth. on an annual basis, there are decisions made of brown budget about those programs, but it's
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never appropriate for the white house to be providing or political officials to be providing specific direction about specific cases that you're investigating. >> that's my view. >> we are nearly at time and i'm going to stay for a couple more hours whatever x runs we have and i want to drill into cyber more deeply there, but first, one specific connection to your last line of questioning. do you believe that the russians were involved in trying to influence the 26 election? >> as i said before, all i've seen is the public intelligence community assessment, but i have no reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment. i haven't seen all the rest, but from what i've seen, i've no reason to doubt it. >> for those of us who read intelligence on a daily or near daily basis, this is indisputable. it's also undefeatable that 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
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creating new problems, but by trying to exploit and exacerbate an existing problem. american public distrust is one of the most valuable targets the russians have to try and divide us against ourselves and your being considered to lead an agency that's going to have to play a front-line role in restoring the public trust. you've got a big and high calling and many of us are grateful at your willingness to serve. i'll reserve my questions for the next round. >> before they get involved in our 2018 and a pot 20 elections, though good involved germany. i would like to put in the record, letter of support for 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 "has
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the judgment, the integrity, independence, experience, 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 deputy attorney general, bush administration, he wrote that mr. wray's "dedication to public service and our great country is deep, admirable, and unparalleled and he praised mr. wray as a strong independent professional. these records will be included without objection. >> it is good to see your wife with you and your kids as well. our daughters are friends and i learned it from nonfbi sources that your daughter flew in on a
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redeye tonight and arrived at 4:30 a.m. and the fact that she kept her eyes open through this entire hearing is a testament to her devotion to her dad. on a more serious matter, i know you to be a decent person and a good and devoted dad, so i think that's a pretty good start here. i think you for your answers, particularly, the recent discussion by you've had with senator 's about evidence that you been able to see the russian influence in our election and the answers you've given other senators. i thought you were opening statement reflected that you understand the gravity of this role and people who put themselves on the front line every day without fear or favor. we owe it to them, but we also owe it to this country to bring back the trust that the
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senator has talked about. my first question is, when you ran the criminal division in the justice department, did you ever receive a request from the president or other high-ranking officials to just let a case go? >> nell. >> i think you answered one of my colleagues, if the president asks you to do that, you said you would try to talk them out of it and if the president would not resend the request, you would resign. is that right? >> i would make all appropriate action which would include potentially having to resign, yes. >> from time to time, i would sometimes get comments from people, don't do anything about that case, 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 to the prosecutor working on the case
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unless i thought for some reason the need to know that. if i did, i would tell them not at all influence what you're doing. i think you know this happens, not just to the fbi director, but it happens to people underneath you. that's why i appreciated your answer about the process. after processes in place because is not just the fbi director that gets those calls. you want to respond to that? >> yes, thank you. i think he said it very well. to become a process is so important and the reason process is so important because people need to have constants 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 complete the consistent with the law. likewise, if there is a decision to close the investigation, people need to have confidence that that if there was something they are, the process would have found it. process is terribly important and i think the tone needs to be set at the top and i will say
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that the thing that is distinctive about it all is that they will follow the facts and the law wherever it takes them. sometimes people don't like it, but that's what makes it such a beautiful thing to behold if you are prosecutor. >> how about your view of working with local law enforcement? we have very good group in minnesota, our fbi there they stepped in, the special agent in charge, rick thornton has -- they worked very well with our local law enforcement and are achieved. you want to briefly comment on your views on working with local law enforcement? >> i think working with estate, local law enforcement is hugely important, especially because there's so much on the fbi's plate right now. there needs to be partnership between the fbi and other federal law enforcement agencies and state locals and a multiplier way. there's all kinds of support
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that the fbi can provide to law enforcement whether it's pardoning on investigations, training the national academy is a great thing that when i talk to people at state and local law enforcement, they consistently praise. i'm gratified by the support that has come in, i think that's a terribly important relationship. the threats we face are way too many for one agency, much less the fbi to do all by itself. >> i think director comey thought that way as well and i had respect for his work with local law enforcement. and i appreciated your words about him. from time to time, there've been proposals to split up the fbi's criminal and national security missions and remove matters like counterterrorism, counterespionage from the fbi's jurisdiction to spin them off. some have even advocated the american version of the way the brits handle this.
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when this was discussed in the early 2000s and bob mueller rejected it, you said it would be a step backward. do you agree with his assessment about this type of proposal? >> i remember being fairly actively involved in that issue back in the early 2000s, working with people at the fbi. i thought it was a terrible idea then and it's hard for me to imagine circumstances have changed that would make me think it's a good idea now. i think the one thing we learned from 9/11 is about 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 not the right way to go about it. my limited understanding in 2017 is that since i left law enforcement, other foreign agencies have started moving more in the direction then we have. i have great respect for our
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colleagues in the u.k. and their system, but i don't think that's the right model for us. >> election infrastructure, when you look at what happened in this last election, one may happen going forward, one of the jobs of the fbi is to coordinate with the assistance commission and follow-up on cyber attacks. >> senator, i think the integrity of our elections has to be a very, very top priority. it's at the core of who we are as a country. any threat, whether it's from a nation's estate or a nonstate actor needs to be taken very, very seriously and the fbi has a huge role in that. >> in a broader fashion, russia has backed critical networks. we heard about this in the ukraine


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