tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC July 12, 2017 7:00am-8:00am PDT
i also had the privilege of serving you for at least more than a decade and a half and maybe two decades and i know well how you were determined, senator, to get things done and represent your people well. so, welcome to the committee and you may proceed. >> thank you very much, chairman grassley and senator feinstein and senator hatch and senator leahy and all the members of the judiciary committee. it's a great honor to appear before this committee today for the purpose of introducing christopher wray, the president's nominee to be the director of. strongly recommending him to be confirmed of attorney general. it is a challenging time for the department of justice as well as the fbi. i described judge bell then as a man noted for his quick mind,
his candor, his integrity and his independence. years later in may of 2003, judge bell contacted me, i was out of the senate at that stage. praising chris wray as a rising star and he suggested i recommend him to my former senate colleagues as a terrific choice to be confirmed tahead t the criminal division of the department of justice. since that time i followed chris' career in and out of government and i satisfied myself fully that my support for chris in 2003 was well placed. i can assure this committee that chris embodies the same traits that enabled griffin bell to rebuild public confidence in the department of justice, quickness of mind, candor, integrity and independence. a couple of questions. what is the basis of my confidence in chris? senator feinstein, i hope to address some of your questions
in answering that question i pose. from his service as assistant united states attorney in atlanta 1997 where chris worked with the fbi in the trenches of federal criminal investigations and prosecutoionprosecutions. to 2001 when he served as then deputy attorney general larry thompson's principal deputy. helping guide the department of justice including the fbi. after the september 11, 2001, terrorist attacks chrissed wo w tirelessly and newly appointed fbi director mueller, as well as other senior fbi officials to respond to the attacks and to help restructure the department to enable it to more effectively prevent future acts of terrorism. chris also helped oversee other department of justice priorities including the project safe neighborhoods initiative and he was instrumental in forming the
cooperate fraud task force. in 2003 at age 36, as i mentioned, chris was nominated by president bush to lead the justice department's criminal division. the senate unanimously confirmed chris for this position. the senate's confidence in him was justified by capably overseeing what are now two critically important divisions at the department. the criminal division and the national security division. in recent years, i have observed chris wray close up in his leadership role where he heads the special matters team, incidentally also started by judge bell. in private practice, chris came to be regarded very quickly as one of the most skillful investigative lawyers in the country. mr. chairman and senator feinstein and members of the committee, chris wray possesses an unwavering commitment to the
rule of law. he has a proven track record of following the facts and the law independent of favor or influence. chris commands the respect and admiration of lawyers and judges and all who have observed his conduct and his record. chris understands that the fbi and the department of justice owe loyalty to the constitution, our laws and our nation and not to any particular office holder. he has demonstrated his commitment that these fundamental principles be upheld. no one is better able to attest to that than larry thompson who worked directly with chris at the department. i would like to read one paragraph from a recent letter endorsing chris' nomination that larry thompson sent to senator grassley and ranking member feinstein. i quote larry thompson, i had
the chance during my career to work with men and women who have served at the department of justice and democratic and republican administrations alike. i have witnessed them handling the most sensitive investigations and matters imaginable. i can tell first hand that i have not worked with or seen an individual with a keener sense of the department's mission and the need for the department's business to be conducted free from favor, influence oor partisanship, end quote. my second question. why is chris wray's timely confirmation so important to the fbi and to our nation? if confirmed, i have complete confidence that chris will follow the facts and the law with fairness, with thoroughness and intelligence and objecti objectivity. wherever that path may lead. every member of this committee knows how important the job of
fbi director is to our nation. particularly during challenging times. history tells us among its many other important tasks, we rely on the department of justice and the fbi to serve as a powerful check on the executive branch. including the president. and even on occasion, a check on itself. this has been made clear in the 1972 watergate investigation, the 1986 iran contra investigation. the 1990s whitewater investigation and the early 2000 nsa domestic surveillance episode. chairman grassley, as you pointed out and all of these challenges sustained thorough congressional oversight is absolutely essential for our nation. what we ask of the men and women of the fbi is enormous. keeping our nation safe, upholding our laws, investigating law breakers and, yes, acting as a check on the
most powerful and the most connected. the fbi deserves a permanent director so they can accomplish these tasks with our nation's full confidence. there is too much at stake to allow this nomination to stand idle. chris wray is the leader of integrity that the bureau needs at this critical moment and i thank you mr. chairman and senator feinstein for moving forward expeditiously on this nomination. i am confident that the meeting day to day pressures as well as in periods of enormous consequence, chris wray will devote every ounce of his intellect and his skills and his sound judgment to protecting the american people and upholding our constitutional principals. i strongly urge the committee and the senate to confirm chris wray as director of the federal
bureau of investigation. and i thank you for letting me appear today with these words. thank you very much. >> and we thank you for your appearance and what you have said about our nominee. and particularly to get it done quickly. we thank you very much. yes, you may. >> mr. chairman, i remember very well senator nunn's testimony in favor of griffin bell. i've served here with 379 individual u.s. senators. sam nunn is one of the absolute best i've ever served with. we've been dear friends, we sat near each other on the senate floor. i learned a lot from him. every experience with him is great except the one time we were in a darkened room and the s.w.a.t team came in and firing live ammunition around us, but that is a different story. but it's an honor to have you here, sam. i'm delighted to see you.
please give my best to coleen. >> thank you, senator leahy, very much. >> before you're seated, i think save you two or three seconds. i'd like to give the oath now. do you affirm that the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you very much. i think that i more or less introduced you in my opening comments. so, i think now whatever time you take for the usual thing is for a statement, but, also, quite usual in this committee that any introductions you want to make, you can appropriately make those. that is your decision. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
proceed. >> mr. chairman, senator feinstein, members of the committee, thank you for the privilege of appearing before you today. also want to thank senator nunn for that really very kind introduction. there's no way i could contemplate undertaking without the love and support of my family. with me here today is my wife, helen, both of our kids, caroline and tripp. my parents, jill and cecil wray. my niece, maggie. my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and two of their children. amelia and clark. a commitment like this affects the whole family. and i have no words to adequately express my gratitude to all of them. i'm honored by the president to be nominated to leave the fbi and i'm humbled by the prospect
of working alongside the outstanding men and women of the bureau. time and time again often when the stakes are highest, they have proven their unshakable commitment to protecting americans, upholding our constitution and our laws and demonstrating the virtus of the fbi motto, fidelity, bravery and integrity. former attorney general and judge griffin bell who you heard senator nunn invoke several times and who i had the great pleasure to work with quite a bit early in my career often used to say that it's amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. and i think, in my experience, the men and women of the fbi demonstrate the limitless potential of that saying day after day in the way they tackle the mission. while the fbi has justly earned
its reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, it's special agents, analysts and support staff more often than not operate largely out of public view. they toil at great risk to themselves and at great sacrifice by their families. but they happily defer individual recognition because they believe that the principals that they serve are much larger than themselves. i feel very fortunate to be able to witness that kind of selfless and inspiring commitment first hand throughout my career in public service. as the line prosecutor i learned a great deal from working with brave fbi agents on everything from bank robberies to public corruption, from kidnapping to financial fraud. those agents are my friends to
this day. and they taught me a lot about what it means to play it straight and to follow the facts wherever they may lead. i continued my career in public service in the summer of 2001 by moving to washington to work at the justice department with my friend and mentor then deputy attorney general larry thompson who you also heard senator nunn reference. after 9/11 i winctnessed, again the fbi's extraordinary capabilities as the people there worked around the clock and moved heaven and earth to try to ensure that horrific attacks like those that occurred on september 11th, never happen again. i know from up close and i sleep better because i know that the horror of 9/11 has never faded from the fbi's collective memory. the bureau has never grown complacent and continues to work tirelessly every day to protect
all americans. as head of the justice department's criminal division, i again saw countless examples of the fbi's unflagging pursuit of justice, free and independent of any favor or influence. from counterterrorism to counterespionage to the escalating threat of cybercrime. from human trafficking to public corruption and financial fraud. i worked with and learned from the men and women of the fbi who put it all on the line to make our streets safer and our lives better. if i am given the honor of leading this agency, i will never allow the fbi's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice. period. full stop. my loyalty is to the
constitution and to the rule of law. those have been my guide posts throughout my career and i will continue to adhere to them no matter the test. there is no doubt as this committee knows that our country faces grave threats. as lots of other people have noticed, america's law enforcement and intelligence agencies have essentially to pitch a perfect game every day while those who would inflict harm on us just have to hit once to advance their ames. i consider the fbi director's most important duty to ensure that nothing distracts the selfless patriots at the fbi of the mission. in conclusion, i pledge to be the leader that the fbi deserves and to lead an independent bureau that will make every american proud. thank you, mr. chairman, senator feinstein. i look forward to answering the
committee's questions. >> before my first ten minute starts we'll have ten-minute rounds just in case somebody came late and didn't hear what i had said about that. two votes scheduled at 12:30. i asked if she thought we could get done by 12:30 and she said, we hope so, but, obviously, we'll let people go as long on their questions as they want to. but i would ask people to think in terms of people chairing the committee so we don't lose a whole 45 minutes while we're having votes. so, think that in mind. my first series of questions are going to seem maybe very softball and they probably are softball. but i think they're very important to every member of this committee, particularly
when they have an administration that says that democrats can't get answers to their questions when they do their oversight work or even 30 republicans that aren't chairman of the committees that can't get answers to their questions and things like the role of whistleblowers. that may not sound like the stuff that is basic to your job, but is basic to the constitutional principle we have and the constitutional role of congress. so, the first one we've heard a lot about the need for an fbi to show independence. you just heard what senator feinstein said about that. and, also, for the fbi to make decisions free of political pressure or influence. so, i'll just ask a very broad question and let you share your thoughts on this subject. what is your view on the independence of the fbi generally, but, more importantly, as you as director head up that organization?
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i believe to my core that there's only one right way to do this job. and that is with strict independence by the book, playing it straight. faithful to the constitution, faithful to our laws and faithful to the best practices of the institution. without fear, without favoritism and certainly without regard to any partisan political influence. that's the commitment that i brought to my years to duty as a line prosecutor. that's the commitment that brought to my time as the head of the criminal division. that's the commitment that i think the american people rightly expect of the fbi director. and that's the commitment i would make to this committee and to the country if confirmed. and i have way, way, way too much respect and affection, frankly, for the men and women
of the fbi to do anything less than that. and i would just say anybody who thinks that i would be pulling punches as the fbi director sure doesn't know me very well. >> thank you. in my opening statement, i emphasized the importance of oversight and helping to make government a more transparent and more accountable as a result and hopefully more effective. so, do you have -- do i have your assurance that if you're confirmed, you will assist me and members of this committee because of our jurisdiction, but maybe i ought to speak for, i hope 100 members of congress share this view assist us with our oversight activities, be responsive to our requests and help make the fbi more accountable for to the american people? >> mr. chairman, i understand completely what you're getting at. i think the role of this
committee is special with respect to the fbi and i would do everything i could to ensure that we're being appropriately responsive and prompt in dealing with all the members of the senate. but, obviously, especially this committee. >> and then kind of along the same line, but not just your involvement personally, but would you pledge to provide information to congress in a timely manner and to foster open and frequent communications between the fbi and this committee regarding our oversight requests? >> mr. chairman, i would do everything in my power to try to ensure that the fbi is being, not just as responsive as possible, but as prompt as possible in responding to appropriate oversight requests, absolutely. >> so, on our goal the whistleblowers and i don't know whether i use this exact language in my office in private conversation with you and it doesn't matter whether i did or not, but i have a feeling that
not just the fbi, but most agencies teach or treat whistleblowers like they're a skunk at a picnic. but i think it's a little different in the fbi from the standpoint that there isn't the exact protection for whistleblowers that the fbi. it's different than most agencies accept national security. when we met, i gave you a list of fbi whistleblower cases. that list shows that it has taken two to ten years to get cases resolved by the department of justice internal process. now, you may not have any control over that internal process, but the extent to which you do, i guess that's how i'm asking this question. fbi whistleblowers also have no access to independent review and the fbi rarely disciplines anyone for retaliating against whistleblower. tone is set at the top. that's why it is so important how you feel about this. how will you protect
whistleblowers in the fbi and hold retaliators accountable, not just with your words, but with your actions. i'm sorry to say that your predecessors did a poor job in this respect even though they may have been very effective in running a law enforcement agency and seeing that everybody got the criminals they should get. >> well, mr. chairman, your reputation for looking out for whistleblowers, i think, is maybe unparalleled and certainly i know this topic is very important to you. i would say first off, retaliation against whistleblowers is just wrong, period. i'm, obviously, not familiar with, yet, the bureau's internal process processes, but there needs to be a process that allows for appropriate concerns to be raised. and whistleblowers, my experience, having seen them in a lot of different kinds of organizations can play a very important role in ensuring
accountability. not just from congressional committees and courts but a forcform of accountability that comes from within and oftentimes whispblowers can be a very important part of that. >> i appreciate your words. i think if i remember right whist whistleblowers should not be retaliated against. i want to assure you that two of your predecessors have told me exactly the same thing. so, i think it's how you, how you interpret your own words that whistleblowers shouldn't be retaliated against. but you can understand why i have, i don't expect that you're misleading me in any way. but your good intentions may not be carried out. i think it's important that you know that. i am not going to ask you the last question, but i want you to be aware of the fact that fbi whistleblowers are the only federal law enforcement officers who have no access to an independent judicial review and
members of this committee along with me, with this senator, are pursuing legislation along that line. and i would hope that we could get some, as you think about it, get some support from you so that your law enforcement people aren't treated differently than other in the federal government. now, i want to go to national security. i got three minutes left. there's no doubt that you are extremely qualified individual with a diverse array of work experience. particularly in investigating fraud. but the top priorities of the fbi are focused on national security with the ultimate goal to protect and defend the united states against terrorism and foreign intelligence threats. any fbi director needs to capably and effectively lead the fbi national security mission. so to that effect, please explain to us how you have the relevant background skills, knowledge and experience necessary to lead the fbi in combatting national security
threats, particularly in the area of counterintelligence and counterterrorism. >> mr. chairman, most of my four years in the leadership of the department, both as principal associate and deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division were focused on those issues. counterterrorism and to some extent also counterespionage. importantly during that period of time before 2005 or 2006 even, both the counterterrorism section and the counterespionage section were part of the criminal division. and, so, my oversight responsibilities in the criminal division itself and then to some extent principal associate attorney general focused on the criminal division and those sections were, of course, high priori priority. well over 50% of my time in
those four years was focused on these very kinds of issues. >> okay, thank you. now, i want to go this will probably be my last question for my ten minutes. now, this is in regard to the electronic communications transactions records. spoke repeatedly about the need for law enforcement to have the tools it needs to research threats to national security and to have cooperation from electronic communication service providers when doing so in that regard, please explain to us whether as fbi director you will advocate for any legislative fixes congress can put in place to help the fbi get electronic communication transactions records, especially for national security investigations. >> well, mr. chairman, there's obviously a tricky balance to be
struck in that territory. but it's my experience that access to electronic information is paramount, lawfully pursued. i haven't studied the different legislative ideas that are out there, but i do know that we are going to have to, as a society, both the fbi and the justice department, this committee and others, industry, foreign partners. we're going to have to find solutions to these partners. the role of technology is overtaking us all. so, i'm committed to try to work with everyone to try to find a solution. >> okay, thank you. senator feinstein. >> thanks very much. just a couple of quick questions before i get to the substance of my questions. did you discuss mr. comey or his firing with anyone in the white house, the justice department or the fbi? if so, who, when and what was discussed? >> senator feinstein, i did not discuss those topics at all with anyone in the white house.
my only discussion on topic at all was deputy attorney general rosenstein making the observation tame at the first time i was contacted about this position was now that special counsel mueller had been appointed to deal with that issue and it made for a better landscape for me to consider taking on this position. >> that was it? >> that was it. >> okay. let me go now to the things that we discussed in my office. my understanding is you served as the deputy attorney general's most senior adviser when the office of legal counsel issued the so-called torture memos in 2002 and 2003. one of the authors of those memos testified in 2008 before a house judiciary committee that
you were one of the justice department officials who would have received drafts of the memos and those memos would not have been issued without the approval of the deputy attorney general's office. in fact, you said he believed you provided comments on the 2003 olc memo which included the interrogation tactics don't qualify as torture, unless they're intended to cause the kind of severe pain associated with organ failure or death. what was your role? in approving or reviewing that memo or any of the other memos issued by the office of legal counsel regarding the treatment? you should know that there were those of us at that time that were trying to get hold of these memos to look at them. we couldn't even go. we couldn't as a member of the judiciary committee or member of the intelligence committee, we couldn't even see the memos.
so, this looms big in my mind. so, i would appropriate it if you could answer the question. >> thank you, senator feinstein. i recognize and respect how important an issue this is. first, let me say that my view is that torture is wrong. it's unacceptable. it's illegal and i think it's ineffective. second, let me say that i -- >> good beginning. >> exactly. second, both of my predecessors, director comey and director mueller had a policy which i think is the right policy and i would expect to continue that the fbi is going to play no part in the use of techniques of that sort. third, i would say that when i was assistant attorney general for the criminal division one of the things that i think we did that i was most proud of is that we investigated and in one particular case i can remember successfully prosecuted a cia contractor who had gone
overboard and abused a detainee that he was interrogating. this was not in iraq, but an afghan detainee. and that was a case that i'm very proud of. >> that was the case of the -- it was a homicide. >> yes, it was a homicide. his abuse of that detainee led to -- >> that was the case. >> i'm sorry. >> the case was rahman -- >> i don't remember the exact location. i think it was in the salt pit . the interrogator's last name was pasaro and we prosecuted him in, i think, the middle district of north carolina is my recollection. and he was convicted and he was sentenced. and i think that was not only an important case in its own right, but i think sent an important message of the criminal message intolerance for that misconduct. now, to the rest of your question, we talked about this in our meeting. i can tell you that during my
time as principal associate deputy attorney general, to my recollection, i never reviewed, much less provided comments on or input on and much less approved any memo from john yoo on this topic. i understand that he thinks it is possible he might have. i can only tell this committee that i have no recollection of that whatsoever and it's the kind of thing that i think i would remember. >> i would think so. >> might not be surprising because my portfolio was focused on the criminal division on the fbi, on the u.s. attorney's offices. it was not -- the office of legal counsel was not part of my portfolio. it's not to say that i never had any interaction with the office of legal action but it was not sort of squarely within my wheel house, which was already pretty full, to be honest. so, later, as i said, as assistant attorney general we
did provide input on the general meaning of the statute, but not as to any particular technique. the reason for that is i wanted to preserve for the criminal division the proper role of prosecutors which is not to provide legal advice or forward looking, but rather to be able to investigate and prosecute cases involving cases against people who go beyond the bounds of the law. >> could you speak to your connections to the case at abu ghraib prison? i understand you received a memo from the cia ig which states that ig was investigating the abuse of detainees at abu ghraib and that memo discussed the suspected homicide of detainee al jamadi and concluded quote, i am this matter to you, end
quote. when you were first informed of detainee abuse at this prison or else where? who informed you and what actions did you take? >> well, senator, i don't have a clear recollection in my head about exactly when i first learned about the abuse at abu ghraib, in particular. i know we were getting referrals from the cia ig on various detainee matters and investigating those. and i believe at some point some of those referrals began to include not just places like in afghanistan, but also in iraq. and we opened any number of investigations in response to those referrals. a lot of those investigations took a while and i think a lot may have come to fruition after i left the department in the very beginning of may, 2005. >> so, you have no specific recollection? let me -- i have a little bit
more time. let me ask you about civil injunction authority related to terrorism. as you know, there's a relentless and growing isil recruitment effort through social media platforms. and recruitment is repeatedly identified in nearly all of the 100 plus criminal indictments brought by federal authorities during the past two years relating to isil. the civil injunction authority, as i understand it, exists for the attorney general to obtain orders against those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, as well as to shut down websites from distributing software for spying on people. how do you feel about use of this civil injunction? and what commitment do expolore
it and possibly use it would you be prepared to make? >> senator, i'm not overly familiar with this particular tool in the arsenal that the fbi has. but i would be very interested in learning more about it and how it could be used more effectively. i would say from my experience in combatting terrorism back in the early 2000s, that material support, legal remedies, are particularly important. one of the things that we used to say to people that i feel very strongly about is if america is counting on people to catch the terrorists with their finger on the switch of a bomb, that's way overly optimistic about the ublability. so, you need to look at a terrorist plot by looking at the whole continuum of it where it begins. and somewhere on that continuum we would far rather catch a terrorist with his hands on a check rather than his hands on a bomb. any support remedy that is
available is particularly important to try to prevent attacks, as trying to pafter attacks occurred. >> one last question. would you commit to informing this committee if you witness or learn of any efforts to interfere with the work of special counsel mueller? >> assuming that i can do it legally and appropriately, absolutely. i'm very committed to supporting director mueller in the special counsel investigation in whatever way is appropriate for me to do that. i worked closely with director mueller in my past government service. i view him as the straight shooter and someone i have respect for and i would be pleased to do what i can to support him in his mission. >> what i'm asking if you learned about any machinations to tamper with that that you let this committee know. >> understood. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> if you want to say more, i'm
happy to hear it. >> i would consult with the appropriate official. any time talking to this committee. i would consult with the appropriate officials to make sure i'm not jeopardizing an investigation or anything like that. i would consider an -- and would need to be dealt with very sternly and appropriately indeed. >> thank you. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator hatch. >> well, welcome to the committee. i couldn't be more pleased than to have you in this position. and i'm very grateful that you would be willing to take it because you had a very nice life outside of government and, frankly, this is, this is going to be an interesting life and i'm not sure it's going to be a nice life. and i have a lot of empathy for you and your family. but let me begin with the issue of encryption. i have been a proponent of strong encryption technology. such technology is essential to
protecting consumers' privacy and keeping america's tech sector at the forefront of global innovation. as the chairman of the high-tech task force, i had conversations with a number of tech leaders, apple's tim cook, just one to mention the importance of encryption. proposals to mandate so-called back doors into encrypted devices are not the answer in my opinion. too much respect for former director comey, but in candor, this is an issue that i don't think he got quite right. what we need, in my view, is a public/private partnership in which congress, law enforcement and industry stake holders work together to find the path forward. now, mr. wray, will you commit to work with congress and stakeholders on the issues so that we can find a solution that is workable for all sides? >> senator, i know that this is issue that has been very important to you for a long time
and we discussed it in our meeting. as we discussed then, i think this is one of the most difficult issues facing the country. there's a balance, obviously, that has to be struck between the importance of encryption, which i think we can all respect. so many threats to our systems. and the importance of giving law enforcement the tools that they lawfully need to keep us all safe. and, so, i don't know sitting here today as an outsider and nominee before this committee what the solution is, but i do know that we have to find a solution and my experience in trying to find solutions is that it's more productive for people to work together than to be pointing fingers blaming each other. and that's the approach i tried to take to almost every problem i tackled and that's the approach i would want to take here in working with this committee. with the private sector. one advantage to having been in the private sector for a little while is i think i know how to talk to the private sector and i
would look for ways to try to get the private sector more onboard to understand why this issue is so important to keeping us all safe. >> that's all i can ask for. i would like to turn to the issue of child predators and what we can do to protect our loved ones from harm. i recently joined with senator franken to introduce the child protection improvement acts which would provide access to fbi and background checks to youth serving organizations to ensure that child predators are not able to obtain with such organizations. it will pass the house of representatives later this year and i want to thank the fbi for providing support and technical assistance on this very important bill. will you commit to continue working with congress to ensure that youth serving organizations have access to fbi background checks for their employees and volunteers? >> senator, i know this is an important issue, it's one that you raise and that senator franken also raised.
and i can commit that it's something i'm very interested in trying to figure out a way to support those efforts and work with both of you and others on. the child exploitation and obscenity section was in the criminal division when i oversaw it and brought some of the most important cases. so, i'm keenly aware on a personal level of the threat that predators face to the most vulnerable populations in this country. and i want to work with everybody to try to find better solutions. >> well, thank you. we'll work together. your agency is strongly supported by rapid dna legislation which passed the senate earlier this year in may. current law restricts access to the fbi's combined dna index system to dna records generated and accredited crime lab. recent developments and rapid dna technology, however, offers a great promise in speeding up the time table for dna analysis.
using rapid dna technology, law enforcement officer can know within two hours whether an individual is wanted for an outstanding crime or has the connection to evidence from a crime scene. now, my bill expands access to dna records generated through rapid dna instruments. it will help law enforcement more quickly solve crime than exonerate the inant inocent. i would like you to continue the fbi's long-standing work with congress to improve the way dna analysis is used in our criminal justice system. and to reduce inefficiencies and back logs of dna sample analysis. will you help us on that? >> i look very much forward with working with you and others on the committee with this important issues. i'm not up to the advances on dna technology, but even when i served in law enforcement
before, it was already clear what a valuable tool it is both to ensure that the right people are caught and prosecuted, but also to make sure that the wrong people are unfairly accused. and it strikes me as just good sense law enforcement to try to come up with a way to make that tool more readily available and more rapidly available. >> thank you. in 2015, the fbi investigated secretary clinton's server system and determined that 81 e-mail chains contained classified information ranging from confidential to top secret special access program levels at the time they were sent. someone who served 20 years in the senate intelligence committee, longer than any other member of the senate has ever served, i have deep respect for the intelligence commity and for the need to protect and properly handle classified information. i was very troubled by the fact that secretary clinton was so
careless about how she hand lle classified communications when she was secretary of state. what is your perspective on how the fbi should handle case s in the future with individuals who do not handle classified information? >> this is an issue very important to me. because the counterespionage section had jurisdiction over those kinds of investigations and they reported up to me, we investigated a number of cases involving unauthorized and inappropriate disclosure of classified information. one of the real eye opening things for me coming into the leadership of the department from having been a line prosecutor was just how much of our sources and methods come from our overseas partners. i just think that most americans, rightly, but have no idea how important that is. and if we can't protect classified information, it's not just that information that gets
jeopardized which could lead to risk of lives of intelligence personnel and all sorts of other compromising situations. but even more importantly, it causes our allies to lose confidence in us in our willingness to share information with us. and if that dries up, we're in a world of hurt. i think those things need to be treated very severely and treated very aggressively. >> thank you. i'm concerned about the violent crime trends that we're seeing throughout the united states. according to the fbi 2015 statistics, violent crimes increased in our country by nearly 4%. over the year before and murders increased by nearly 11%. can you explain to us what you can do as fbi director to work with state and local partners to curb this disturbing trend in violent crime? >> well, senator, as senator nunn mentioned in his introduction dealing with
violent crime and, in particular, gun violence is a subject i spent a lot of time on in my prior law enforcement service. i think the fbi has a lot on its plate, but it needs to look for the ways that it can contribute. obviously, aff and, as you mentioned, state and local partners are essentially to that effort. and i think the approach should be for the fbi to see what it can do where it uniquely provides value. to me that might be ethings like organized gang activity and places where the fbi has particular expertise that it can support and supplement and augment and complement the efforts of atf, state and local law enforcement. it needs to be a, you know, the old saying about the whole being greater than some of the parts approach. >> i think that's a good approach and i want to thank you for being willing to serve and to take on this awesome responsibility and i want to thank your family being willing
to sacrifice themselves. because we know many times you're going to be away from the family and working pretty dog gone hard. thank you for your willing to serve and i intend to fully support you and i hope everybody else in the committee and senate will do the same likewise. >> thank you, it means a lot. >> senator leahy. >> thank you. good to see you, again, mr. wray. thank you for coming by yesterday. and welcome back to the committee. senator nunn mentioned griffin bell and i enjoyed our talk about judge bell. now, i wish you were here under different circumstances because i am troubled by the abrupt
firing of predecessor director comey. the president the white house initially misled the public on why director comey was fired. and then the president made his motivation very clear in the interview with nbc news. he said he fired director comey because of the russian thing. of course, the russian thing was the fbi's investigation into potential collusion between the kremlin and the president's campaign and administration. now, there are multiple investigations about russia. and their interference as similar interference we see by other countries. just yesterday we learned that a number of members of the trump campaign were eager to work and talk with members of the russian organization, even though they
are an adversary of ours about the campaign. i talk about this not so much in history, although we need to know exactly what happened because we got to make sure it does not begin. care if they arg a republican or democrat, no country, especially an enemy like russia should be able to interfere with our country. now, the fbi has been one of the most powerful tools available to the president. and what we've seen from the white house, they may be expecting your loyalty. just as the president did with director comey. are you told me yesterday that there's been no question by anybody in the white house asking you for a pledge of loyalty, is that correct? >> that's correct, senator, my loyalty is to the constitution,
to the rule of law and to the mission of the fbi and no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during the process and i sure as heck didn't offer one. >> and also, from what you told me yesterday, you would not give one if asked? >> correct. >> and the reason i ask this, i remember when then senator jeff sessions asked great length his questioning sally yates at her nomination hearing and said if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful should the attorney general and deputy attorney general say no. you served with sally yates and you can imagine and probably not surprised her answer was she would say no. as you state your word, as soon as she said no, when she refused to defend president trump's
discriminatory muslim ban, she got fired. i'm going to ask you the same question that jeff session asked of sally yates and you know, she kept her word and of course got fired for it. but if the president asks you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say? >> first, i would try to talk him out of it. if that failed, i would resign. >> thank you. >> why did the president fire director comey? >> you know, senator, i don't know. i'm not familiar with all of the information that the president may or may not have had so i'm really not in a position to speak to that. i know there's a special counsel investigation under way with my former colleague director mueller leading that. i think that issue falls within his investigation. >> well, of course, former
director mueller is looking at whether crimes took place. what i worry about when the president has said and i quote him, face great pressure because of russia, close quote, and that pressure was "quote, taken off by firing director comey. does that explanation trouble you? >> senator, i really don't know all of the circumstances surrounding that state in the context. i can tell you that during my time at the department working with then deputy attorney general comey, 12 years ago, and before that, in all my dealings with jim comey, he was a terrific lawyer, a dedicated public servant and a wonderful colleague. i haven't been in touch with him in a number of years but -- >> will you work and actually pledge to keep the fbi from any
political interference or influence? >> absolutely, senator. >> i was a prosecutor at the time of j edgar hoover, never want us to see us go back to that era today. did things illegal and improper and done for his own political motivation. and i know senator gres grassley made a comment about that too. the intelligence community, and this has now been public, concluded with high confidence that russia intervened in the 2016 election in order to den great secretary clinton and help elect donald trump. do you have any indication that russia interfered in our elections -- >> sorry, go ahead. senator, the only thing i've been able to review on that at the moment is the public form of the intelligence community's
assessment, the summary. i don't have access to all of the classified information. but i will tell you from what i reviewed i have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community. >> you read the classified sections if you're confirmed? >> it would be one of the first things i want to see. >> thank you. because i -- you see the actions of russia in europe and number of other parts around the world trying to expand their influe e influence. you see them wanting to influence people's other elections, the last thing they want them to do is interfere with others. i don't want any other country too, but especially a country adversarial to the interest of the united states as russia. now during a federal society event on originalism and criminal procedures in 2005, you
discussed the extent which foreigners were protected by the fourth amendment while on american soil. you brought up the case ever u.s. versus verdugo cade yus, a citizen was transported to and incarcerated in the united states was not protected by the fourth amendment because it is not a member of the people. you then state you think that might be a good way of handling undocumented aliens. to what extent do you believe fourth amendment protections against unreasonable procedure apply to undocumented aliens in the united states? >> well, senator, i haven't studied the fourth amendment jurs pruns in a long time. >> you spoke about it. >> at the time my recollection was i was speaking -- the conference was about originalism and i think the main thrust of my remarks was about how those
who criticize originalism in the context of criminal constitutional juris prudens, if not originalism, then what. i was trying to make the point that there was -- there's some logic to looking at originalism in that context. but i haven't looked at those remarks or that issue in a long time. >> do you think as fbi director the undocumented aliens in the united states have any protection whatsoever or could an fbi agent just go and break in buildings any way they want and search for anything they want? >> well, no, senator, i think we need to be mindful of the civil liberties of all. >> thank you. >> do you agree water boarding is torture and is illegal? >> yes. >> thank you. incidentally -- that's the same answer director comey gave when i asked him the same question. i worked for years with chairman grassley to address concerns the
two of us have related -- there are things we do in a bipartisan basis on this committee and senator grassley and i have been concerned about the fbi's flawed hair and fiber analysis testimony. i asked director comey a question in may, he promised me a follow-up. what are we doing, going over the 3,000 cases that were closed because of faulty analysis by the fbi? if those cases come up, even if it's a missing transcript, will you commit to having an agent conduct an in person visit to determine whether documents are necessary to find out what happened? i say this because i remember as a prosecutor, using the fbi's hair and fiber analyses if we've had people convicted because
they were faulty, we should know that. >> well, senator, i share your concern about having forensic science done appropriately. cases stand or fall on that and we can't have innocent people convicted because of flawed science. i'm not familiar with the particular problems that occurred in this particular arena but it's something i want to get briefed on early on and see what other appropriate action might need to be taken. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i'll have a follow-up about the question raised of former mayor giuliani's influence for the fbi during these investigations and others and i'd ask your commitment if you're confirmed to respond to those questions. >> will you respond? >> absolutely, senator, i look forward to being responsive to the members of this committee in
whatever way is appropriate. >> i didn't mean to interrupt, i'm sorry. >> your words today will matter, america is listening about what's going on in this hearing and you're going to be speaking pretcy soon as the top cop in the land. are you familiar with a article from politico january the 11th, 2017 titled ukrainian efforts to sabotage trump back fire? >> i am not, senator. >> i'm going to read a little portion. donald trump wasn't the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former soviet bloc country. you' ukrainian officials tried to help clinton and undermine trump by questioning his fitness for office and implicating a top trump aid in corruption and they were investigating the matter only to back away after the election.