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tv   Wolf  CNN  March 20, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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collection under the foreign intelligence surveillance act of a person or individual either because they're a foreign person located outside the united states or the person that you are collecting against, is the subject of a fisa court order. if incidental to that collection or inadvertently the collection results in the collection of communications of an incoming u.s. administration official, the president-elect or the president-elect's transition team, are you required under the minimization procedures to cease collection? >> not automatically. >> thank you. so the answer is no, correct? well, the reason why this is important is because intuitively we would all know that the incoming administration would have conversations with those that the intelligence community may be collecting against. either by making phone calls to them or receiving phone calls to them. it's important for us to understand that the minimization procedures that are intended to collect the privacy rights of americans do not inherently
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include a prohibition of the intelligence communities inadvertently collecting the communications of an incoming administration. mr. comey, are you aware whether or not the director of national intelligence, director clapper, ever briefed the president of the united states, then president obama, concerning the possible inadvertent or incidental collection or interception by the u.s. intelligence community of any communication of members of the incoming trump administration? >> that's not something i can comment on. >> then why not, mr. comey? >> a couple of reasons. it might involve classified information. it might involve communications with the president of the united states. on both of those grounds, i can't talk about it here. >> mr. comey, have you previously discussed your conversations with president obama with this committee? >> i don't remember. it may have with the chair and
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ranking. i don't remember with the full committee. >> we'll have to refresh your memory on those conversations then. mr. comey, did president obama ever acknowledge to you of having been briefed concerning possibly inadvertent or incidental collection or interception by the intelligence community by any members of the incoming trump administration? >> i have to give you the same answer, mr. turner. >> well, mr. comey, the first question related to whether or not mr. clapper had briefed the president of the united states and we'll certainly be following up with him. he is going to be appearing before us next week. we'll certainly be directing the question to him also. mr. comey, are you aware of any evidence that general flynn prior to the inauguration ever communicated to the russian government or russian government official that the trump administration in the future would release, rescind, or reverse u.s. sanctions against
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russia or ever made any offer of a quid pro quo for releasing, rescinding, reversing sanctions against russia? >> that's not something i can comment on, mr. turner. >> why is that? >> i'm trying very hard not to talk about anything that relates to a u.s. person or that might rule in or rule out things that might be investigating. please don't -- please don't interpret my no comment as meaning this or meaning that. i just can't comment. >> mr. comey, there are statutes, guidelines and procedures concerning what does it take for the fbi to open up the counter intelligence investigation into a u.s. citizen. it's not just subject to discretion. you can't just say, well, let's go look at somebody. you have to have a basis. you have now informed us that you have opened a counter intelligence investigation into the trump campaign, members of the trump campaign in concerning russia in july of 2006.
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now, we're trying to get a picture of what does it take to tip over for an investigation? people have said that there have been individuals who attended a meeting with russian officials, individuals who -- a member who is paid to attend a conference, a picture that was taken, travelled to a foreign place. there are many people both in all of our administrations and sometimes, you know, certainly members who have left congress who would qualify for that. what is the tipping point? i mean, it can't just be that. don't you need some action or some information besides just attending a meeting, having been paid to attend a conference, that a picture was taken or that you traveled to a country before you're open to investigation for counter intelligence by the fbi? >> the standard is i think it was a couple different at play. a credible allegation of wrong dong or reasonable basis to believe that an american may be acting as an agent of a foreign power. >> the reason why we're struggling with this, mr. comey,
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is that we obviously have the statements of mr. clapper that there's no evidence of collusion with russia, and you just left the intelligence community. as you were aware, we now sit because, as you said, admiral rogers, the russians wanted to put a cloud over our system, and mr. comey, by your announcement today, there is now a cloud that undermines our system. there is a cloud that where we're sitting with mr. clapper who is obviously in a very important position to know who stated to us that there's no evidence of conclusion and you will not give us evidence or give us any substantive evaluation of it. we now sit with this cloud, and it's important, mr. chairman, i have a few darnl questions if i might. >> we'll get back to you, mr. turner. mr. schiff is recognized for 15 minutes. >> i recognize jackie spear. >> thank you. let's go back to this tarantula
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web. mr. tillerson in 2014 started to lobby the united states government asking them to shift or lift the sanctions. now, in his confirmation hearing, he says -- as he said, i have never lobbied against sanctions personally to my knowledge. exxonmobil never directly lobbied against sanctions. yet, there is lobbying -- reports that exxonmobil actually paid over $300,000 to lobbyists in 2014, and that mr. tillerson visited the white house five times in 2014 and treasury with secretary lou seven times. is there something disconcerting about a u.s. ceo attempting to
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undermine the sanctions imposed by our government against another country for acts that we find to be disadvantageous to the world order. director comey. >> that's not a question that i can answer. for a variety of reasons i'm not qualified, and i shouldn'ting answering questions like that. zoo how about this then. is it disconcerting to you as the director of the fbi that a u.s. ceo would say publicly that he is very close friends with president putin and has had a 17-year relationship with him. >> that's not a question i can answer. >> would it raise any red flags? >> that's not a question i can answer. >> admiral rogers.
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>> lots of american corporations do business in russia. i have no knowledge of the specifics we're talking about. i'm in no way qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment on this. >> all right. let's move on to someone else in that web. his name is michael caputo. he is a p.r. professional and served conservative radio talk show host. in 1984 he moved to russia and he was working for the agency for international development. he was fired from that job because he refused to follow a state department position. he then opened a p.r. firm in moscow and married a russian woman. he subsequently divorced her, and in 1999 his business failed. roger stone, a mentor to him, urged him to move to florida and open his p.r. firm in miami, which is exactly what mr. caputo did. then in 2000 he worked with
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gasprom media to improve putin's image in the united states. now, do we know who gasprom media is? do you know anything about that, director? >> i don't. >> well, it's an oil company. in 2007 hebegan consultingthe ukrainian parliamentary campaign. there he met his second wife. so i guess my question is what possible reason is there for the trump campaign -- any thoughts on that, director comey? >> no thoughts. admiral rogers? >> likewise, ma'am. do either of you know what michael caputo is doing for the trump effort today? >> i have no idea. >> i'm not going to talk about u.s. persons.
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>> all right. let's move on now to carter paige. carter paige was the founder of global energy. it's an investment fund. he has only one partner, and that partner is sergei -- who is the former executive which is a russian state-owned gasprom oil company. before that from 2004 to 2007 he worked for merrill lynch in moscow. in march of 2016 then candidate trump referred to carter paige as his foreign policy advisor to the washington post. the next day paige asserts his -- that he is an advisor on russia and energy. but then subsequently candidate trump says he doesn't know him. on september 26 he takes a leave of absence from the campaign and
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then paige publicly supports a relationship with russia criticizes u.s. sanctions, and nato's approach to russia, saying -- then subsequently says he is divesting his stake in gasprom in august. in 2014 he writes an article criticizing the u.s. sanctions in an article in "global policy." then rebuked the west for focussing on so-called annexation of crimea. in july of to 16 he gives a graduation speech at the new economic school, denies meeting with the prime minister, christopher steel, and his dossier says he met with, again, igor session, offering a 19% interest in brozneft. it becomes the biggest transfer of public property to private ownership.
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now, carter paige is a national security advisor to donald tr p trump. do you believe that -- why do we -- i guess, again, here's another company that has had sanctions imposed upon it. why did we impose sanctions on companies? >> admiral rogers did it better than i, so i'm going to let him. >> i apologize. i don't remember the specifics of my answer, but i'm stand by my answer. >> okay. >> which was excellent. >> all right. i think at that point i will yield back, mr. chair. >> i now yield to mr. quigley. >> thank you, mr. ranking member. gentlemen, thank you for your service, and thank you for being here. we've talked a little bit about
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the russian playbook, right? extortion, bribery, false news, disinformation. they all sound very familiar, correct? well, as we talked without thinking about anybody in the united states, just generally the russian playbook and how it's worked in, particularly eastern europe and central europe, a lot of it involves trying to influence individuals in that country, correct? >> yes. >> so what we've talked about a little bit today seems to be sort of a black and white notion of whether there was collusion, but does a russian active measure attempting to succeed at collusion -- does the person involved have to actually know? does it have to involve knowing collusion for there to be damage? >> i can answer generally in the world of intelligence. oftentimes there are people who
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are called cooptees who don't realize they're dealing with agents of a foreign power, and so are doing things for someone he think is a friend or a business associate not realizing it's for that -- the foreign government. it can happen. it's actually quite a frequent technique. >> is it beyond that sometimes to include things where the actor doesn't necessarily know what they're doing is helping that other government? >> exactly. >> what are instances, just examples of what that might include in a generic sense in europe and -- >> oftentimes it's a researcher here in the united states may think they're dealing with a pier research er -- not knowing that that researcher is either knowingly or unwittingly passing information to a foreign adversary of the united states. >> can you explain and ewill be rate how this sort of problems with defining what collusion is,
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the differences that might be involved with explicit or implicit collusion? >> collusion is not a term -- a legal term of art. it's one i haven't used here today. we're investigating to see whether there was any coordination between people associated with the campaign. >> explicit or implicit coordination. >> i guess implicit -- i would think of it as knowing or unknowing. you can do things to help a foreign nation state without realizing that are you dealing with. you think you're helping a buddy who is a rechler at a university in china. what you are actually doing is passing information that ends up at the chinese government. that's unwitting. i don't know whether it's the same as you're implicit. explicit would be you know. i'm sending this touch stuff to this researcher in china, and i'm doing it because i want to help the chinese government, and i know he is hooked up with the chinese government. >> admiral rogers, other examples of what you witnessed in your career? >> sometimes u.s. individuals are being approached by other
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individuals connected with foreign connections who will misrepresent what the -- not just the researcher. they'll assume an identity, if you will. hey, i want you to think that i'm actually working for a business, exploring a commercial interest, those kinds of things. create a relationship. then it turns out there really is no commercial interest. they're acting as a direct extension of a foreign government. >> romance can be a feature. somebody dating someone, create a close relationship, and the u.s. government person thinks that they're in love with this person and vice versa, and the other person is actually an agent of a foreign power. a classic example. >> you describe this as naive acquiescence. >> i don't know what that really means. >> you are going along with it without really acknowledging or understanding in your mind. you're being naive about the issue where. >> sure, that can happen. >> we see that at times. >> okay.
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>> you can't comment upon. he wasn't one who had this contact can the wushans. there was the amended, i guess, testimony in which he acknowledged, i believe, too such testimonies. the first was in july during the convention and then later in september afterwards. all the while that the issues that we are talking about today, the hacking, the dumping of materials were taking place, and certainly someone in the position of mr. senator sessions would have been aware of this. perhaps would have remembered these conversations or might have mentioned to ask the russian ambassador to knock it off. apparently none of those things happened or he didn't that they
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happened. unfortunately, what we're reading now is that there was a third meeting as early as april of last year in washington d.c., a meeting which candidate trump was president and the russian ambassador was president. at some point in time this goes well beyond an innocent -- under the best of circumstances -- oh, i forgot sort of thing or that doesn't count. when you correct your testimony in front of the united states senate, you are still under oath. you are swearing to the american people that what you are saying is true. the third time is well beyond that and is quite simply perjury. as we look at this, as we go forward, gentlemen, i ask that you take that into consideration. this is far more than what we have talked about just in the general sense. did the russians hack or not?
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the scope of this to a concerted effort and plan to lie to the american public about what took place and what the motivations were beyond this process. again, i thank you for your service, and i yield back to the ranking member. >> i yield to mr. swallow of california. tloo thank you, director comey and admiral rogers. director comey, you have served time in a courtroom as a prosecutor, and i am wondering if you remember the instruction that is read to juries every day that if you decide that a witness deliberately lied about something significant in this case, you should consider not believing anything that witness says? >> yep. that's familiar to me. >> and your testimony at the beginning of this hearing was that president trump's claims that former president obama had wiretapped him is false. >> i said we have no information that supports them. >> with respect to donald trump, do you remember the other instruction relating to
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truthfulness of a witness or a department? if a defendant makes a false statement relating to the charged crime knowing it was false or intending to mislead, that conduct may also show he or she were aware of their guilt. >> that's familiar to me. from my distant past. i want to talk about the kremlin playbook. there are a number of ways that a foreign adversary can seek to influence a person. do you agree with that? >> yes. financial. yes, they can be one. >> romance you said is another. >> yes. >> compromise. >> correct. >> setting up a compromise. >> sure. to execute on a compromise. yes. >> how about inadvertently capturing a compromise? meaning they have vast surveillance and you stumble into that surveillance and are caught in a kfrp miez. >> then they take that information and try to use it to coerce you? that's part of the playbook. >> i'll yield back, chair, and
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continue once time is back with us. >> time is expired. we'll go back to mr. turner. >> thank you. gentlemen, i want to get back to the issue of admiral rogers indicated that the goal of the russians is to put a cloud on our system, to undermine our system. i would think certainly today mr. comey with your announcement of your investigation that the russians would be very happy with that as an outcome because the cloud of their actions and activities continues and will continue to undermine until you are finished with whatever your investigation is currently in the scope of. i want to go back to the issue of how does one open an investigation because, again, i'm a little confused by some of the things that we hear as to the basis of an investigation. mr. comey, if an individual attends a meeting with a foreign leader, is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation?
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>> that somebody met with somebody? no. >> without more than if they had their picture taken with a foreign leader, is that enough? >> it would depend upon where they were. who took the pictures. >> assume that they're in the foreign country and in that foreign leader's government offices or facilities, if they're having a picture taken with them, is that enough to open counter intelligence investigation? >> it would depend. >> on what? i mean, i'm saying if there's just a picture because i can tell you essential certainly there's lots of people who have had lots of pictures. is it enough that a person has just had their picture taken with a foreign leader at the foreign leader's government official offices or place of residents? >> the reason -- it would depend. did the person sneak over to the foreign country and meet them clandestinely. it was a picture that revealed something else about the relationship. >> let's say it's not
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clandestine. let's say it's open. the person has attended -- has gone over to meet with the foreign person, foreign government person, and is at their foreign government official facility or at their official residents and has a picture taken and has no intention of covertly being present with the foreign person. is that picture enough to open a counter intelligence investigation? >> tricky to answer hypotheticals, but i think my reaction to that is that doesn't strike me as enough. >> your next question is going to get me deeper into hypos. >> these are operate straight forward. i'm not getting into hypos. what are you if you are paid to attend a conference in a foreign country and you're paid to attend that conference not directly by the foreign government, but none theless payment does occur for you to attend the conference. certainly we know president bill clinton attended many such conferences and spoke and
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received payment. is receiving payment by attending to speak at a conference -- it's not covert. it's open. they're attending to speak at a conference. they receive payment for the purposes of speaking. is that enough to open a counter intelligence investigation? >> i can't say as i sit here. it would depend on a lot of different things. >> if you had no other information or evidence other than the fact that they attended, is that enough for you -- for the fbi to open a counter intelligence investigation of a private u.s. citizen? >> i can't answer the hypothetical because it would depend upon a number of other things. >> i limited it to where there would be no other things, mr. comey. i said only. if the only information that you had was that they had sfaend e attended an event in which they were paid and it was a conference and -- is that only sufficient information to open an investigation against a private u.s. citizen? >> who paid them? did they disclose it? who else was sitting with them. there's lots and lots of other circumstances that make that
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even that simple seeming hypo difficult to answer. >> let's say they travelled to a foreign country and they openly traveled. wasn't covert. is traveling there enough? >> just traveling around the world? no. >> okay. i'm very concerned, mr. comey, about the issue of how an investigation is open. how we end up at this situation once again where mr. clapper had the director of national intelligence just said that when he left, there was no evidence of conclusion and yet, as admiral rogers said, we're sitting now where the russian goal is being achieved of causing a cloud or undermining our electoral process. i certainly hope that you take an expeditious look at what you have undertaken because it affects the heart of our
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democracy. i have a question, again, concerning classified information. now, i know have handled a lot f classified information and recently, more recently, the purported classified information is put out in the press, the washington post, the "new york times", reports information, says and you know and i know and we all know we're having handled classified information that some of that information is not true. are there sources of that classified information, if they come out and lie about the
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content of classified information, have they committed a crime? >> it's a really interesting question. i don't think so if all they've done is lied to a reporter, that's not against the law. if they've done it and i don't want to break anybody's hearts with that, but that's not against the law. it is not -- the reason i'm hesitating is i can imagine a circumstance where it's part of some broader conspiracy or something, but just that false statement to a reporter is not a crime. >> i just want to score that first just for a second because i agree with you. i think it's no crime. every reporter out there that has someone standing in front of them and saying, oh, i'm taking this great risk of sharing with you u.s. secrets besides them purporting to be a traitor, are committing no crime if they lie to them, so all of these news articles that contain this information that we know is not the case are being done so at damage to the united states, but without the risk of a crime.
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my next aspect of your question to you, mr. comey, is this. what is the obligation of the intelligence community to correct such falsehoods? some of this information that we read in the washington post and the "new york times" is extremely false and extremely incindiary and extremely condemning of individuals and certainly our whole system. was your obligation, mr. comey, to be that source to say i can't release classified information, but i can tell you it's not that? >> it's a great question, mr. turner. there's a whole lot out there that is false, and i suppose some of it could be people lying to reporters. i think that probably happens. more often than nottist people who act like they know when they really don't know. they're not the people who actually know the secrets. they're one or two hops out, and they're passing on things they think they know. there is -- we not only have no obligation to protect that, but we can't because if we start calling reporters and saying, hey, this thing you said about
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this new aircraft we've developed, that's inaccurate actually. it's got two engines. we just can't do that because we'll give information to our adversaries that way, and it's very, very frustrating, but we can't start down that road. now, when it's unclassified information, if a reporter misreports the contents of a bill that's being debated in congress or a policy, we can call them and say, hey, you ought to read it more carefully. you missed this or missed that. we cannot do that with classified information. it's very, very frustrating because i have read a whole lot of stuff, especially in the last two months, that's just wrong, but i can't say which is wrong, and i can't say it to those reporters. >> mr. comey, if you could help us on this issue, i would really appreciate it because what happens is that you come in to a classified briefing with us and you tell us perhaps what something that is absolutely false. it really shouldn't be classified because you're telling us it's not true, but yet, we can't go tell it's not true because you told us in a classified setting. is there a way that we at least can have some exchange as to
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what's not true so the american people don't listen to false stories in the washington post and the "new york times" that we all know are not true? that would be helpful. if you could think about how you could help us. >> i would love to invent that machine, but we can't because where do you stop that -- on that slope? >> well, false is false. >> then when i don't call the "new york times" and say you got that one wrong, bingo, they got that one right. it's just an enormously complicated endeavor for us. we have to stay clear of it entirely. >> one last question. we all read in the press that vice president pence publicly denied that general flynn discussed sanctions with russia, and i'm assuming that you saw those news reports. did the fbi take any action in response to the vice president's statements? >> i can't comment on that, mr. turner. mr. comey, the "new york times" reported on february 14th, 2017, that general flynn was interviewed by fbi personnel. is that correct? >> i can't comment on that, mr. turner. >> mr. comey, i do not have any
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additional questions, but i thank you both for your participation, and, again, i thank the chairman and ranking member for the bipartisan aspect of this investigation. >> gentleman yields back. dr. winstrop is recognized where. >> thank you, gentlemen, for being here. i thank your endurance in this effort today. one question, how long has russia's soviet union been attempting to interfere with our election process? >> in the report we previously talked about we have seen this kind of behavior to some degree attempting to influence outcomes for decades. >> going back to the soviet union -- >> not to the same level necessarily, but the basic trend has been there. >> so i'm curious also about what trirgs a counter intelligence investigation of a government official, and in some ways i'm asking for myself. for example, last week i spoke at an event on foreign policy with atlantic council.
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unbeknownst to me, the iraqi ambassador to the united states was there. he comes up to me afterwards and introduces himself and says he would like to meet with me at some time. this isn't a theoretical. this is real. this is why i'm asking. would i be in trouble or under investigation if i meet with him? >> this is the slope i try to avoid going down with mr. turner. i don't think i should be answering hypotheticals. the question is -- >> it's not a hypothetical because i'm asking you in advance because i want to know if i can meet with him and be under investigation or not. i don't think that's an unrealistic question. this is real. this is right now. >> the panel does not give advisory positions. if you are asking about your particular case, i can't do that. >> so you'll tell me afterwards? >> no. i'll never tell you. >> well, you might. somebody might. somebody might tell the press. right? that's where i'm going next. i want to know what can i
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discuss? what am i allowed to discuss? what triggers the investigation? it's really what we're trying to get to in general. maybe not with the iraqi ambassador, but what about with the russian ambassador. what are my only relegations? do i need to advise someone that i am meeting with them? do i have to discuss the agenda before i meet with them? you know, just so we're clear. this is really what it's coming down to. it's a lot about what we're talking about. i don't think it's unnecessary or ridiculous -- if the identity of u.s. official is disseminated to those on an as needed basis or those that need to know basis, is that generally leading to a counter intelligence investigation of that individual? in jern if a u.s. official is in this report disseminated zrks that lead to an investigation of the individual? >> not in general. not as a rule.
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no. >> next i want to go to the article from february 14th in the "new york times" which i believe we're all familiar. you may not be able to answer any of these, but the article cites four current and former american officials. do you know the identity of those four officials where. >> i'm not going to comment on an article. >> well, it's not necessarily on the article, but, okay -- do you know for a fact that the four current and former american officials provided information for this story? >> i have to give you the same answer where. >> okay. with or without an investigation going on, has anyone told you that they know who leaked the information? or who leaked any information on russian involvement in the u.s. elections or russian involvment with the trump election team? >> not going to comment on that. >> okay where, is it possible that the "new york times" misrepresented its sourcing for this february 14th article,
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possible. >> i can't comment on that. >> is it possible that the "new york times" was misled by individuals claiming to be current or former american officials. >> give you the same answer. >> can i ask why you can't comment that? >> i think a number of reasons. i'm not confirming that the information in that article is accurate or inaccurate. i'm not going to get into the business of -- we talked about it earlier. >> okay. >> is it -- let me ask you this. there are other reasons. >> i'm not also going to confirm whether we're investigatoring things. if i start talking about what i know about a particular article, i run the risks of stepping on both of those land mines where. >> because one more question before the time is up. i am curious, is it possible and nothing to do with this article -- is it possible that a so-called source to a media outlet may actually be a russian
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advocate? nothing to do with this story sf per se. just is it possible that a russian surrogate could actually be the source that the newspaper is relying on? >> in general, sure. somebody could always be pretenning to be something they're not. >> thank you. i'll yield back at this time. >> yield back. mr. schiff is recognized for 15 minutes. >> just a couple of follow-up questions, and i'll pass it to mr. quigley for -- >> mr. director -- >> can i ask you an estimated time? i'm not made of steel. i might need to take a quick break. >> would you like to do that now? >> if you can. i didn't know how much longer you planned to go. >> i think we want to keep going until members have asked all their questions. >> just a quick rest stop? >> we'll break for about ten minutes? >> that's plenty. >> all right. so this is the break. it's been going on since 10:00
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in the morning. some major headlines emerging from the house intelligence committee hearing. the fbi director james comey now confirming -- confirming that an investigation is underway. not only an investigation into the russian government efforts to interfere on the 2016 u.s. presidential election, but he goes one step further saying the investigation also includes the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts, and he then goes on to say this. he says as with any counter intelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. we've got an excellent panel to assess this. the other big headline, gloria borger, emerging is that comey
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and admiral mike rogers, the director of the national security agency also saying there is absolutely no evidence to back up president trump's allegations against president obama. that he ordered wiretapping over trump tower in new york during the campaign. these are important developments. >> important developments and bad developments for the president of the united states, i would have to say. because i think that what comey did was he confirmed the investigation, but then he refused to characterize it. he refused to say, well, it's on a scale of one to ten, it's ten being the most serious. it's that serious or it's a number one. without putting it in any kind of context, wolf, this now hangs out there over the administration like a soggy, wet tent over their heads. it's going to be very difficult for them to escape it.
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i would also have to say that the republicans today were really focussing on the so-called unmasking of people who might have been caught up in the gathering of intelligence, but may not really be involved in any i will liftelicit activi. they're concerned about the leaking of these names. we had two kinds of hearings going on. one about the leaks and the other one trying to sort of uncover what the fbi director knows and, of course, what he is willing to say, which is not much beyond what you stated. >> dana barb, the statement from the fbi director, james comey, on what the president had alleged, what, 16 days ago that president obama had personally ordered the wiretapping of trump tower in new york. he says this. he says i have no flfgs to support those tweets, and we have looked kwacarefully inside. then he adds the department of justice has asked me to share
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with you that the answer is the same for the department of justice and all its components. the department has no information that supports those tweets. we're going to be hearing momentarily from the white house press secretary sean spicer. we'll see where he goes from here, but this is an -- this is another embarrassment right now to the president that what he alleged 16 days ago, the fbi and the justice department say they have no evidence to back it up. >> incredibly we can't underscore enough how significant it is for the director of the fbi to come before the house intelligence committee which almost -- which very rarely does public hearings to begin with. but comes prepared to explicitly say that the president of the united states was wrong and that's the opinion of the fbi but also the justice department which is, you know -- there's certainly a lot of career people there, but also is a political -- run by political
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appointees by the republicans. incredibly significant. something that we expected, and he clearly felt that he had to do that. one thing i just want to point out, and i think we have the tweet because what are we talking about here? we're talking about the president starting this whole thing with a tweet back 16 days ago accusing president obama of wiretapping. while comey and rogers. >> this is something that the white house is putting out so it's a little bit confusing, but here's what you need to know. that the white house official camp is dising the fbi director while he is testifying and dissing the former president again while at the fbi director
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is testifying. it is unbelievable that this happened. i this i they're discovering what comey give it's, comey taketh away. >> he had a head of staem and now he is taking it away where. >> they're getting a taste of what brian and the hillary clinton campaign certainly had to deal with last year because you have an ongoing investigation as they did last year and there's only so much the fbi can talk about during an ongoing investigation. obviously as we said earlier today, we knew that comey was not going to be able to go to the direction of where james clapper and some other people have said which so far investigators haven't found anything to indicate that there was actual direct collusion between members in the trump campaign and russian government. they haven't found evidence of that. we reported that previously, but that doesn't mean that the investigation is over. the fbi can't answer that question because they don't know yet what they don't know. >> it's interesting, john,
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because in a statement that is very carefully crafted statement, the fbi director says the policy of the fbi and the justice department is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. especially those investigations that involve classified matters. then he says in unusual circumstances it may be -- he says this is one of those. there is an investigation of possible coordination. he prefers coordination between president trump's campaign operatives and the russian government. now, they don't send us any evidence, but they say there's an investigation of it. again, and president trump's administration, including the justice department, and his director said on the record stls zero evidence to support an
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allegation made. republicans are trying to get from that point on the former director of national intelligence, james clamber, did say on "meet the press" just a few days ago that when he left as of january 20th there was no evidence of collusion. the republicans were trying to get the people currently involved in this to say that that was still the case, and they would not. >> he will take his briefing. we'll have live coverage of that and get the official white house reaction to what we just heard,
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but pamela, you covered the justice department. were you anticipating that the fbi director would go as far as he did in confirming that there is an ongoing investigation, an investigation where crime says may have been committed? >> i certainly think he went further than a lot of us are expecting. >> associates of the trump campaign and russia is that is certainly furthered than i think a lot of us thought he would go, and he also said this investigation began late july, which gives us sort of a time frame, which is important. if you think about it, early july is when he came out and closed the investigation publicly and to hillary clinton's public -- or private e-mail before reopening the investigation in october, and then just to think shortly after
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that this investigation has opened into trump's associates and russia and it's just fascinating to see, you know, where it stands now. with the fbi to open up investigation, there has to be predication. we don't know what that is. we don't know what the fbi was basing this investigation on, but this is certainly politically not something that the trump administration -- >> i think it actually might be a little helpful for this white house, just it is worthe words chose, which we know are very carefully chosen. he said that these are people associated with the campaign, which i think lines up with what we have been reporting and what we have known. >> possibly before they became part of the campaign or people
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who were just simply associated with it. >> the only thing i'll say to that is we all remember covering the campaign. the campaign itself was very, very small. people who actually worked for the campaign that were on the trump campaign payroll was very small. trump world, trump land, and people who are associated with him is much broader. >> but i think it's important for that because you have a campaign, as you said, thafgs ve -- that was very small, but they want to keep this as far away from the president as possible. >> carissa ward is based here in london, and there's another headline that emerged very strong statement from the director of the national security agency and the fbi director that there is absolutely no truth to that speculation, that report that aired on fox news that there was -- that british intelligence had decided to go ahead and commit espionage or spy on trump tower in new york during the campaign. we heard the british government say that was nonsense. utterly ridiculous.
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admiral rogers, the director of the nsa, said he agrees with that assessment. >> and he almost seemed a little bit embarrassed as he agreed with it when he was probed as to does this hinder our relationship with vital allies like the british, like the germans, talking about also the bringing up the angela merkel hacking allegations or eavesdropping allegations? there was a real sense in that moment that he understood the importance of this five eyes coordination, intelligence sharing, and how deeply mort fewing it is for people like admiral rogers to have to sort of go to the ghcq with their kind of cap in their hands and apologize for such an outlandish accusation, which clearly in this instance, as we heard today, was not based in any fact whatsoever. >> and we never could hear these kinds of official statements from british intelligence or from the nsa, for that matter. in this particular case they both wanted to dismiss what the
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white house has cited as a report suggesting that to get around u.s. intelligence, u.s. law, if you will, the u.s. -- the obama administration asked british intelligence to do that kind of work. >> no, they wanted to put the stop to it once and for all so that we never have to have this discussion again because it's embarrassing, and it jeopardizes important relationships and important intelligence sharing agreements where. >> let's bring in rick santorum and brian fallon into this conversation. i'm anxious to get your reaction, senator, as a good republican. >> well, i mean, i can't argue -- argue that was not a good morning for donald trump and to the allegations of wiretapping. i think that has been put to bed by his own justice department of that's not a good thing for him. i would say on the russian front i think it's more of a mixed story than being put forward here. this investigation has been going on for a long time. >> since july. >> since july.
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we heard jim clapper say we have no evidence of collusion. well, if you don't have any evidence of collusion, you have obviously been looking for collusion. so we've known for a while that there has been an investigation of collusion, otherwise jim clapper couldn't say there is no evidence of collusion. he wouldn't make that assertion. none of this is really new news other than the fact that we now know for sure. i'm not sure this is as mind bending as maybe we are projecting here. the one good story is they said there is no evidence. what is all this collusion about? there has to be some end on the part of the russians. what would that enbe? the democratic party was saying for a long time they interfered with the election. they messed with the vote. well, it's clear they have now publicly said there is no evidence of vote tampering, none whatsoever. that narrative is now gone. then what is the other -- >> well, they both said, admiral rogers and the fbi director, that the russians's intention was one to try to underminus
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democracy, two, weaken hillary clinton as much as possible, and then there is a little diversion within the intelligence community, actually help donald trump get elected. >> right. the question is concretely how were they doing it? one of the narratives is they were trying to influence -- they were trying to hack in and they were trying to change the actual votes. that now has been complete bedebunked. are there other things they may have done? yes. what they were is uncertain. >> you were a former justice department official. hold on one second. sean spicer just started speaking on this. >> pursuing the facts in this. as has been previously propertied director comey confirmed that the fbi is investigating russia's role in interfering with the election. let me comment. following this testimony it's clear nothing has change. senior intelligence officials have gone on record to say there
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is no evidence of a trump/russia collusion. we take them at their word. however there was new information that came from the hearing we believe is news worthy about the intelligence gathering process and the unmasking of americans identified in intelligence reports and the illegal leak of such unmaved individuals which is a federal crime. director comey told the committee certain appointees in the obama administration had second quarter's to the names of unmasked u.s. citizens such as senior white house officials, senior department of justice officials, and senior intelligence officials. before president obama left office michael flynn was unmasked and illegally his identity was leaked out to media outlets despite the fact that as director rogers said unmasking endangers national security. not only was general flynn's identity made available director comey refused to answer the
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question whether or not he had actually briefed president obama on his phone calls and activities. director comey called these types of disclezures of classified information a threat to national security and said he will investigate and pursue these matters to the full extent of law. he also said that the leaking of classified information has become quote unusually active in the time frame in question. it's also important to note that both directors comey and rogers told the committee they have no evidence that votes were changed in the swing states the president had won. you i think that pretty much until we get the ending of this hearing, i don't know that i want to comment too much further. with that i'm glad to take a few questions. jonathan. >> does the president still have complete confidence in fbi director comey? >> there is no reason to believe he doesn't at this time. john. >> wait. >> i answered. >> he said there is no information to support the allegation has the president made against president obama. >> at the time. >> is the president prepared to
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withdraw that accusation and apologize to the president? >> no, we started a hearing. of the' still ongoing. as chairman nunes mentioned this is one of a series of hearings that will be happening. as i noted last week there is also a lot of interesting news coming out of that in terms of the activities that have gone on to reveal the information on american citizens that have been part of this, particularly general flynn. there is lot of things that aren't being covered in this hearing that i think are interesting that you know since it's ongoing i'll leave that for now but i think there is a lot of areas that still need to be covered. there is a lot of information that still needs to be discussed. >> director also said he is investigating the links and the possibility of coordination between the trump campaign and the russians. given that the president just this morning said that the democrats made up the russia story, why would the fbi director be investigating a story if it's simply -- >> i don't think that's what he said. >> he said he is vetting the
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nature of any links between any individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government and whether or not there was any coordination. >> correct. investigating and having proof are different thing. the acting cia director said there was smoke but not fire. senator tom cotton, not that i'm seeing. not that i'm aware of. clapper, not to my knowledge. a senator from delaware, i have no evidence of collusion. there is a point at which you continue to search for something that everybody who has been briefed hasn't seen or foub. i think it's fine to look into it. but at the end of the day they are going to come to the same conclusion everybody else has had. you can continue to look for something but continuing to look for something that doesn't exist doesn't matter. there is a discussion -- i heard names floated around before that were hangers onner on the campaign. i think at some point people that you know got thrown around at the beginning of this hearing, some of those names, the greatest amount of interaction that they have had
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is had cease and desist letters sent to them. >> roger stone and the carter pages? >> exactly. the carter pages, yes. but i mean those people, if greatest amount of interaction they had with the campaign was the campaign apparently sending them a series of cease and desist letters. again, i think when you read a lot of this activity about associates, there is a fine line between people who want to be part of something that they never had an official role in and people who actually played a role in either the campaign or the transition. julie. >> two questions on the hearing today. does the president now that we know there is an ongoing investigation by the fbi does the president stand by his comments that he is not aware of any contacts that his campaign associates had with russia during the election? >> yes. >> and then the second one is has anyone from the white house -- >> can i just amend the first -- >> sure. >> just to be clear, obviously general flynn, but, again. >> right, during the campaign and before the election. >> i'm not aware of any at this
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time. but even general flynn was a volunteer of the campaign. obviously there has been discussion of paul manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time. but beyond -- >> jonathan hold on. can you stop interrupting other people's questions. -- jn than, somebody is asking a question. it's not your press briefing. julie is asking a question. please calm down. julie. >> are you saying the president is aware of contacts that manafort. >> no, no, nothing that hasn't been previously discussed. i just don't want to make it look like we are not aware of. mara? >> you made a point of saying that comey refused to say whether he had briefed obama about the investigation and also the president on his official account tweeted the same thing today. comey made a point today of saying please do not draw any conclusions from my ability to
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confirm or deny thinking anything. but you are drawing a conclusion from that. >> i think we are pointing it out. i mean we are making a point that it is not known. and i think there is further -- to everyone who was looking for a conclusion today, i think there is a lot more that needs to be discussed and looked at before we can jump to a conclusion about -- hold on. i think the point is is that in the same token you have got individuals that want an answer and at the same time there is clearly a lot of information that hasn't come out or been discussed. >> you are looking forward to the investigation? >> i think there is a lot more to come is the answer that i -- >> the reason i asked is you said they are going to come to the same conclusion as everybody else. as if you already know that the conclusion -- >> no, no. what i'm getting at is this media narrative that continues the talk about collusion that exists. yet everyone who has been briefed, clapper, the obama
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appointee, have all said that nothing that they have seen makes them believe there was any collusion. i think there is a difference between talking about an investigation into 2016 election which we all know and any evidence of collusion. there is no evidence according to the people that have been briefed of my collusion or activity that leads them to believe that that economistxist. i think that is an important point that gets overlooked over and over again. >> you said it's fine to look into it but they are going to come to the same collusion that collusion doesn't exist. so you already know. >> no, no, that's not what i'm saying. what i'm saying is every single person, what the director said today is there is onion going investigation. my point is to say everybody who has been briefed on that investigation -- it doesn't -- there is an asumsz because there is an investigation it must mean it's about something. my point to you is that there is an assumption on behalf of most people in the media about what investigation must mean.
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my point to you is despite the narrative that gets played over and over again with respect to what the investigation might mean in terms of collusion, every person, republican and democrat, that has been briefed on it has come to the same conclusion, that there is no collusion and that's over. while we can talk about an investigation big picture holistically, the idea that so many people are trying to jump to a collusion conclusion seems very, very misguide. jake. >> off the tillerson briefing -- [ inaudible ] next month to be -- was that extended on that trip? do you expect that to be taking april 5th, 6, 7, 8th. >> i will try to have a read out. i know they are going to talk about what he accomplished in japan, south korea and obviously in beijing. but i'm going to let the secretary of state debrief the president before i get