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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  July 12, 2017 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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system, but i don't think that's the right model for us. >> thank you. election infrastructure, senator sasse raised this a bit, you look at what happened in this last election, what may happen going forward, one of the jobs of the fbi is to coordinate with the election assistance commission, to follow up on cyberattacks. and tell me you'll make this a priority moving forward and help us to prepare as we go into this next election. >> senator, i think the integrity of our elections has to be a very, very top priority, it is at the core of who we are as a country. and any threat, whether from a nation state, or a nonstate actor, needs to be taken very, very seriously and the fbi has a huge role in that. >> in a broader fashion, russian has vast criminal networks that the kremlin uses to sow instability. we heard about this, ukraine and
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georgia. and a lot of times they're using shell companies as are other entities, homes in the u.s. worth $5 million using shell company companies. would you require more transparency in luxury real estate transactions, we're trying to figure out where the money is going and how you follow money. i think it was you that said at the beginning that you're more likely to find a terrorist not with his finger on a bomb, but his hands on a check. >> senator, i'm not familiar with the particular program that you describe, but i can tell you that i strongly agree that following the money is to me law enforcement 101. whether it is for organized gangs or drug trafficking or terrorism, that none of those things happen without money. and following the money and working closely with the treasury department i think is
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an uncommonly effective strategy to use. >> thank you. a few other matters, over the past year we have seen a staggering rise in hate crimes, in our state we had threats against the muslim community, of course, jewish community, and how would you approach this issue as fbi director? >> well, senator, i think crimes based on bigotry or prejudice can't be tolerated. and i think the fbi has an important role in being an aggressive investigator there. one of the most moving cases to me is the line prosecutor was a different kind of crime with a serial church arsonist who went around the country burning down churches and one of the churches he burned killed a volunteer firefighter. i think i mentioned maybe to senator franken that, you know, meeting with the mother of the dead firefighter and the roughly 7-year-old daughter of the dead firefighter is a memory that i will take with me forever. i have sort of a personal
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appreciation for the importance of prosecuting those crimes. >> very good. and i -- if we have a second round, i'll ask you about the personal work you've done with human trafficking, which is one of my top priorities, but i did have one other question on terrorist online recruiting. we had a number of instances of that in minnesota, and our former u.s. attorney andy luger and before that todd jones worked extensively with the fbi on this issue. i met with the fbi in minnesota on this issue. they showed me some of the internet targeting that is really designed to focus on people in our state because of the major somali population that we're so proud of in minnesota. and could you elaborate on this threat and what you believe the fbi should be doing to counter these types of online recruiting efforts that are going on around the country? >> well, senator, i think i need to get briefed up on the fbi's efforts in that area, especially the developments and technology.
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but my basic view is similar to my answer to senator feinstein, which was that we have to get earlier in the continuum to prevent plots. and that is recruitment, that is logistical planning that is fund-raising to your question about financing, there is a whole range of things that terrorist organizations do early on in the continuation. plots don't happen overnight. they take a time to germinate. we need to be in a position where we find them early and stop them early. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> before i turn to senator tillis, i would like to give you an update on the schedule. part of this is to give our nominee time for a break. three more senators will ask questions and then that ten minute break will come. i'm going to be leaving for votes. but i'll be back after that. senator sasse will gavel in the
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committee after we recess for the nominee to take a break. that will be around 12:40, 12:45. so you know that even though the vote takes a long time, we'll continue here. and then senator tillis, you're up next. i'm going to step out for my usual 12:00 telephone news conference with iowa press back in iowa. so i'll be back in ten minutes. >> mr. chairman, could i ask some clarification. what time are we breaking? >> 12:30, but you'll be asking questions at that time. so you will be the one that will recess the committee. >> okay. >> when is our vote? >> what? 12:30. >> 12:30. >> yeah. but you may be just finishing your questions about that time. >> okay. >> and then you'll go vote and senator sasse is already over there, he'll come back, and then hopefully we'll be able to -- i'll be back before that happens -- before he gets done or somebody else will take over
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so democrats should plan on -- okay. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator tillis, go ahead. >> thank you. trip and caroline, your dad is doing a great job. i really appreciate the way the committee is going and in total you and i had an opportunity to spend 30 minutes together yesterday. and you answered a lot of my questions so i'm not going to repeat them here, you answered them satisfactorily. i want to draw down on one thing that i think is important. i have a law enforcement advisory committee that i established when i became senator, i meet with people down in the state on a frequent basis. and one of the things that i want to amplify that senator klobuchar said was the importance of working with the local, state and local law enforcement agencies to really get the best leverage and the resources to support these
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investigations. one of the things that i think is important, i'm curious to see your own -- your own view of it, what is foundational to making those work are the equitable sharing programs that provide these local agencies with resources as a result of seizures in some cases. do you think that's an effective program that should be remain in place? >> i've heard nothing but good things about those arrangements. i'm not expert in them. it has been years since i focus ed on that. but certainly the ability for federal law enforcement to provide all manner of support whether partnering on investigations, training, technical support, grants, lots of things that federal government can do to, again, as i said before, have the state and local law enforcement be force multiplier to protect us all. >> thank you. i think as you get into there, because the support for the program has ebbed and flowed. at one point, it acquiesced for a while and really did cause disruptions.
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i know maybe a handful of cases nationwide maybe one instance in my state, so i think we should look at that, because there are misconceptions about how the program is run, whether or not there were any abuses of it. if those are true, we need to work on that. i think threatening or sending uncertainty out there could have a chilling effect on investments at local law enforcement will make in anticipation of some of the resources that better enable them to work with the agency that i'm commenced or going to be heading up. can we talk about going to section 215 and 702 and the importance you believe it has for the investigative process? >> yes, senator. the -- of course, it has been years since i dealt with fisa. which i did, you know, quite a bit in my past tour of duty in government service. and 702 itself was passed after i had left government. but from everything i've heard from the intelligence community, just like i said earlier, that i
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don't have any reason to doubt the intelligence community's assessment of the efforts by russia to interfere with our election, so too i have no reason to doubt what i hear in the intelligence community's assessment about the importance of section 702 as a vital tool in our efforts to protect america. i look forward to learning more about that tool, and about how it can be strengthened, enhanced and used effectively and appropriately. but i -- everything i've heard suggests to me that's a tool that needs to be high priority for the country to make sure it gets renewed appropriately. >> i think it would be very important, again, as we discuss it and we debate maybe some safety measures to make sure that it is not abused. i think most of them are already in play, i think it is very important, probably a little bit of time with the director of national intelligence, who before the senate armed services
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committee said that people will die if we go dark. that's a pretty profound statement from a high ranking official. i think we need to just look ahead and make sure we have to preserve those kind of tools for the agency and other intelligence agencies. the -- i guess the only other question that i have of you, i'm going to yield back some of my time, and i apologize, i won't be here for the next round, i'll be presiding, unless senator sasse would like to preside. i know how much you like that. i just want to go back and again echo, i think you've been very direct and answer to senator sasse's questions and other questions about russian meddling. i don't think there is anybody in the congress who would doubt that russia meddles in elections. they have meddled in elections for a very long time. the emergence of the cyber domain amplified their ability to do it more quickly and maybe on a broader basis.
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but assuming that, beyond what is already under investigation, do you -- do you have any sense of what more the fbi would do beyond the investigation thatta that you concede you may proceed with? >> i think there is more that i don't know yet than i do as an outsider sitting before this committee. so i look forward to making that a high priority. i will say that in addition to providing all the appropriate support to former director mueller's special counsel investigation, there is, of course, also a counterintelligence function that the fbi has to play. and i'm sure there are things that the fbi working with its partners in the intelligence community will need to do to protect us going forward, which is sort of a different role than what special counsel mull muells doing, a more backwards looking type of thing.
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there is synergy between the two, lessons learned and that kind of thing. >> i thank you. again, you should be first very proud that you were nominated for this position. you should be very proud of the -- of the demeanor and the kinds of questions and the insights that others on this committee have given to you that i think it is a true testament to your work experience and the quality of you as the next director of the fbi. i look forward to supporting your nomination. thank you and congratulations to your family. >> thank you, senator. >> i was deferring to the senator from california. but senator franken, i think you're up. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, mr. wray, for meeting with me yesterday. i enjoyed our meeting. it was a good meeting. i actually, senator tillis, asked the question i wanted to
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ask, what the role going forward of the fbi is distinct from former director mueller's special prosecutor would be. you answered that question. but i'm glad that you answered that question saying that part of what the fbi will be doing is working so this doesn't happen again. i think we got to keep our eye on that ball, because 2018 will be upon us soon and we don't want this to happen again. now, before i turn to my questions, i'd like to first thank senator hatch for his work on the child protection improvement act, and i would thank you for your commitment to help us get that -- that bill passed and done. this is -- it helps organizations like organizations that do mentoring for kids, to get background checks, so that
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vulnerable -- this is also for people who work with seniors, for the elderly, they should be able to effectively screen their workers and their volunteers to make sure that they're trustworthy, thank you for your commitment on that. this is something we have been trying to get done for a while and i have these groups that are doing unbelievably great work asking for this. and i thank you for that. and for the record, senator graham, i think he would have made a great fbi agent. and i'm glad that also that he's in the senate. that said, i don't know about the article, the january politico article, that suggested that someone in the ukraine wanted to pass some information off to the clinton campaign. but i think i know the answer to this. i think you know the answer to the question. did the ukraine or ukraine
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rather hack the rnc's database? did they hack kellyanne conway? did the clintons want to build a hotel in kiev? i think there is a big difference here and we know what russia did and that's -- that's a big deal. and thank you for saying that part of your job is -- is making sure it doesn't happen again. we here, of course, have oversight over the fbi. will you come before us periodically so that we can do our oversight? >> yes, senator, i expect i'll be seeing a fair amount of the committee if confirmed. >> do you think that attorney general sessions should come before us periodically so we can
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exercise our oversight? >> well, senator, don't speak for the attorney general and his appearances, but i'm sure he values his committee having been a member of it and would need to appear before it periodically. >> yeah, i agree. let me ask you about when director comey was fired, one of the justifications was made that director comey had lost the confidence of rank and file fbi agents. you have known jim comey for a long time. and you worked alongside him and you know a good number of people at the fbi, back from your time at the justice department. is that your experience talking to them? >> well, senator, obviously i haven't done a scientific sampling of the 36,000 men, and women of the fbi. >> why not?
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sorry, go ahead. >> i appreciate your patience with me on that one. all the people i've spoken with at the fbi, from senior people to rank and file people, strike me as the same fbi i've always known and loved, which is people who are mission focused, who believe in what they're doing, who are going to follow the facts and the law wherever it takes them, they have got their head down, their spirit up, and they're charging ahead. now, if there is somebody, somewhere, who feels differently that could be. i haven't met those people recently. >> yo don't think director comey is a nut job, right? >> that's never been my experience. >> okay. i'm glad to hear that. if you are asked in some kind of
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setting by the president to stop an investigation of somebody, aside from saying no, would you report that? to us? >> well, i would report it to the deputy attorney general assuming he wasn't already sitting there with me hearing it. and we would have a discussion about what we lawfully and appropriately can share with whom. but i would want to make sure that all the right people knew. >> i want to thank senator klobuchar for bringing up hate crimes. this is what former fbi -- former director comey explained, about hate crimes. he said they're different from other crimes because they strike at the heart of one's identity. they strike at our sense of self, our sense of belonging,
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the end result is loss of trust, is loss of trust, lost of dignity, and the worst case, loss of life. and my view, that loss of dignity is a part of what makes hate crimes so pernicious. when an act of violence is motivated by hate against a particular group, properly identifying that act as a hate crime and prosecuting it as such can go a long way to restoring that dignity. but hate crimes are often underreported. both by victims and by state and local law enforcement. and in part that's because the federal hate crime law does not require state and local police departments to report incidents to the fbi, so there is often little incentive to do that. but recently an investigation by journalists revealed that at least 120 federal agencies are not uploading information about the hate crimes that they investigate and prosecute into
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the fbi's database. and in fact, even the fbi isn't recording all of the hate crimes it investigates into its own database. and that to me is a problem. we need accurate data about the scope of the challenge in order to appropriately direct prevention and enforcement resources, but we can't do that if we don't know how many incidents there are or where they have taken place. if, mr. wray, if the federal government is not keeping accurate data in its own databases, how can we expect local and state police departments to step up? >> i share your concern about the need for accurate data. i'm not familiar with how the reporting system works or as you're describing maybe doesn't work right now. but it is something i would look forward to learning more about and drilling down on and figuring out how it can be done
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better. >> would you commit to me to help address this problem and work to improvimprove boarding state and local entities the number of hate crimes that they are dealing with? >> well, i would commit to taking a hard look at the issue early in my tenure and looking for ways we could work together on the issue. >> okay, well, thank you very much. mr. wray, i've been very impressed with our meeting, i've been impressed with your testimony here today. you have come here at a hard time, this is under very extraordinary circumstances and i thank you for your willingness to take on this job and i, you know, i'm looking around, i'm feeling that you had a good
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hearing today and best of luck to you. >> thank you, senator. that means a lot. >> senator kennedy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. wray, you have a very impressive resume. and i agree with senator franken, i think you've done very well today. who interviewed you for this job? >> senator, i was contacted originally i d lly by deputy at general rosenstein. that's the first inkling i had that today was a gleam in anybody's eye. i met shortly thereafter with deputy attorney general rosenstein and attorney general sessions together, the two of them. and then as has been publicly reported, i think it was the day after memorial day, i had a brief meeting at the white house
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that was attended by several people from the white house, including the president as well as several people from the department. and another similar meeting and then i was announced as the intended nominee. >> okay. indulge me a second, for my second question, i have to lay a little bit of a foundation. and so my colleagues alluded to this today, but our country began as a -- a self-reliance, likely taxed, debt averse union of states. but our country's changed a lot in a couple hundred years. i don't mean this to be a pejorative statement, i mean it to be factual. the power of the federal government, the united states
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government, is breathtaking. and i don't think there is a single agency that is more symbolic of that power than the f fbi. you can run people's lives. and hopefully when that happens they deserve it. who did what to whom in the last election will be a distant memory. at some point the investigation of russia's interference in the election will be over. what will remain is the fbi and its reputation. i don't think the fbi is a political body, not the rank and file members. don't want to believe that.
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and i don't believe that. but i worry about the perception that some americans might have about the fbi. based on some of the testimony that this committee and others have heard in the past, not today. here's what i'm looking for. i want you to be a-political. i don't want you to exhaust yourself trying to make political friends up here. i want you to be socrates. i want you to be dirty harry with the bad guys. i want you to tell me how you're going to do that in this environment. >> well, senator, first, let me say that i have, i think, a heightened appreciation for the point that you're making about the power of the fbi, and what you said about the fbi's ability
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to ruin people's lives. one of the things i did even as head of the criminal disk was i tried to meet with every new hire and we're talking about over 400 lawyers, but every time we had a new hire, i would spend 10 to 15 minutes, one on one with that person and one of the points i would try to make is that the decisions that that prosecutor would make and the same thing would be true, obviously, for fbi agents in spades, short of their wedding, or a death in their family, the public's interaction with law enforcement is the most meaningful impactful experience those people ever have. and so prosecutors and agents need to conduct themselves in a way that remembers that. and remembers that power and remembers how much significance they had. these are not just the people
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they deal with, whether it is targets of investigations, witnesses, victims, family members, jurors, doesn't matter. all those people will remember their interaction with law enforcement in a way that people in law enforcement do this every day, may not remember quite as vividly. they need to conduct themselves in a way that keeps that in mind. second thing i would say in response to your question is i come back to the point that i made in answer to senator klobuchar, the importance of process. the process needs to have integri integrity. the process needs to be independent. the process needs to be free from favor, free from influence, free from fear, free from partisan politics, because if people have confidence in the process, then they can have confidence in the results. sometimes the results will be charges, sometimes those results will be deckly nations. >> let me ask you about the process and i appreciate your answer. i think history will demonstrate
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that white houses have been offering their advice to the fbi director for decades. where do you draw the line? i mean, if the white house calls you -- i'm anxious to know or curious to know how it works interi internally. if the white house calls you and says we were reading about a story on medicaid fraud in a particular state, and we think you ought to look into that, is that appropriate? >> my response to something like that, senator, would be to say, if you have evidence, same thing i would say to anybody in this country, if you have evidence of a crime, that you think the fbi needs to look in, give us the evidence, we'll take a look at it, we'll make an assessment, we'll play it by the book. and just like with any witness who is supplying information, i
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would consider the source and i would try to take into account the particular circumstances if there was any other agenda or anything else going on. but the white house might have information about, in your hypothetical, about a crime that might need to be investigated and i would take that seriously, like i would from anybody. >> all right. suppose the attorney general who i know has recused himself, let's suppose for a moment -- i don't want to personalize this, but let's suppose on acting attorney general called you and said stop referring to the russian investigation as an investigation and refer to it as a matter. what would you do? >> well, senator, i think i would need to understand why they thought the description was inaccurate. i tend to be somebody who listens with an open mind and to hear what the explanation is,
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but if i disagree with the characterization, i'm going to have to play it by the book. and call it what it is. >> suppose the reason that you were asked to do that is because -- because matter plays better with the public than investigation the investigation. >> then i would try to persuade the person asking me as to why the request was ill considered. >> and what if they said do it anyway? >> i would consult with the appropriate ethics officials and make a judgment about what my next course of action should be. >> okay. and what if they said the ethics, well, strike that, i don't know -- let's not speculate what the ethics people would say. we have an extraordinary crime problem in new orleans. we're rapidly becoming the murder and armed robbery capital of the western hemisphere.
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if you're confirmed, and i believe you will be, can i count on you to, within the limited scarce resources you have, and all resources, we're wrestling with a huge crime problem and we're losing. >> well, senator, you can count on me to take a hard look and figure out how we can be more effective in new orleans, just like we need to figure out how we can be more effective in every city that is targeted by violent crime. >> okay. thank you, mr. wray. >> thank you, senator. >> madam chair, madam ranking member, i was handed a note and i'm supposed to say, but you can say it if you'd like, that we will -- we will -- kind of like senator nunn, isn't it?
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we will stand in recess for ten minutes. if i had a gavel, i'd bang it. >> well, an interesting morning session, 12:32 exactly here on the east coast. their first break since getting under way just after 9:30 eastern time. amid all of the questioning and all of the answers, two particular quotes from senators about mr. wray's new life, if in fact he is confirmed by the senate stand out. orrin hatch said, i'm not sure it is going to be a nice life. after referencing what a nice life in private practice counselor wray has enjoyed. and lindsey graham, who just came out and said, you're going to be director of the fbi, pal. interesting choice of words by
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two of the senators. before we talk more about what just transpired, we want to go from the senate to the house in effect. adam schiff, california democrat, who is ranking democrat, on house intel has been kind enough to wait for this break with us and stand by to talk to us. congressman, i've been cautioned that because of your schedule of meetings on the house side, you unlike us have not been able to listen to and follow the testimony, but luckily there is plenty of other material to talk to you about. most notably a story in the past hour from the mcclatchy newspaper group about your investigation and other investigations turning toward jared kushner in his role as supervising the data operation during the trump campaign. you're quoted in the article, what can you tell us and our audience about your knowledge of
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this? >> what we're looking at and i don't want to point to particular individuals, is any form of coordination that u.s. persons may have had with the russian efforts to interfere in our election. that can take many forms, including what was the subject of that article. and that is did the russians, through the use of paid social media trolls and bots attempt to drive negative stories about secretary clinton or completely false stories with the most of the public views as fake news, not what the president calls fake news. but did they drive this inaccurate or negative reporting in a targeted way that wouldn't be possible without coordination with the campaign? that is one of the issues that we're examining with any other forms of coordination, the coordination in the dissemination of derogatory information, the subject of the e-mails with the president's son. but, yes, that social media issue, the use of data analytics, whether there was any cooperation, coordination or
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collusion, is part of our investigation. >> there is also a quote in here, congressman, from mike carpenter, former senior pentagon official, who specialized in russian matters. quote, there appears to have been significant cooperation between russia's online propaganda machine, and individuals in the united states who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation. and i guess quotes like that and revelations like that, knowledge like that, is what motivates the anger on your part and others in congress as to where is the urgency? where is the -- where is the anger that we have been attacked by another nation? >> well, i think this raises a broader issue and that is during the course of the campaign, it became known, the administration acknowledged as did senator feinstein and i even earler that the rug russian were trying to
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an impact on our election. you're right, it was a great frustration then. it is a great concern now. that we didn't have the country acting as one to renounce any kind of foreign interference and, in fact, one of the candidates donald trump openly invited it and said, hey, russians, if you're listening, hack hillary clinton's e-mails, you'll be richly rewarded. when they were hacked and dumped, the campaign, donald trump, continually championed wikileaks, championed those disclosures, even though those were the product of foreign intervention. somehow, brian, the only way to protect us in the future is to develop a consensus we didn't have last year, no matter who it helps or who it hurts, both parties, all americans will reject any kind of foreign interference. >> i want to take advantage of the fact that our colleague andrea mitchell happens to be here in the studio with us and
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bring her into the conversation. >> to follow up on that, is there any evidence so far that anyone from the digital campaign working in this very sophisticated campaign that was under the direction of jared kushner and led by brad pesko and others who did a good job for the trump campaign, that they had any engagement at all with the russian operatives who are through cutouts? >> i can't go into what evidence the committee has seen, but i can tell you that we are going to be interviewing witnesses and are meeting with people to explore these very allegations to make sure we get to the bottom if there was any form of coordination in that social media campaign that was coming out of moscow. but i don't want to suggest that we're at the conclusion of that. i think in many respects we're closer to the beginning of our investigation than to the end. but certainly we need to
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determine whether this was one of the russian modalities, that is did they have a targeted operation, such that it would be impossible to have that level of sophistication without getting some help from the campaign? that is one of the questions. i don't want to suggest what answer we'll ultimately reach. >> and the president has been silent in terms of not having any public events, no news conferences, for more than 140 days. but he has been tweeting today, with of his twoeets, the white house is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cut reforms and many other things. i have very little time for watching tv. the other, why aren't the same standards placed on the democrats, look what hillary clinton may have gotten away with, disgraceful. one of my colleagues pointing out that the clinton secret sver and e-mails were first disclosed by the new york times in 2015. do you have any evidence that
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things are functioning normally on capitol hill, in terms of health care and tax reform and other agenda items from the administration? >> there is no evidence i think this white house is functioning normally. all the evidence is quite to the contrary in terms of the tremendous dysfunction in the administration. that is largely the president's own making. in the national security and foreign policy area that i do so much work in, you constantly have conflicting signals sent out about what the policy of the united states is, even when you look at this meeting between the president and vladimir putin, the president saying, we never discussed sanctions within 24 to 48 hours, you have his own press secretary basically saying that is not true. they were discussed. you have secretary mattis and others working to try to diffuse tensions in the gulf between qatar and saudi arabia and other states in the region. and you have the president basically saying, i'm with saudi
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arabia, and, against qatar in this. you could come up with any number of examples of this, both in terms of foreign policy as well as domestic policy. and for the president to suggest this is perhaps the most, you know, would be comical, i suppose, statement, that he doesn't watch cable news, doesn't have time for it, it seems like he doesn't have time for anything else given the constant attacks he's making against people who are tv hosts, some of the most pernicious attacks. really hard to take these most recent tweets and statements seriously. >> and finally, questions of have been asked of the hearing about what -- what people would do if they saw, you know, any attempts by foreign countries, particularly russia, an adversary, to interfere with the campaigns. how do you read the don jr. e-mails and that meeting that he held with paul manafort, with jared kushner and his response,
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you know, i would love it, especially later in the summer. how do you read that whole episode in terms of traditional russian trade craft? >> well, i think this is so clearly exactly how russian trade craft works. that is they want to influence the election of the united states, how do they communicate this, how do they potentially get useful information to the candidate they want to help donald trump, they go through the oligarchs, go through cutouts. in this case, they went through an oligarch considered the russian donald trump, real estate tycoon, through his son, through a middle man, this gold stone intermediary, they dispatched this russian lawyer and with enough deniability that they can say, well, she's not with us, this is russian trade craft. the response that the trump campaign should have given and you had three high profile trump campaign people at this meeting should have been we're not
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interested, we're going to alert the fbi, but instead, it was we're going to take this meeting at this critical time when we're sewing up the nomination, it is that important to have all three of them present, and their defense seems to be, i watched the interview with don jr. last night, it seems to be, yeah, we went to get this dirt on hillary clinton from russia, and we were told that the russian government wanted to help in intervene in the election in this way, but we were disappointed because we didn't get the goods. first of all, we can't rely on the representation that they didn't get something at that meeting, but they certainly sent a signal back to moscow that they were more than interested and in this, and indeed would love it if they could get this kind of help from the russian government. >> indeed, congressman, there are surrogates last night were saying on our air and other networks nothing came of it. and to your point, we cannot prove or say with any certainty that nothing came of it. we only have seen the one e-mail
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chain. congressman adam schiff, california -- >> i would also add nothing came of it because not for lack of trying on the trump campaign's part. at least that's their story and that's not a particularly great defense. >> congressman, thank you very much for taking our questions and being patient with us. adam schiff of california. let's go over to our justice correspondent pete williams, and as we come to you, i note we have a little news, dianne feinstein ranking democrat on senator judiciary has told a group of reporters and cameras outside the hearing room, she, unless evidence comes up that changes her vote, is a yes vote on mr. wray to be the next fbi director. >> it may end up being unanimous. al franken said at the end of his questioning, i think you had a good hearing here today. really didn't have any members of the democratic party indicating they wouldn't vote for him. so what you this is christopher
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wray checking all the boxes, saying no one asked him for a pledge of loyalty that he wouldn't give one if he was asked, he was asked what if the president asked you to do something illegal, he said i would try to talk him out of it, and if that didn't work, i would resign. he defended robert mueller, special counsel investigation, said he wouldn't describe it as a witch-hunt. and then he had a very interesting line on james comey. on the one hand, he said he certainly wouldn't describe him as a nut job as the president apparently did in a meeting with russians. but he also was careful to say that he wouldn't have done what comey did in terms of the news conference last july when mr. comey said he didn't believe hillary clinton should be prosecuted, but also went on to be very strongly critical of her handling of classified information. so i think he basically did what he had to do here, saying he's going to be independent, that he will do his best to insulate the fbi and robert mueller to the extent that's his responsibility from any kind of political influence to make sure the
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russia investigation is properly handled. >> while modesty prevents pete from admitting this, he had the sound bite of the day prior to the hearing getting started, when he pointed out, if sesame street were sponsoring today's hearing, it would be brought to you by the word independent and pete, no sooner had you said that, we heard the word over and over again. >> from both the chairman's grassley's opening statement, diane fine stoinne feinstein's statement. >> pete williams in our washington bureau. let's go quickly across town to the white house. kelly o'donnell is standing by there as the witness comes back into the hearing room and, kelly, we have one eye on mr. wray and the panel. we'll cut out if questioning resumes. but we understand the president has granted an interview to pat robertson. we'll be hearing snippets of that tonight, but it is for air
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tomorrow night when the president is in paris, correct? >> that's our understanding. the christian broadcasting network is home to the 700 club and pat robertson. there is a friendship there. and expect that this will be an interview where the president will try to in some way support his son, and also it may be more wide ranging than that, we don't yet know. we do expect they will give us a clip. to give you a sense of the behind the scenes here, i saw the truck that brings the leather chairs back to the roosevelt room off loading those. they clear the roosevelt room if an interview is going to be done there. so the chairs are back, which suggests the interview is completed and we'll be awaiting a clip from the president, his first on camera comments since the revelations about his son's involvement with this meeting. his tweets have been a voice of that as well. >> kelly, thanks. to our other guest standing by, our thanks and apologies, we'll get to you.
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the hearing, however, has resumed. let's go back inside. >> when president trump abruptly fired him without cause and without warning. and president trump said when he fired director comey, that he was thinking about the fbi's investigation of russian interference into our elections, an investigation that director comey was then overseeing. so now more than ever i believe it to be crucial this our next fbi director be prepared to be steadfastly independent. as we had a chance to discuss, before this hearing, it falls on you today to clearly demonstrate to our committee that you possess the legal and victimive and management skills required for the position for which you've been nominated, but you have a fierce commitment to maintaining the integrity of the fbi as an independent agency and that you will conduct yourself as fbi director in a way that is above partisanship. let's move to it if we might. first, how will you ensure that the fbi provides all the resources that special counsel mueller needs to conduct and
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complete the investigation he's currently in charge of? >> well, senator, the first thing i would do if confirmed is to reach out to former director mueller and elicit his advice about what he needs and whether he's getting it from the fbi. and knowing former director mueller and knowing what a straight talker and plain talker he is, i have no doubt that if he's not getting what he needs, he would let me know. >> i agree. attorney general sessions praised your selection as the fbi nominee. did you interview with attorney general sessions? >> i interviewed with deputy attorney general rosenstein and sessions together at the same time. >> did either of them ask you about the conduct of the russia investigation during your interview? >> no. >> attorney general sessions, as we have discussed and you well know, is recused from and i quote, any existing or future investigations of any matters
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regulate e related in any way to the investigation of the president of the united states. is it appropriate for the attorney general to make public comments on the ongoing investigation to engage in decisions about resourcing, funding are staffing? is that an appropriate part of his management role of the agency as attorney general? >> well, senator, i'm not sure it is for me to speak to the attorney general's decision-making about his own public comments. i would say that if he's recused from an investigation, to me that means he shouldn't be participating in decision-making about the investigation. but, of course, the attorney general is the head of the entire justice department. and there is, as important as this particular investigation
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is, and it is extremely important, in my view, there are many, many, many other things that the fbi and the department are responsible for and i think that is the appropriate role fo >> so i'll agree with you that, in my view, it's not appropriate for the attorney general to participate in investigations related to the trump campaign. and as the person in charge of the operations of the department of justice, he is involved in making it the highest-level management decisions. but it's exactly those decisions about the access to resources, the scope, the trajectory of bob muller's investigation that i wanted to make sure i got to. will you commit to studying the scope of attorney general sessions' recusal and ensuring appropriate procedures are in place to honor it at the fbi and then reporting any violations of that recusal to this congress? >> well, senator, i'm not sure i'm the authority over his
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recusal scope. what i would commit to you is that i will take a close look shortly upon being confirmed, if confirmed, to, as i said, making sure that former director mueller, now special counsel muller, has all the appropriate resources that he ought to have. and my expectation is that i would remain committed to that support, regardless of any decisions by anybody else in the department. >> so in a directive came down from the attorney general about prioritization or resources that you thought inappropriately interfered, were interfered in any way with the resources requested by special counsel muller, you would act to prevent that from hindering the investigation. >> i would not tolerate any inappropriate influence on special counsel muller's investigation, to the extent that i'm supporting it. at the end of the day, it's his investigation. >> we had another conversation last week. it's been raised by other
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colleagues, about an episode during your time at the department of justice when you were prepared to resign. and this was over an ongoing, but unauthorized by congress surveillance program. and you testified previously, you hadn't been ready to all the details of it, and if seemed in some ways you were going on a gut hunch. you were following people who you knew were thoroughly read in, whom you practiced closely with and admired. now in hindsight, you've had time to better understand what was going on, what was the contest and what were the issues. in hindsight, were you right to be willing to throw your career aside and to be willing to join these folks in resigning, had they had to? and would you do that again? >> as to the first part of your question, senator, i have not for any minute ever regretted my willingness to resign as i explained it to deputy attorney general comey at the time. my decision was not based solely
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on gut. my decision was based on knowledge, very close working knowledge with the range of people who were read-in, and knowing that they were not, as i said to senator whitehouse, not shrinking violets. very tough on terror. very thoughtful. intellectually honest people. and people who, by the way, didn't all agree with each other all of the time. so when i put all of that together, my familiarity of those people, how they think, how they come out on war and terror issues, and knowing that they felt strongly enough that they were willing to resign over much greater knowledge of the program than i had at the time, i was confident then that resigning with them, if necessary, was the right decision. and now later, having learned many more of the facts that weren't available to them -- to me then, i'm even more confident than it would have been the right decision. >> thank you. thank you for that.
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former attorney general bow, i think you quoted before, you should be willing to resign if necessary over conduct if you're pressed to engage in it that's either unethical, illegal or unconstitutional. could you just explore for me for a few more minutes, what were the values that you brought to that decision, and what values among those three, or others, would you bring to having to make a similar decision in the future if you get pressed to do something that meets one of those three tests suggested by former attorney general? >> well, the values i brought to that particular decision were the knowledge that it was the appropriate -- that the appropriate parts of the justice department and the fbi were doing their job, doing their duty, to evaluate the legality of the program in question. and i thought that knowing the confidence that i had in them and their commitment to duty, their ability to do their job, that that needed to be
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respected. respected even to the point of me having to resign to support them in it. i'm not sure if i got all of your question. so i might need you to refresh me. >> that's more than satisfactory. thank you. acting attorney general sally yates was fired after she refused to defend the travel ban, based on her concerns the order wasn't lawful or consistent with the facts. if you were fired or resign for refusing to carry out a presidential order, will you commit to come to congress to testify about that decision and what drove you to make that decision? >> well, certainly, if i legally and appropriately can. i mean, i would need to know the circumstances of any particular situation. but i would want to comply with the law and the rules, first and foremost. but if i can, i would comply with any lawful request from congress. >> let me, if i now in my last minute return to a question that was raised earlier. i just want to make sure we've gotten this clearly. senator graham asked you about
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an e-mail to donald trump jr. offering the trump campaign very high-level and sensitive information. and this is a quote from the e-mail. as part of russia and its government support for mr. trump. chief ethics lawyers for former presidents george w. bush and president obama have said, and this is a joint quote, we have worked on political campaigns for decades. and have never heard of an offer like this one. if we had, we would have insisted upon immediate notification of the fbi. and so would any normal campaign lawyer, official, or even senior volunteer. russian interference in our election happened, and may very well happen again. if a campaign staffer or a senator or someone working around them gets an offer of foreign government assistance to defeat its opponent, do you agree the right thing to do is to promptly notify the fbi? >> senator, i would hope that anyone who was aware of an
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effort to -- or an attempt to interfere with our elections would report that to the appropriate authorities. i mean, just whether it's somebody in the campaign or somebody anywhere else. i think the -- especially in the context of cyber type intrusions. the fbi and others in the intelligence community depend on people who are receiving the contact from reaching out and coordinating with law enforcement intelligence community. and that's a big, important part of the messaging on that effort. and so i would think anybody in that situation -- i would hope -- would want to bring the issue to the attention of the appropriate authorities, assuming they think that something untoward or inappropriate has occurred. >> can you reach any other conclusion from that e-mail, other than something untoward and inappropriate is being proffered? >> senator, i haven't read the
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e-mail. i haven't even had a chance to read any of the newspaper coverage. it's all happened during a time when i've spent all day going from one senate building to another meeting with all of your colleagues. and so i'm sorry, but i just don't know the details of the e-mail. >> i think senator graham has already asked for you to get ready to respond to us in the future. do i have a few more minutes, or senator sas, do you have another round of questions? i understand we're waiting for another senator. >> we also have votes. you can go two more, but not a full round. two more minutes. >> i will conclude. >> thank you, sir. >> let me simply say to your family, i'm grateful for your willingness to undertake this. and to you personally, i'm grateful for your willingness to undertake this. as we spoke, i think we are at an absolutely essential moment for the future of rule of law. and respect for our institutions and traditions in this country. and as you've heard from senators both republican and democrat, this is a -- an essential confirmation hearing and a critical role which you're undertaking. because of the pace at which
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things are moving, because of the challenges and issues and allegations in front of us, because of the central role the fbi plays in counter intelligence and enforcing our laws and protecting our republic. and i am confident that you have the skills, the experience and the values to be a great fbi director. and i appreciate your testimony in front of this committee today. >> thank you, senator. it means a lot. >> thank you. i would like to associate myself with those comments from the senator from delaware, as well. i think this is a critically important time in public life, and for not just the rule of law, but also the norms around it. and i appreciate the thoughts and sentiments from the delaware senator. i would like to return to something you said in your opening statement. and i'm quoting you. while the fbi has justly earned its reputation as the finest law enforcement agency in the world, its special agents, analysts and staff 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
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they believe that the principles they serve are so much larger than themselves. it's beautifully crafted, and as someone whose worked with and around the bureau before, 36,000 current employees of the bureau, is that right? >> i think it's about that. >> some really thoughtful, selfless public servants who do toil often at great financial costs compared to what they could earn in the private sector without a lot of recognition. obvio oftentimes in danger and at threats of life and limb and time away from home. and thank you for representing them in the way you talk about the mission and the culture of the bureau. obviously, there have been some dark times at the bureau in the past. we have spoken a little bit today about director hoover, and the ways that he mismanaged that agency, 45, 50 years ago. but also there was politicization of the bureau by white houses and administrations across both parties. the kennedy administration, the jo


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