Sep 30, 2020
James Comey Testimony on Russia Investigation Transcript September 30
Former FBI Director James Comey testified on the Russia investigation on September 30. Read the transcript of the full Senate hearing below.
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Senator Graham: (00:00)
… happen again. So the Horowitz report is the basis of what I’ve been trying to do. And Mr. Horowitz is the Inspector General at the Department of Justice. And he did a deep dive into the FISA warrant applications of Carter Page, and he found 17 significant errors and admissions. And the committee in his work has found some other things that were pretty disturbing. So we’ve tried to use the foundational document, the Horowitz report, and I want to thank Mr. Horowitz and his team for their thorough examination of the FISA Carter Page warrant application. They found evidence that the primary Russian sub-source was a single individual. They found interviews in January and March of the sub-source, where he basically said the dossier, which was central to getting the warrant against Carter Page, was bar talk, hearsay, and quite frankly, much worse. We found that the primary sub-source, a gentlemen named Igor, was actually suspected by the FBI being a Russian agent all the way back to 2009. And what happened here is, as a result of this information, the FISA court issued a order rebuking the FBI and Department of Justice conduct.
Senator Graham: (01:39)
And where’s that final paragraph there? This is for the FISA court. “The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the OIG, report was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above. The FISC expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the court. Without it, the FISC, the FISA court, cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there’s a sufficient factual basis.” So we’re trying to find out, as the committee of oversight of the Department of Justice and the FBI, how this happened, and to make sure it never happens again. So the basis of our inquiry started with the Horowitz report, an independent agency within the Department of Justice. And we’re going to look at the FISA rebuke and see if we can find a way to convince the court in the future that this problem has been solved very quickly.
Senator Graham: (02:44)
Carter Page was on the Trump campaign team. He was [inaudible 00:02:50] on the national security team, and here’s what we learned. If you’ve had a photo with President Trump, you’ve probably spent more time with President Trump than Carter Page. Carter Page is an interesting character. But the FBI saw a FISA warrant against Carter Page for suspected ties to Russian intelligence operatives. They were unable to get the warrant approved internally just based on contact with Russian operatives. Mr. Page denied knowing half the people, and there’s yet to be any indication that he was lying. And the other group that he was associated with were foreign intelligence operatives of Russia, but he told the FBI early on, “I was working with the CIA, that’s why I knew these people.” And the CIA confirmed to the FBI that was true. But later on, Mr. Kleinsmith doctored the information coming over from the CIA to say that Mr. Page was not working with the CIA.
Senator Graham: (03:54)
Why is that important? If the court had known that these contacts had a legitimate purpose, there’d have been no basis for the warrant. How would you like, in your case, for the government to alter a document that was exculpatory to you? And that’s what happened. And that’s a criminal act that’s going to continue to be prosecuted, I hope. But during the course between October and June of 26 … of October of 2016, and June of 2017, the dossier that was central and essential to getting the warrant had so many holes shot through it, that it became almost a joke. The point is, without the Russian Steele dossier, there would have been no warrant because they tried just based on Russian context. It wasn’t until the dossier appears on the scene that they were able to go and get a warrant.
Senator Graham: (04:52)
The dossier was prepared by a man named Christopher Steele, who was hired by Fusion GPS, that was being paid by the Democratic party and the Clinton campaign to do opposition research against candidate Trump. He had a sub-source, we didn’t know until now it was a single individual that he hired named Igor. And we now know that Igor was suspected by the FBI back to 2009 as being a Russian agent/spy, a national security threat to the United States. That’s the man that gave all the material to Mr. Steele. I will go in pretty deep detail about how the dossier, over time, not only became unraveled liable, it just lost all credibility. And the court was never told of the information that was obtained between October and June. The FBI ignored it exculpatory evidence, altered documents from the CIA, had interviews with the sub-source, disavowed the accuracy of the document, and never submitted any of that information to the court.
Senator Graham: (06:04)
This, to me, is a stunning failure of the system to work. And I will end with this, warrant applications are non-adversarial. If they’re trying to get a warrant against you or your family, there is no lawyer there to protect you. The court has to rely on the agents, the department to be honest and forthright when it comes to obtaining a warrant against an American citizen, criminally or even in the FISA arena. So here’s the question. What do we do when we find that the warrant application relied upon a document that was fundamentally unsound, that the FBI ignored all the warning signs about this document, misled the court about the author and the reliability of the document, and over and over and over again it was used to keep an investigation of an American citizen alive that we now know had 17 irregularities? What do we do?
Senator Graham: (07:12)
We just say, well, that was bad, that’s the way it goes? Does anybody get fired? Does anybody go to jail? And I’m saying this to my Democratic friends, if it happened to us, it could happen to you. Every American should be worried about this. This is not just an abuse of power against Mr. Page and the Trump campaign, this is a system failure. And you could be next. So the joint effort of this committee, in my view, should be to make sure this never happens again. Starting with finding out who did it, who’s responsible. Apparently everybody’s responsible, but nobody’s to blame is not the right answer. So my goal is that we can have a deep dive and understand how this happened, and working together to assure the American people it never happens again to any political campaign of any party. And that the FISA system can survive this very sad chapter.
Senator Graham: (08:10)
We’re turning the page on a very dangerous chapter in the history of the FISA program, we’re trying to start anew. And the only way we can start anew is to find out what happened and hold people accountable. We’re not prosecutors here. There are people out there who do have prosecutorial authority, we’ll let them decide what to do independent of us, but it is a responsibility of this committee to try to restore trust in the program that we all need. And we will start that endeavor seriously today and continue until we get to the bottom of it.
Senator Graham: (08:46)
I have two documents I’d like to introduce for the record. I have a office of an intelligence attorney’s statement. This is the DOJ lawyer that signed off on the FISA application. And the letter says, “The attorney advises that had he/she been aware of the significant errors and emissions identified by the OIG Inspector General, and the errors in the Woods process, he/she would not have signed the Carter Page FISA applications. The OI attorney further advises that he/she is not aware of any additional errors or omissions in the Page FISA applications, or in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation more generally that were not identified in the OIG report.”
Senator Graham: (09:39)
This is yet another person saying, if I know then what I know now, I wouldn’t have signed this report. Horowitz did a really good job. Rosenstein and Sally Yates said to this committee, who signed the warrant application, “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have signed this application.” This is the lawyer that prepared it saying the same thing. Thank you, Senator Feinstein.
Speaker 1: (10:03)
Senator Graham: (10:05)
Speaker 1: (10:06)
May we have copies of that document, please?
Senator Graham: (10:10)
Yes, we’ll submit it to everybody.
Speaker 1: (10:12)
Senator Graham: (10:12)
Thank you very much.
Senator Feinstein: (10:15)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We are here again today as part of the chairman’s examination of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s Russia investigation. The President has long claimed that the investigation of his campaign was a witch hunt and a hoax. Contrary to the President’s claim of a witch hunt, the Department of Justice Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, confirmed in a detailed report that the FBI was justified when it opened the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The FBI learned in July of 2016, that the Trump campaign appeared to have advance knowledge of Russia’s plans to release quote, “thousands of emails,” end quote, to harm Hillary Clinton and help Trump. The FBI learned this one week after WikiLeaks published 20,000 emails that Russia had stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s hacked computers. The DNC hack, and the possibility that the Trump campaign knew of Russia’s plans to interfere in the 2016 election by releasing stolen emails, created a significant counter intelligence concern.
Senator Feinstein: (11:41)
Mr. Comey has said that the FBI, quote, “would have been derelict not to investigate”, end quote. And I agree. Special counsel Robert Mueller assumed control of Crossfire Hurricane after Mr. Comey was fired by President Trump. Mueller’s findings confirm that the FBI was correct to investigate. Mueller found that the Russian government, quote, “perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency, and worked to secure that outcome”, end quote. And that the Trump campaign knew about welcomed and, quote, “expected it would benefit electorally from Russia’s interference”. Mueller also uncovered numerous contacts between the Trump campaign and individuals linked to Russia. For example, Mueller found that Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, gave internal polling data and campaign strategy to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence officer. The Senate intelligence committee, of which I’m a member, recently issued the bipartisan finding that Manafort was, quote, “a grave counter-intelligence threat”, end quote, because of his ties to Russian intelligence.
Senator Feinstein: (13:08)
So think about that for a moment. The President’s campaign manager had ties to Russian intelligence, and could have used them to share confidential campaign information. Mr. Chairman, of course the FBI should have investigated. Unfortunately, the President and his allies have been trying to rewrite the Russia investigation since the day it concluded. They have seized on errors in the FBI’s applications for FISA surveillance on Carter Page to assert that the entire Russian investigation was corrupt. Those errors were serious, but the errors and the so-called Steele dossier, and this is important, played no part in the broader Russia investigation. This was confirmed by Inspector General Horowitz and former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who told the committee that none of the Mueller report’s findings of criminal charges rely on the Steele dossier. None of them.
Senator Feinstein: (14:17)
President Trump and his allies also claim that the Russia investigation was a political witch hunt overseen by investigators who hated the President. But Inspector General Horowitz found no evidence that political bias impacted the Crossfire Hurricane, and none of the 10 witnesses the committee has interviewed during the chairman’s investigation provided such evidence either. We should not ignore or excuse what happened in 2016, FBI director Ray and the intelligence community have warned that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election, with the aim of denigrating Vice President Biden. We should condemn Russia’s current and past interference, not downplay it. And we should insist that the President reject Russia’s interference as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Graham: (15:22)
Thank you, Senator Feinstein. Is Mr. Comey, our technology working today? Mr. Comey? Can you put him up on the screen? [crosstalk 00:15:41].
Senator Graham: (15:43)
Mr. Comey, could you speak, please? That would [crosstalk 00:15:45]-
Mr. Comey: (15:47)
I can hear you.
Senator Graham: (15:48)
Okay, great. Thank you. Will he be on the screen?
Speaker 2: (15:58)
When he talks he’ll come up on the screen.
Senator Graham: (15:59)
Okay. Can you count to 10 for us, please?
Mr. Comey: (16:02)
Sure. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10.
Senator Graham: (16:11)
Well you did your part. There we go, 11 must’ve been the magic number. Thank you very much for being with us. Could you raise your right hand, please? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you’re about to give this committee is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. Comey: (16:29)
Senator Graham: (16:30)
Thank you. You’d like to make an opening statement? You may, if you’d like.
Mr. Comey: (16:35)
I have no opening statement, I’m ready for your questions.
Senator Graham: (16:38)
Well, one, thank you very much. And I’ll take a little more than five minutes here, but we’ll try to plow through it. Mr. Comey, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the top of the line rate, how would you rate the Crossfire Hurricane investigation in terms of being done thoroughly, by the book, an investigation the FBI should be proud of?
Mr. Comey: (17:08)
I’m not sure I can apply a number scale, but I would say in the main it was done by the book, it was appropriate, and it was essential that it be done.
Senator Graham: (17:17)
Okay. So you’re proud of it?
Mr. Comey: (17:21)
Overall, I’m proud of the work. There are parts of it that are concerning, which I’m sure we’ll talk about. But overall I’m proud of the work.
Senator Graham: (17:26)
Okay. Sounds good. Okay, when did you first learn of the existence of the Steele dossier?
Mr. Comey: (17:34)
Sometime towards the end of September of 2016.
Senator Graham: (17:38)
Okay. Do you agree with Mr. Horowitz that the dossier was central and essential to the Carter Page FISA warrant application being approved?
Mr. Comey: (17:55)
I agree that it was important. I can’t tell you whether it was essential. And by that, I mean that it wouldn’t have been granted without the Steele information.
Senator Graham: (18:03)
Let’s go through the application, there are two parts to the application. Was there an effort to get a warrant approved without using the dossier?
Mr. Comey: (18:13)
Yes. My understanding is in the summer they asked DOJ whether they would support moving forward on a warrant application.
Senator Graham: (18:19)
And they said no, right?
Mr. Comey: (18:21)
Correct. That’s my understanding from the Horowitz report.
Senator Graham: (18:24)
Then you add the dossier, all of a sudden they say yes to the warrant application. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. Comey: (18:30)
I think it’s fair to say that DOJ decided to move forward after the Steele information was part of it.
Senator Graham: (18:36)
Yes. So I would say that it was central, essential based on that. Now here’s what I’d like to ask. The contacts between Mr. Page and alleged Russian operatives are one part of the application, is that correct?
Mr. Comey: (18:52)
That’s my recollection.
Senator Graham: (18:53)
Okay. Did Mr. Page deny knowing people that you accused him of having contact with?
Mr. Comey: (19:05)
I don’t remember. I think the Horowitz report says that in the fall of 2016, speaking to an FBI source, he denied knowing certain people. But that’s about all I recall.
Senator Graham: (19:16)
Well here’s the facts. He denied knowing these people, and the FBI has yet to find any evidence that he was lying. The people that he did have contact with, did he tell the FBI that he was working for the CIA and that’s why he had contacts with these people?
Mr. Comey: (19:33)
I don’t remember.
Senator Graham: (19:36)
Do you now agree that the CIA confirmed that Mr. Page was in fact helping them?
Mr. Comey: (19:45)
I know from the Horowitz report that the CIA confirmed he was what they call a contact.
Senator Graham: (19:50)
So the FBI, in August of 2016, had information from the CIA informing the FBI that in fact Mr. Page was a resource. Did you not know that?
Mr. Comey: (20:04)
I did not know of the nature of his relationship with the CIA. What I’m telling you is what I read in the Horowitz report.
Senator Graham: (20:10)
Do you think it would have been fair for the FBI to tell the court that Mr. Page had a reason to be talking to these people because he was working with the CIA? Would that have been a fair thing to tell the court?
Mr. Comey: (20:24)
I don’t agree with your characterization of what Mr. Horowitz found. So-
Senator Graham: (20:28)
No, I’m talking about you as a director. The FBI has in its possession, in August 2016, information from the CIA confirming what Mr. Page said, that he in fact was assisting the CIA, which explained the contacts. That was never given to the court. Should they have been informed of that, because that’s exculpatory to Mr. Page?
Mr. Comey: (20:53)
I believe Mr. Horowitz found that they should have at least considered informing the court [crosstalk 00:20:56]-
Senator Graham: (20:57)
Should you? You’re the director of the FBI. Would you wish that had been done if you had known about it?
Mr. Comey: (21:04)
I’m sorry, Senator, that what had been done?
Senator Graham: (21:06)
That you had informed the court that Mr. Paige was in fact working with the CIA, and that explains these contexts. Do you think out of a sense of fairness, the court should have been informed of that fact?
Mr. Comey: (21:20)
Again, I don’t agree with your preamble. I don’t think the record established that he was working with the CIA. I think Horowitz found he was a contact, which means [crosstalk 00:21:28]-
Senator Graham: (21:29)
We’ve got your email from the CIA confirming that he was a source for the CIA. Are you aware of the fact that email later on was doctored?
Mr. Comey: (21:43)
Again, I don’t accept what you said. I don’t think the record establishes he was a source for the CIA. I am aware from [crosstalk 00:21:48]-
Senator Graham: (21:49)
Why is Mr. Kleinsmith facing criminal indictment?
Mr. Comey: (21:54)
I only know what I’ve read in the public record, that he was accused of changing [crosstalk 00:21:57]-
Senator Graham: (21:58)
You’re the director of the FBI, you didn’t know that your own agency had information from the CIA verifying what Mr. Page told you, that these contacts had a basis, in fact, because he was working with the CIA. Did you know that Mr. Kleinsmith doctored the email for it to read that there was no association between Page and the CIA? That he changed, “there was”, to “there was not”, how do you feel about that?
Mr. Comey: (22:28)
I know nothing about Mr. Kleinsmith, only what I’ve read in the [crosstalk 00:22:32]-
Senator Graham: (22:33)
Well how do you feel in general about an FBI lawyer doctoring information exculpatory to somebody being surveilled?
Mr. Comey: (22:41)
Any false statement in the course of an investigation is deeply [crosstalk 00:22:44]-
Senator Graham: (22:44)
But you didn’t know anything about that? Okay. In October, when the warrant was submitted, the application was submitted, what effort had been made to verify the dossier in October?
Mr. Comey: (23:00)
I don’t know specifically. I know the counterintelligence division was working to see how much of it they could rule in and rule out.
Senator Graham: (23:06)
How much time did they spend ruling in and ruling out, regarding the dossier? In October.
Mr. Comey: (23:13)
I do not-
Senator Graham: (23:14)
You don’t know?
Mr. Comey: (23:14)
Senator Graham: (23:15)
You signed the application. Whose job is it to make sure the facts are right when you present them to the FISA court?
Mr. Comey: (23:23)
Well, the most basic level, the affiant, whoever is signing the affidavit [crosstalk 00:23:28]-
Senator Graham: (23:28)
Did you sign the affidavit?
Mr. Comey: (23:30)
No. I signed a certification which is required of the FBI director.
Senator Graham: (23:34)
Okay. Does the FBI director have any responsibility to make sure the facts are right when they’re given to the court?
Mr. Comey: (23:42)
Not in connection with the certification. But in general, the FBI director is responsible for everything that’s being done underneath the FBI director.
Senator Graham: (23:48)
What we’re trying to find is who provided the application to the FISA court, and why was it so flawed? Can you give me a group of people we can look at to hold accountable for misleading the court? Who should we be looking at?
Mr. Comey: (24:05)
To understand the process, in general and in this case, you would start with the Horowitz report, where he recounts all the many people involved in the review, production, and delivery to the court of this application.
Senator Graham: (24:17)
But you don’t know, as the director of the FBI, who actually prepared the applications, is that correct?
Mr. Comey: (24:24)
I do not.
Senator Graham: (24:24)
Okay. All right. So in October, it’s clear Mr. Comey, there was no effort to verify the dossier before it was given to the court. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Comey: (24:35)
I don’t know the answer to that.
Senator Graham: (24:37)
Well, that’s the answer. And in January of 12th, 2017, the warrant application was renewed. Did you sign that?
Mr. Comey: (24:55)
I signed a certification in connection with two [crosstalk 00:24:58]-
Senator Graham: (24:59)
Mr. Comey: (24:59)
One in January and one three months later.
Senator Graham: (25:02)
Are you aware of the fact between October and January the FBI had found that the Russian sub-source was on the payroll of Mr. Steele, was suspected of being a Russian spy by the FBI all the way back to 2009?
Mr. Comey: (25:23)
I don’t remember learning anything additional about Steele’s sources between the [crosstalk 00:25:26]-
Senator Graham: (25:28)
How can it be, Mr. Director, that the FBI finds in its file that the man that prepared the dossier for Steele was suspected of being a threat to national security, and it doesn’t make it up to you?
Mr. Comey: (25:39)
I don’t know, I could speculate. But I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to [crosstalk 00:25:45]-
Senator Graham: (25:42)
Well I don’t want you to speculate, we’ll try to figure this all out ourselves. Do you know who Christopher Steele was? When did you find out who he was?
Mr. Comey: (25:55)
When the Steele dossier was briefed to me sometime, like I said, I think late September.
Senator Graham: (26:01)
Were you ever told that he hated Trump and he wanted him to lose, and he very much down on Donald Trump as a person?
Mr. Comey: (26:09)
Not that I recall, no.
Senator Graham: (26:11)
You don’t remember Bruce Orr briefing the team about Steele’s biases that you have to really watch this guy?
Mr. Comey: (26:18)
I don’t remember Bruce Orr ever briefing me.
Senator Graham: (26:21)
Do you remember friendly foreign governments putting us on notice that he tends to exaggerate and goes off on crusades? Did that make it to you?
Mr. Comey: (26:32)
I don’t recall that.
Senator Graham: (26:32)
Okay. Thank you. All right. So, should the court had been informed, in a perfect world, that the primary sub-source was a suspected Russian spy?
Mr. Comey: (26:48)
At a minimum, they should be, team of the FBI and justice should have discussed whether to inform the court about that.
Senator Graham: (26:54)
Were you aware that in December 2016, the CIA tells the FBI they characterize the dossier as internet rumor?
Mr. Comey: (27:06)
I don’t recall being informed of that.
Senator Graham: (27:08)
Were you ever told by the CIA to be careful with the dossier and Steele, that this is not good craft here?
Mr. Comey: (27:19)
I don’t remember ever being told anything like that.
Senator Graham: (27:21)
Okay. All right. So let’s fast forward now. The warrant application is renewed in April 2017. You sign it in January the 12th. You didn’t know that the primary sub-source was suspected by the FBI of being a Russian spy all the way back to 2009. You didn’t know that the CIA had told the FBI the document’s internet rumor. Are you aware of the fact that the sub-source was actually interviewed by the FBI in January 2017?
Mr. Comey: (27:57)
I don’t remember anything about interviews of the sub-source.
Senator Graham: (28:04)
So as the director, was this an important case for the FBI, or is this kind of a run of the mill thing?
Mr. Comey: (28:12)
The overarching investigation was very important. The Page slice of it, far less given [crosstalk 00:28:17]-
Senator Graham: (28:17)
Well, I mean, you have a sitting President of the United States by January 2017. You have a dossier that’s salacious as hell, that accuses the President of being involved in all kinds of sex escapades in Russia, and a bunch of other stuff. And you keep using that document over and over again to get a warrant. And here’s my question. Every time you found information to put the reliability of the dossier in question, everybody seemed to ignore it and just plowed forward. So I want to know in January, you’re not aware of the fact that the FBI interviewed the primary sub-source, is that your testimony?
Mr. Comey: (28:56)
I do not remember being told about any interview of [crosstalk 00:29:00]-
Senator Graham: (29:00)
Should you have been told about it?
Mr. Comey: (29:03)
I can’t answer that, because I wasn’t. And so I don’t know what the considerations were [crosstalk 00:29:07]-
Senator Graham: (29:08)
Well here’s what happened. The primary sub-source told the FBI in January 2017, after the dossier had been used twice to get a warrant, that the sub-source has no idea where some of the language attributed to him came from. That the contacts never mentioned some of the information attributed to him. And that he did not know the origins of other information that was supposedly from his contacts. He said, “The statements were word of mouth and hearsay, conversations had with friends over beers. And were statements made in jest that should be taken with a grain of salt.” Did any of that ever get to you?
Mr. Comey: (29:47)
Not that I recall. No.
Senator Graham: (29:50)
Do you agree that’s pretty important information concerning the reliability of that dossier?
Mr. Comey: (29:57)
It’s information that should be weighed in light of a variety of circumstances.
Senator Graham: (30:01)
It’s inherently exculpatory. The person who put the document together is telling the FBI it’s bar talk, it’s grain of salt. They tell the FBI, and they keep using the same document. You know how they describe to the court the sub-source? You know what they told the sub-source in the application … the court about the sub-source? That he was truthful and cooperative. Do you think those terms to the court, truthful and cooperative, fairly reflect the interview the FBI conducted in January and March?
Mr. Comey: (30:36)
I know the Inspector General found the disclosure was inadequate in that regard.
Senator Graham: (30:41)
Not only, Mr. Comey, is it inadequate, it is criminally inadequate. You have a document central to getting a warrant against an American citizen. It is falling apart. The CIA says it’s internet rumor. The person who prepared it was on a jihad against Trump, on the payroll of Democratic party. The primary sub-source was a Russian agent. When that person was interviewed by the FBI, he disavowed the reliability of the document to the point that it should never have been used again. And my question is, how could the system ignore all that? And how could it be used again in April and again in June? Do you know how that’s possible?
Mr. Comey: (31:20)
Again, I’m not going to respond to your preamble. I think Mr. Horowitz found that it was not disclosed … that a variety of facts were not disclosed. He didn’t find intentional misconduct, but he found concerning failures to disclose.
Senator Graham: (31:34)
All I can say, is there a duty by the FBI to inform the court of exculpatory information?
Mr. Comey: (31:42)
There is a heightened duty of candor which includes exculpatory information and anything that might be relevant to the court’s consideration.
Senator Graham: (31:48)
Do you think it’s exculpatory for Mr. Page, for the court to know that when he said the people he met with was a result of him being associated, working with the CIA, do you think that would have been beneficial to Mr. Page?
Mr. Comey: (32:01)
Again, because I don’t agree with your predicate-
Senator Graham: (32:03)
… to Mr. Page?
Mr. Comey: (32:03)
Again, because I don’t agree with your predicate to the question, I can’t answer that.
Senator Graham: (32:05)
Well, we got emails and I’d be glad to show them to you about the association between the CIA and Mr. Page. Do you think it would be only fair for the court to be told that the primary sub-source disavowed the document as being rumor, bar talk, you can take half of it with a grain of salt? Do you think the FBI owed it to the court and Mr. Page to tell the court about these stunning revelations?
Mr. Comey: (32:30)
I think Mr. Horowitz found, and it seems a reasonable conclusion, that they should have informed-
Senator Graham: (32:34)
How could the director of the FBI not know all of this? How is it possible that the system gathers so much exculpatory information? It’s an internet rumor according to the CIA that the actual interview of the sub-source disavows the reliability of the document, that the actual sub-source was a suspected Russian spy. How could all that happen and not get up to you, the director of the FBI, of one of the most important investigations in the history of the FBI? How is that possible?
Mr. Comey: (33:06)
I can only speculate because it didn’t, and as I said, the investigation overall was incredibly important. The piece you’re focused on is obviously important, but a much smaller slice of the whole.
Senator Graham: (33:15)
Well, it’s very important to Mr. Page. It should be important to every American. Is there anybody there advocating for Mr. Page during the warrant process?
Mr. Comey: (33:26)
No, it’s an ex parte application, meaning there’s only one side represented.
Senator Graham: (33:29)
I just want to understand this, it’s an ex parte event. It means that the cops have a duty to tell the court when they find things beneficial to the person under investigation. Over and over again, between October and June, all the information found about the dossier made it less reliable, not more reliable and you kept using again and again and again. The question, was there bias? At what point in time do you put two and two together that the people behind this hated Trump and the reason they ran all these stop signs and didn’t want to take no for an answer? Do you recall getting an inquiry from the CI, excuse me, the intelligence community in September, 2016, about a concern that the Clinton campaign was going to create a scandal regarding Trump and Russia?
Mr. Comey: (34:23)
I do not.
Senator Graham: (34:25)
You don’t remember getting a investigatory lead from the intelligence community, hang on a second … Let me find my document here.
Speaker 3: (34:41)
There it is.
Senator Graham: (34:47)
September the Seventh, 2016, the US intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey and Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok regarding US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server. You don’t remember getting that or being talk, that doesn’t …
Mr. Comey: (35:22)
That doesn’t ring any bells with me.
Senator Graham: (35:24)
Senator Graham: (35:24)
Well, that’s a pretty stunning thing, it didn’t ring a bell, but it did come to you. Let’s just end with this, you get this inquiry from the intelligence committee to look at the Clinton campaign basically trying to create a distraction, accusing Trump of being a Russian agent or a Russian stooge or whatever to distract from her email server problems, and how far-fetched is that, Mr. Comey, when we now know that the Democratic Party through Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a foreign agent who had a very strong bias against Trump who hired a Russian sub-source who the FBI believed to be a Russian spy to compile a dossier that was a bunch of crap to be used against an American citizen working for the Trump campaign? You already knew that. Seems to me, you’d want to investigate other allegations, but you’re telling me that you don’t recall this.
Mr. Comey: (36:24)
I’m sorry, Senator, is there a question?
Senator Graham: (36:25)
Yes. You don’t recall this inquiry I just read about September 2016?
Mr. Comey: (36:36)
No, as I said it doesn’t [inaudible 00:36:32]. It doesn’t sound familiar.
Senator Graham: (36:37)
Do you remember being told by the intelligence community, remember the episode with Trump in the hotel?
Mr. Comey: (36:51)
Senator Graham: (36:52)
With the hookers in the dossier?
Mr. Comey: (36:56)
Yes, I remember that portion of the Steele-
Senator Graham: (36:58)
Okay. That was pretty hard to ignore.
Mr. Comey: (36:59)
[crosstalk 00:05: 01].
Senator Graham: (37:01)
Do you remember in December the Intelligence Committee basically said a US intelligence community report contained information about the falsity of the details of Trump’s sexual activity in Moscow and assess that they were the product of Russian intelligence services infiltrating a source into Steele’s network? This is from the Horowitz report. In other words, the intelligence community had assessed that the dossier’s description of a sexual escapade was actually a Russian disinformation campaign. Did you know that when it came out?
Mr. Comey: (37:54)
I’m not familiar with what you’re reading from. I don’t know whether the incident-
Senator Graham: (37:57)
It’s in the Horowitz report. I guess what I’m saying is that the Horowitz report has information they had in the file that the whole scenario with Trump and the sexual escapade was Russian disinformation, and you knew that and you never told the court. To me, that is something that the court should know. If in fact the Russians had infiltrated Steele’s sources to create this myth about sexual misconduct of the president, that to me seems to cry out for slowing down and stopping, not keep using the document.
Senator Graham: (38:37)
All I can say is that you’ve believed it would be a dereliction of duty not to look at Trump, Russia. I’m not here to argue that nobody should look. I’m not here to argue that it was somebody other than the Russians who hacked into the DNC. It was the Russians. What I’m here to say is there were ample evidence of the other side being involved with Russia to create a scandal around Trump. They hired a foreign agent on the payroll of the Democratic Party who hired a Russian spy to create a document that was absolutely full of misinformation and complete lies.
Senator Graham: (39:20)
Did you know, there is no Russian consulate in Miami and the dossier mentions that there was one? Shouldn’t the court have been told that part of the dossier is not reliable?
Senator Graham: (39:31)
Do you also know that Michael Cohen’s adventures in Prague never happened? The dossier asserts that Michael Cohen went to Prague on some venture for Trump and Russia and it never happened, and they know it never happened. They had information from a foreign government saying it’s not true and they never told the court.
Senator Graham: (39:53)
They never corrected all the misinformation in the dossier. It was used over and over again and they never told the court about how unreliable it was. Is that a small thing or a big thing?
Mr. Comey: (40:07)
Anytime there are material omissions in an application to a judge of any kind, but especially in an ex parte proceeding, it’s a very important issue.
Senator Graham: (40:16)
Did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton in Russia?
Mr. Comey: (40:23)
I don’t know what you mean.
Senator Graham: (40:24)
Well, you say you had a duty to look at allegations about the Trump campaign being involved with the Russians. You’ve got a letter now from Radcliffe saying that there was a, they intercepted information about an effort in July where Hillary Clinton approved an effort to link Trump to Russia or the mob. Did you have an investigation look and see if whether that was true?
Mr. Comey: (40:45)
I can’t answer that. I’ve read Mr. Radcliffe’s letter, which frankly I have trouble understanding.
Senator Graham: (40:49)
Okay. Thank you very much. [inaudible 00:40:57]
Senator Feinstein: (40:58)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Graham: (41:00)
Senator Feinstein: (41:03)
The president and his allies argue that the FBI should never have investigated the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. However, Special Counsel Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee found that the Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, gave internal polling data and campaign strategy to a Russian intelligence officer. The Senate Intelligence Committee issued the bipartisan finding that Manafort was a grave counterintelligence threat. I’d like to put in the record this report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Graham: (41:42)
Senator Feinstein: (41:45)
Thank you very much.
Senator Feinstein: (41:49)
Would you agree that a direct tie between a presidential campaign manager and a Russian intelligence officer is a grave counterintelligence threat?
Mr. Comey: (42:00)
Senator Feinstein: (42:02)
Could you tell us why, please?
Mr. Comey: (42:05)
Because someone who’s occupying a role in the heart of American democracy running a campaign is in a position to supply information about that campaign and the workings of our democracy to a foreign adversary, that’s the definition of a counterintelligence threat.
Senator Feinstein: (42:23)
You would agree that this type of counterintelligence threat does warrant investigation?
Mr. Comey: (42:30)
Yes, of course.
Senator Feinstein: (42:31)
The Senate Intelligence Committee determined that Manafort’s presence on the campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over and acquire confidential information on the Trump campaign. Does the possibility that Russian intelligence services are exerting influence over a presidential campaign create a counterintelligence risk that warrants investigation?
Mr. Comey: (43:02)
Yes, as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found last month.
Senator Feinstein: (43:06)
Correct. Thank you.
Senator Feinstein: (43:07)
Special Counsel Mueller found that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, pursued the Trump Tower-Moscow project on Trump’s behalf during the campaign. Is there a counterintelligence concern when a candidate for political office pursues a lucrative business deal in Russia at the same time he publicly claims to have zero interest in Russia?
Mr. Comey: (43:35)
Yes, because of the ability that offers the foreign adversary to have leverage over that individual.
Senator Feinstein: (43:40)
Correct. Does this type of counterintelligence concern warrant investigation?
Mr. Comey: (43:47)
It may, depending on what facts you have to predicate the investigation.
Senator Feinstein: (43:51)
Thank you. You told the inspector general that you received no requests from the Obama/Biden White House to investigate members of the Trump campaign. You’ve also said that if President Obama or a member of his administration asked the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign, your answer would be not only no, but hell no. Did President Obama or Vice President Biden ever ask you to investigate a political rival or to go easy on a political rival?
Mr. Comey: (44:31)
Senator Feinstein: (44:32)
Why would that have been problematic?
Mr. Comey: (44:36)
It would compromise the independence of the Justice Department and the FBI’s work. If it’s a criminal case or a counterintelligence case, it would introduce politics into what should be a fact-driven process.
Senator Feinstein: (44:48)
Senator Feinstein: (44:49)
US intelligence has assessed that, “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden,” end quote, and quote, “Boost President Trump’s candidacy,” end quote. FBI Director Wray has said that Russia’s anti-Biden efforts have been very active. President Trump has said that he would take damaging information on a political opponent from a foreign adversary and that he would not commit to informing the FBI. He publicly asked China to investigate Joe Biden and was impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden as well. Are you concerned that Trump will embrace and use Russian interference efforts to his advantage, excuse me, as he did in 2016?
Mr. Comey: (45:44)
Well, I’m a private citizen now, so as a private citizen, yes. And he said that he would.
Senator Feinstein: (45:51)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Graham: (45:57)
Thank you. Senator Grassley.
Charles Grassley: (45:59)
Yeah. Thank you for your appearance here.
Charles Grassley: (46:03)
On January the Sixth, 2017, the Obama administration issued its intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in recent elections. That assessment included Annex A, which said that the FBI had identified and unidentified sources relating to the Steele reporting and Russia investigation. Prior to that in December, 2016, the FBI had identified Steele’s primary sub-source and knew that he was a subject of counterintelligence investigation. You either knew, or should’ve known, that the primary sub-source was subject to counterintelligence investigation when you made efforts to include the Steele dossier in the assessment. Did you make any effort to ensure that Annex A identified that some sourcing may have been from a suspected Russian spy or otherwise unsubstantiated? If not, why not?
Mr. Comey: (47:17)
I don’t remember any information reaching me about any investigation of the source of Steele’s. I know now from the public record there was some investigation back in 2009 that can cut both ways, so I don’t know how the people working on the investigation thought about it.
Charles Grassley: (47:33)
Okay. The primary sub-source was a suspected Russian spy. The sub-source disavowed elements relating to the dossier. He was subject to a counterintelligence investigation and offered people money for classified information. Shouldn’t you have investigated the primary sub-source instead of Trump, Page, Flynn, Papadopoulos, and whatever else?
Mr. Comey: (48:07)
I’m not able to answer that question because I don’t know the details of the investigation back in 2009.
Charles Grassley: (48:12)
Okay. Thanks to declassified footnotes from the inspector general, we know the following: One, the FBI knew the Russians had the intent to target Steele. Two, we see that they had the opportunity to do so by various contacts Steele had with Russian intelligence assets. Three, we see the success of those efforts because some Russian disinformation made its way into the Steele dossier. It looks like both the Democratic National Committee and Russian intelligence services manipulated the FBI under your watch. How could the world’s premier law enforcement agency miss all of these signs?
Mr. Comey: (49:04)
I’m sorry, Senator, I disagree with a lot of aspects of your preamble, so I can’t answer that one.
Charles Grassley: (49:11)
Well, it sounds to me like you should have known and it pretty much speaks for itself that maybe you aren’t on top of things the way you should have been.
Charles Grassley: (49:24)
Question number four: On February 14th, 2017, you met with the president and he allegedly asked you to let Flynn’s case go. In any of your meetings with President Trump, did you inform him that the Flynn case was supposed to be closed on January the Fourth, 2017? If not, why not?
Mr. Comey: (49:50)
I don’t think I had any conversation with President Trump about Flynn’s case except for that February 14th, “Let it go” conversation.
Charles Grassley: (49:58)
Well, if you had that conversation, then couldn’t you have informed him that the Flynn case was supposed to be closed on January Fourth, 2017?
Mr. Comey: (50:14)
I don’t know why that would be a relevant fact for any conversation about Flynn lying to the FBI.
Charles Grassley: (50:22)
On January 12th, 2017, email to James Clapper, you stated that quote, ” We have concluded that the source, Crown, is reliable.” On January the 12th, 2017, the FBI received a report outlining inaccuracies related to Steele’s reporting about Michael Cohen. The report also assessed that the information was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. That same day you signed a FISA renewal. The FBI received another report on February 27th, 2017, that also stated parts of the dossier were false and subject to Russian disinformation. You signed another FISA renewal on April 5th, 2017.
Charles Grassley: (51:16)
Steele is clearly not a reliable source. Why did you say otherwise? Why did you approve the FISA application in light of the evidence?
Mr. Comey: (51:27)
What I said about Mr. Steele that you read at the beginning of your preamble was what I believed based on what I had been told. The rest of the reports you’ve listed, I don’t remember learning about them or being told about them, so I can’t comment on whether they’re accurate or not.
Charles Grassley: (51:41)
Did you ever speak with President Obama or Vice President Biden about any aspect of Crossfire Hurricane? If so, what did you discuss?
Mr. Comey: (51:53)
I don’t remember any discussion. I remember sometime in the summer of 2016, I think August, during a meeting in the Situation Room, I told the president that the FBI was endeavoring to understand whether any Americans were working or associated with the Russian effort to attack the election. I didn’t talk about any names, but I believe I alerted him to the general nature of the work.
Charles Grassley: (52:16)
Did you ever speak with President Obama or Vice President Biden about any aspect of the Flynn case? If so, what did you discuss?
Mr. Comey: (52:27)
I remember the Flynn investigation coming up once, I think it was January the Fifth, when President Obama held me back to urge me to do the case in the normal way and to let him know if there was any reason that he should not be sharing sensitive information about Russia with the Trump transition. I assured him that I would keep him informed and I would conduct the investigation in that way.
Charles Grassley: (52:52)
During the January Fifth, 2017 meeting between you President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sally Yates, and Susan Rice, did you mention that Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador appear quote, unquote, “Appear legit?”
Mr. Comey: (53:10)
I don’t remember using that word. If I used it, I would have meant authentic and not fabricated. I wouldn’t have meant appropriate, but I don’t remember using that word.
Charles Grassley: (53:18)
Okay. My times up.
Senator Graham: (53:21)
Senator Leahy, I think by remote.
Patrick Leahy: (53:23)
Mr. Chairman, are we coming through at the hearing?
Senator Graham: (53:28)
Patrick Leahy: (53:30)
Okay. Well, Mr. Chairman, I’m afraid listening to this from the beginning that it seems more like a political errand for President Trump’s re-election effort, and perhaps for some others on the committee. I think it’s offensive to all Americans who pay taxes, I realize the president does not. But the Senator apparently has no time to address the deadly COVID pandemic that’s surging again, has taken more than 200,000 American lives. Instead, it seems, Mr. Chairman, your party, Republicans, are obsessed with two priorities: First, a mad rush to confirm a Supreme Court nominee on the eve of a presidential election, just a few days before the Supreme Court will consider the Republican lawsuit to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare. And then, of course, to once again investigate the investigators who are charged with responding to Russia’s brazen attack on our 2016 elections and then-candidate Trump’s real brazen embrace of that attack. I’ve always thought of this as the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I’ve appreciated my 40 years on it, but I have never thought of it as either the Trump re-election committee or any other re-election committee. We shouldn’t be debasing ourselves this way.
Patrick Leahy: (55:05)
Now, Director Comey, you and I have known each other for a long time. You’ve served our country through both Republican and Democratic administrations. I expressed to you some of my strong disagreements with decisions you made as FBI director, but I also recognized you were placed in a truly unprecedented situation. I have never questioned your integrity or your loyalty to the law and to the country.
Patrick Leahy: (55:34)
Now, whether Vladimir Putin is interfering in our elections or paying bounties to kill our troops or brazenly poisoning dissidents, it seems President Trump is incapable of publicly criticizing him. The Mueller investigation ultimately decided not to look into any financial relationships between the president and Russia, despite some on the team who believed that it would be relevant to their central investigation. We now know that President Trump owes more than 400 million dollars in debt to largely unknown sources. In 2014, the president’s son said the Trump organization did not rely on American banks for financing. He said they received all the funding we need out of Russia. Now that was a Trump statement, and not anybody else’s.
Patrick Leahy: (56:31)
Now, you stated that you think it’s possible the Russians have something over the president. Why do you believe that this is a possibility? Have you ever felt this way about an American president?
Mr. Comey: (56:46)
I’ve never felt that way about American president. I don’t know whether the Russians have something over President Trump, but it’s difficult to explain his conduct, his statements in any other way, especially his refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin even in public, and so it raises a significant question. Obviously the question has only deepened by disclosure, if it’s true, of significant indebtedness.
Patrick Leahy: (57:10)
Good enough to raise suspicions in your mind based on your experience. Thank you.
Patrick Leahy: (57:19)
Now yesterday, reportedly over the objections of career officials, the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, declassified and released unverified Russian intelligence, likely disinformation, about former Secretary Clinton. The information was rejected by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. Mr. Ratcliffe has refused to testify in public about our own intelligence agencies’ assessment of global threats to the United States [inaudible 00:00:57:52]. Are you concerned, Mr. Comey, that intelligence leaders, handpicked for their partisan loyalties, are weaponizing intelligence by selectively releasing foreign disinformation and withholding credible US intelligence assessments?
Mr. Comey: (58:13)
I don’t understand Mr. Ratcliffe’s letter well enough to comment. It’s confusing. It contains within it a statement I think that is unverified information, so I really don’t know what he’s doing.
Patrick Leahy: (58:28)
I see so many of my colleagues on the other side trying to de-legitimize the investigation to Russia’s documented interference in our 2016 election. We know from our own reporting that Russia is again trying to interfere in our 2020 election. Just this month, FBI Director Wray testified that Russia’s very active in its efforts to influence and undermine the 2020 elections. If you had to convey one message the American people about the persistent threat of Russian interference in our democracy, or any foreign interference, what would it be?
Mr. Comey: (59:07)
Know that a nation that does not have America’s best interest at heart wants to re-elect Donald Trump. Let that sink in. Let it guide how you think about the way we ought to conduct ourselves going forward.
Patrick Leahy: (59:20)
Thank you, I have a similar feeling.
Patrick Leahy: (59:24)
[inaudible 00:59:24] the former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s lawyer was pressed by a judge about her communications with the Justice Department and the White House. After initially trying and failing to claim executive privilege and after making the argument for months that Flynn was not receiving special treatment, she revealed that she has directly talked to President Trump about the case, has asked him not to pardon Flynn. [inaudible 00:27:54], she also revealed that she talked to a Trump campaign lawyer about the issue as well, as in part of the Trump re-election effort. Now you once supervised this investigation, what does the disclosure mean for how the Trump administration criticizes its official law enforcement responsibilities?
Mr. Comey: (01:00:19)
Well, again, I’ve watched this as a private citizen, read the pleadings in the court case involving former national security advisor Flynn, and I think the department’s conduct in handling it is deeply concerning, best summarized by the retired federal judge who briefed the issue for Judge Sullivan in the District of Columbia district court. It’s deeply concerning because this guy’s getting treated in a way that nobody’s ever been treated before.
Patrick Leahy: (01:00:45)
Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, after hearing the other questions during this hearing, I may have some questions for the record.
Senator Graham: (01:00:56)
Absolutely, Senator Leahy. Senator Cornyn.
John Cornyn: (01:00:59)
Director Comey, is it appropriate for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to influence a presidential election?
Mr. Comey: (01:01:10)
No. The FBI should do everything you can to avoid having any impact on the election of any kind, including a presidential election.
John Cornyn: (01:01:17)
Are you aware of the allegation against you that your handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, your press conference on July the Fifth, your subsequent announcement that based on Anthony Wiener’s laptop information that you were reopening that investigation in the run-up to the election, are you aware of the allegation that you were responsible for Hillary Clinton’s defeat?
Mr. Comey: (01:01:41)
Yes, I’m aware of that allegation.
John Cornyn: (01:01:46)
Does that concern you?
Mr. Comey: (01:01:49)
It concerns me whenever anyone has questions about whether the FBI is conducting itself in a competent, honest, independent way.
John Cornyn: (01:01:57)
Did you call the Steele dossier salacious and unverified?
Mr. Comey: (01:02:03)
I called the portion of it that related to alleged sexual activity, I think that’s the term I use to describe that.
John Cornyn: (01:02:09)
You did not refer to it as unverified?
Mr. Comey: (01:02:14)
I think the term salacious and unverified, again it’s not all that important, but I think I reserve that for the sex part of it. The entire dossier was something we were trying to see if we could rule in, rule out. The entire thing as to the FBI was un- reviewed when it came in the door and there was an effort to see what was true and wasn’t true.
John Cornyn: (01:02:36)
Short of Inspector Horowitz’s report, are you aware any verification of the Steele dossier by the FBI?
Mr. Comey: (01:02:49)
Sorry, Senator, I’m not tracking the question. I apologize.
John Cornyn: (01:02:54)
We got a comprehensive report from Inspector General Horowitz on the Steele dossier, but before the inspector general’s report on the dossier, which tells us a lot about what we know now that we didn’t know then. Did you know that the information that was reported by Inspector Horowitz that should have raised questions about the reliability of the Steele dossier?
Mr. Comey: (01:03:23)
Oh, I see. I’m sorry. Yeah, I learned a lot about the Steele material and the sub-source interviews from the Horowitz report that I didn’t know before then.
John Cornyn: (01:03:36)
Can you rule out the possibility that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was predicated in part on Russian disinformation?
Mr. Comey: (01:03:49)
I think so. I think both your colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Mueller report and the inspector general found that it was predicated based on credible information from a friendly foreign nation’s ambassador.
John Cornyn: (01:04:02)
You’re saying even though we-
Mr. Comey: (01:04:03)
A friendly foreign nations ambassador.
John Cornyn: (01:04:03)
So you’re saying, even though we know now that the sub-source for the Steele investigation, for the Steele dossier was a Russian agent, that doesn’t in your view taint any of the basis for that investigation?
Mr. Comey: (01:04:19)
First, I think I don’t agree with your predication with respect to the FBI’s investigation of the sub-source, but the investigation wasn’t open based on anything from Steele. It was open based on information from an allied ambassador about something that Trump foreign policy advisers said in London about the Russian offer to the campaign of dirt on Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t until two months later that the Steele material came to the team.
John Cornyn: (01:04:43)
The Steele dossier was used to secure a FISA warrant, correct?
Mr. Comey: (01:04:49)
John Cornyn: (01:04:51)
Back in January after the election, the intelligence community submitted a report intelligence community assessment. Do you recall that?
Mr. Comey: (01:05:02)
I do. The [inaudible 01:05:03] from January 6th, I think, or 5th, of-
John Cornyn: (01:05:08)
I think that’s right. Do you recall a discussion between you and the CIA about whether the Steele dossier should be included as part of the intelligence community assessment?
Mr. Comey: (01:05:22)
I remember some interaction with my fellow leaders of the intelligence community agencies that were part of that assessment. I don’t know whether it was over email or on the phone about how that we were contributing this material to the effort and how they were going to approach it.
John Cornyn: (01:05:37)
You don’t recall that Director Brennan said it should not be included as part of the ICA because it has not been verified?
Mr. Comey: (01:05:47)
I don’t know whether it was Brennan. I remember being told that the group’s view was it was significant enough and consistent enough with other intelligence that it ought to be included, but it wasn’t sufficiently corroborated to be in the body of the intelligence community assessment. So they put a brief summary of it in an annex.
John Cornyn: (01:06:11)
Mr. Comey, you’re aware that when we try to reauthorize laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is essential to our ability to protect the national security of the United States, there are members of this body and people on the outside, who question whether Congress should have that authority, the intelligence community should have that authority, because they think those tools will be abused. Are you familiar generally with that?
Mr. Comey: (01:06:42)
Yes. I’ve participated in those reauthorization debates throughout a lot of my career.
John Cornyn: (01:06:47)
I know you have. Does it concern you at all as a former leader in the intelligence community, as Director of the FBI, that the questions that have up as a result of the Horowitz Inspector General report, the information we know now about the flaws in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including the use of the Steele dossier, the inclusion of less than complete and accurate information by an FBI attorney as part of the predicate for that, does it concern you that the questions that have been raised here will make it harder, perhaps even impossible for Congress to come together and reauthorize important tools like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?
Mr. Comey: (01:07:40)
Yes, and it concerns me even more that the Inspector General found mistakes in every FISA application that he reviewed well beyond the particular case we’ve been talking about. So yes, it concerns me.
Senator Graham: (01:07:57)
Mr. Durbin: (01:07:59)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Comey. Mr. Comey, is personal debt and important consideration when an individual is seeking a security clearance?
Mr. Comey: (01:08:10)
Mr. Durbin: (01:08:11)
Mr. Comey: (01:08:13)
Because a person’s financial situation could make them vulnerable to coercion by an adversary and allow an adversary to do what we try to do to foreign government officials we find are indebted, and that is recruit them to our side. [crosstalk 00:04:27].
Mr. Durbin: (01:08:29)
Go ahead. I’m sorry.
Mr. Comey: (01:08:30)
So it’s a serious issue in any background review.
Mr. Durbin: (01:08:32)
So someone with substantial personal debt may be vulnerable to influence by a foreign adversary.
Mr. Comey: (01:08:39)
Yes. A government official, yep.
Mr. Durbin: (01:08:43)
Director Comey, it’s been publicly reported that President Trump has a debt of over $421 million, personal debt, most of which has to be repaid in the next few years. My source, New York Times, September 27th. So as a general matter, are there serious risks when someone with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, personal debt, has access as the President does to all of the countries classified and sensitive information?
Mr. Comey: (01:09:11)
It’s a serious concern when anyone seeking or with a clearance has that kind of financial vulnerability. I don’t know the circumstances particulars of the President’s case, but in general, yes.
Mr. Durbin: (01:09:22)
If the President disclosed his income tax returns, we might be able to know a little more. Let me just say this. This is an important committee with a great history. I’ve said that before and I mean it, and I can certainly point to many times in history where the Senate Judiciary Committee was the leading committee, investigative committee, when it came to the United States Senate. I think it is entirely appropriate that we are meeting today to discuss Russian influence on American elections. I can’t think of anything more insidious than Vladimir Putin trying to affect the outcome of the American election and overruling the verdict of democracy by the American people.
Mr. Durbin: (01:10:01)
It is a great issue. It is an important issue. There’s one problem. Today we’re focusing on the wrong election today. Today we’re focusing on the election of 2016 instead of the election of 2020, the one that is merely five weeks away. FBI Director Wray testified earlier this month that Russia is “very active in the 2020 election.” Director Wray said Russia is exerting “malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt the Biden campaign.” Direct quote. That would seem to be something that the Senate Judiciary Committee might be interested in. Not only that there’s a possibility of interference with the American people voting for President of the United States, but that interference comes from a foreign source, Russia, and they really have their favorite in the race, and their favorite appears to be the incumbent President.
Mr. Durbin: (01:10:55)
And yet we are not taking a look at that today. We are going back on a trip down memory lane to four years ago to decide whether or not certain documents were handled properly, and I will concede the fact, some were not. But let’s be honest. If we were doing our job, we’d be talking about the 2020 election, whether American law is adequate to discourage the Russian intervention, and what steps we are taking as a nation to protect the integrity of the election process. We are not doing that. Because the agenda here is all about a dossier written five or six years ago.
Mr. Durbin: (01:11:32)
Well, that may be of interest to some, but not to most of the American people. And I think it really comes down to some fundamental questions. Why if we are embarking on this escapade into 2016 and what preceded the Russian interference in that election of 2016, why did we decide as a committee on a partisan basis to reject my effort to include subpoenas of Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a Russian agent, Konstantin Kilimnik? If we want to know everything about 2016, why wouldn’t we subpoena them? But yet on a partisan roll call, this committee decided not to. Not interested. Don’t want to get into probing it.
Mr. Durbin: (01:12:18)
We have lots of questions today of Director Comey as to whether he read every document, when he read it if he did, what impact that had on him. But when it came to these two key witnesses whose names appear over and over and over again in the Russian interference of the 2016 election, this committee on a partisan roll call rejected my effort to extend subpoenas to these two individuals. Is there some information we don’t want to know from those two people? I think there’s a lot of questions that have gone unanswered. I also want to make it clear this notion about the Steele dossier. Let me ask you this, Director Comey. Was the Steele dossier the reason that the FBI began looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election?
Mr. Comey: (01:13:04)
Mr. Durbin: (01:13:06)
Are you aware, Director Comey, that none, not one of the 37 indictments and 199 criminal counts resulting from the Mueller investigation relied on the Steele dossier?
Mr. Comey: (01:13:18)
I have read that.
Mr. Durbin: (01:13:21)
I think that makes the case that all of this attention on the Steele dossier, as fascinating as that document may be, did not have direct relevance on the conclusion that the Russians were interfering in the 2016 election, or the indictments that followed from the Mueller investigation. [crosstalk 00:01:13:37].
Senator Graham: (01:13:37)
Thank you. I’m sorry.
Mr. Durbin: (01:13:39)
My time up?
Senator Graham: (01:13:40)
Mr. Durbin: (01:13:42)
Oh, thank you. Let me ask if I might on a statement made by the Attorney General. Let’s see if I can find this to be sure I get this accurately. On May 18th, Attorney General Barr gave a quote at the Department of Justice press conference. He said, “What happened to the president in 2016 election and throughout the first two years of his administration was abhorrent. It was a grave injustice. It was unprecedented in American history.” The Attorney General went on to say the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a “false and utterly baseless, Russian collusion narrative against the President.” And then he went on to say, “The proper investigative and prosecutive standards of the Department of Justice were abused, in my view, in order to reach a particular result.” Director Comey, would you comment on that statement made by Attorney General Barr about the men and women in the Justice Department?
Mr. Comey: (01:14:44)
He says that a lot. I have no idea what on earth he’s talking about. This was an investigation. It was appropriately predicated and opened that had to be opened. And it was in the main conducted in the right way, picked up by the Special Counsel, led to the indictment of dozens of people, and a finding by your colleagues in the Senate that the head of Trump’s campaign was a grave counterintelligence threat to the United States of America because he was funneling information to a known Russian intelligence officer. The notion that the Attorney General believes that was an illegitimate endeavor to investigate that mystifies me.
Mr. Durbin: (01:15:21)
Thank you, Director Comey.
Senator Graham: (01:15:21)
Thank you. If I could just respond a bit to what Senator Durbin said about the committee. I’m not here to suggest that the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 election. They did. Would they try to interfere in 2020? They would. They are. Is China trying to interfere? Yes. So we’ve have briefings about this. I’m very concerned about it. But what brought us here today is that I supported legislation with my colleagues on this side of the aisle and your side of the aisle to make sure Mr. Mueller could do his job without political interference. Well, after two and a half years and $25 million in 60 FBI agents, that job is done. Not one person has been charged with colluding with the Russians in the Trump world. Not one.
Senator Graham: (01:16:08)
Now, when we look into the work product, and I’ve asked Mr. Mueller to come and tell us about the Mueller investigation, he has chosen not to come. If you want Mr. Weissmann to come, I would invite him. The committee is trying to save the FISA system. The FISA warrant applications Carter Page should make every American concerned about how off the rails this system got, that the document necessary to get the warrant against an American citizen, the key document, was prepared by somebody on the Democratic payroll who hired a Russian suspected spy, and all the information in the dossier fell apart over time, and the court was never informed of the exculpatory evidence that was coming in.
Senator Graham: (01:16:59)
And what astounds me the most is that the Director of the FBI in charge of this investigation and involving sitting President, is completely clueless about any of the information obtained by his agency, though suspicion over the document that the sub-source was a suspected Russian agent. That when he was interviewed, he said it was all bar talk, hearsay, should be taken with a grain of salt. That the CIA told the FBI in December this is internet rumor. None of that made it to the court. None of that.
Senator Graham: (01:17:37)
And he didn’t know any of it. How is it possible that an investigation at this level that none of this information that’s damning to the case against Mr. Page never makes it to the top? And you want us to reauthorize this program with a system like that? Everybody’s responsible but nobody’s responsible. Somebody needs to be responsible for misleading the court, excluding information to the court that was exculpatory, that would have mattered. How would you like your client to be treated like this?
Senator Graham: (01:18:09)
So my point is, I am trying my best to understand how the warrant application failed so many times, how the court was abused over months, and nobody seems to be as concerned about it as I am. Well, count me in about being concerned about Russian interference in 2016 and 2020. But if this committee does nothing else, it is to us to find out how it got off the rails how an FBI lawyer could doctor a document that was exculpatory to the subject of the investigation, be charged with a crime. How could that happen? Is there no checks and balances in the FISA process? Is there no duty to be candid with the court when you find something exculpatory? How do you present a document full of information? There is no consulate, Russian consulate in Miami. You had information. The whole sexual escapade thing was Russian disinformation, and it never made it to the court. How are we supposed to trust this system without fundamentally changing it and holding people accountable?
Senator Graham: (01:19:23)
One last question to you, Director Comey, and I’ll turn it over to Senator Lee. Knowing then what you know now about all the things that we’ve come to find, would you have still signed the warrant application against Carter Page in October, January, and April?
Mr. Comey: (01:19:40)
No. I would want a much more complete understanding of what we-
Senator Graham: (01:19:44)
Thank you. Thank you very much. Senator Lee.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:19:46)
You know, Mr. Chairman, it’s a technical thing, but when you speak over the witness, your voice blocks out what the witness said, so we don’t know what the witness said.
Senator Graham: (01:19:57)
Okay. I’m sorry.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:19:58)
So I think it would be helpful if you allowed the witness to complete his answer-
Senator Graham: (01:20:01)
Yeah, I’m sorry.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:20:01)
In a regular hearing with the witness here, we can hear what the witness is saying and the stenographer-
Senator Graham: (01:20:05)
Could you repeat your answer? Fair enough.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:20:06)
Can put it down.
Senator Graham: (01:20:07)
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:20:08)
But you block him out as soon as you talk over him, so if you could let him finish.
Senator Graham: (01:20:13)
I’m sorry. Repeat your answer. I’m sorry.
Mr. Comey: (01:20:14)
My answer was no, not without a much fuller discussion of how they were thinking about their disclosure obligations to the court.
Senator Graham: (01:20:21)
Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator Whitehouse.
Mr. Lee: (01:20:27)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is an issue that’s concerned me for a long time. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has some problems. Those problems have been on live display today. They’ve been on live display over the last few years. I have been working over the last decade to try to reform them. I’ve forced a number of bipartisan proposals to do precisely that most recently with the Lead Leahy amendment, one that passed the Senate that would have passed the House, but the vote for it was canceled. I hope still to get that passed.
Mr. Lee: (01:21:04)
It is a dangerous thing to provide the enormous investigative power of the United States government with as much authority as it has and then to put that in a private secret set of proceedings. These have worried me for a long time. We’ve got to reform them.
Mr. Lee: (01:21:24)
I remember, Mr. Comey, when you were first nominated to be the FBI Director. I had been in the Senate for a few years by then. I hadn’t had a lot of previous interactions with you, but I knew you and I felt I knew you well. I remembered fondly some interaction I had with you as a young prosecutor. You visited the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City and you gave us a really encouraging speech in which you gave your heartfelt sentiments about what it means to be an Assistant United States Attorney. I remember specifically your admonition that it’s important in a job like that where you have to see things that as you put it, people shouldn’t have to see. It’s important to love someone. It’s important to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
Mr. Lee: (01:22:13)
And I remember something inspiring you said. At the time you were serving either as the Deputy Attorney General or the Head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, I’m not sure which. You said in the middle of the night, if someone woke me up and they would say who are you, I would identify myself as an Assistant United States Attorney because deep down that’s who I am. That inspired in me for many years, a level of commitment when representing the United States government, to make sure that I was thorough. And you inspired me.
Mr. Lee: (01:22:45)
For that reason when you were nominated to the position of FBI Director, even though I had some grave concerns with the FBI and how it was administering FISA at the time, I trusted you. I believed that you would act in good faith. When I asked you in my office and later in committee hearings, first in your confirmation hearing, and then in all of our subsequent oversight hearings, what you would do to help make sure that the FISA process was respected and not manipulated. You gave me your word. And having established that brief relationship with you all those years earlier, I trusted you. I have to say today, I’m very disappointed to see that those promises announced to me seem very insincere.
Mr. Lee: (01:23:31)
Now, Mr. Comey, with all due respect, you don’t seem to know anything about an investigation that you ran. So how can you now as a private citizen and former FBI Director show up and then speculate freely, or regarding any alleged ties between President Putin and President Trump? I heard you say just a moment ago. Now I hope I misunderstood you. Please correct me if I did. I think I heard you say that you still speculate they might have something on President Trump because of how President Trump refers or doesn’t refer to President Putin in public. This of course takes into account nothing about the fact that sources you’ve relied on in the past have turned out not to be accurate. You didn’t identify the inaccuracies subsequently to the FISA court. It acknowledges nothing about the fact that there are perfectly reasonable explanations as to why one leader would refer to a foreign leader in a certain tone, or the fact that this is the same tone that he uses in referring to other world leaders, particularly those world leaders in parts of the country where we’ve had some issues.
Mr. Lee: (01:24:47)
So honestly, how can you as a private citizen now come to us and in your capacity as former FBI Director, and speculate so freely regarding these alleged ties when you don’t seem to know anything about this investigation that you ran?
Mr. Comey: (01:25:06)
I’m sorry, Senator. I can, as a private citizen, because I have eyes and ears and I said in response to the question, that’s how it strikes me watching the President and Helsinki take Putin’s side against his own intelligence community and lots of stuff like that. And so I separate the two. I agree with you. There are serious reasons to worry about the FISA process when the Inspector General found errors in every FISA application, and that’s a really important thing to dig into, and I respect this committee looking at it. So that I think about those two things.
Mr. Lee: (01:25:35)
Okay. I’m glad to hear that we share that in common. That’s something we can build on. That’s fantastic. Why do you not think that you had a duty to provide all the information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court? I mean, you signed the renewal application. Did you not?
Mr. Comey: (01:25:53)
I signed a certification which is very narrow.
Mr. Lee: (01:25:56)
Got it. What does that mean? What the heck does the certification mean if you weren’t required to know, and in fact did not know what was in there, and if you didn’t have any duty to provide all the information to the court, what does that certification mean?
Mr. Comey: (01:26:15)
I was trying to say, Senator, when you started speaking again, the certification is narrow that the FBI Director has to sign, but that doesn’t change the fact that the FBI has a duty of candor, of heightened candor, to the FISA court, and it wasn’t met according to the Inspector General here. That’s a separate question from whether the FBI Director should have been briefed on the individual portions of the Carter Page investigation. I know people care about that. Much more important, why were there material omissions, not just in this application, but in all the applications that the Inspector General looked at? So I think that’s a really important question.
Mr. Lee: (01:26:49)
Okay. We have to remember that the only reason that the people who did this, I’m confident, number one, the circumstantial evidence suggests that there likely was a political motive. In fact, one of the reasons that we know that is that in various documents that we’ve obtained, we can see political motives coming into consideration. But in many instances, those individuals didn’t believe they had any chance of getting caught. They believed Hillary Clinton was going to win. Had she won, in all probability, none of this would have come to light.
Mr. Lee: (01:27:27)
How should this strike the American people? The average American citizen, knowing that any American citizen could get caught into the same type of trap, could become the subject of an investigation rooted in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it would never come to light. If in this circumstance where there was always a possibility that it would come to light, and it did come to light because the individual who was connected to the investigation became elected President of the United States, despite the best efforts or perhaps the expectations of those conducting the investigation, how should they have any confidence in the FISA process when certifications were provided but the full information wasn’t, when the duty of candor to the court wasn’t met, when no one seems to take accountability for anything, and this entire process is handled in secret with a malleable standard leaving it almost without accountability? Should the American people have any confidence in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or in those government lawyers appearing before it?
Mr. Comey: (01:28:41)
I’m not going to address your long preamble which I have a significant disagreement with. The American people should always want to know how the government’s power is being used, especially when it’s being used in secret. How is it checked? How is it overseeing? How has it balanced? And we know, because you’ve been around a long time too, that periodically we discover problems in any ex parte process. The American people should have confidence in the oversight of the Inspector General especially, and of this committee and your counterparts in the House, to demand those answers. I think that’s totally appropriate.
Mr. Lee: (01:29:12)
Okay. Mr. Chairman, I see my time’s expired. You don’t install a wasp nest in your child’s bedroom and then express surprise when the child gets bitten by wasps. [inaudible 01:29:25] You don’t adopt an ex parte process and then express surprise and outrage when it goes completely unsupervised and off the rails. This is an issue that’s neither Republican nor Democrat. It’s it’s neither liberal nor conservative. This is a constitutional issue. This is a moral issue and we’ve got big problems. We need to pass the Lead Leahy amendment and we need to reform or eliminate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (01:29:52)
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:29:53)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am particularly sensitive to the problem of selective declassification because I had to go through being on the receiving end of a lot of selective declassification during the intelligence committees investigation of the torture program. And I will tell you, it is extremely frustrating to have information declassified, in that case out of the White House, that you know can be exploded, completely blown up by other information. But that other information hasn’t been declassified, so you can’t answer the false implication from selectively declassified information. So from that background, I am really concerned that we are treating this Ratcliffe letter as something at all serious or credible. And Mr. Chairman, I hope very much that nobody from this committee had any hand in generating this letter. We are recipients only, I hope, because if we had any hand in this, that’s a real problem.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:31:03)
I will point out that with respect to bullet one, talking about tying Trump to Putin and the Russians hacking of the Democratic National Committee, that’s actually an established fact. With respect to the point about a proposal from a foreign policy advisor claiming interference by Russian security services, that is an established fact. And the U.S. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and Russian hackers hampering U.S. elections is also an established fact. So what else do you have around here is what looks like just something that got spun up by a political appointee and is now being offered through this committee as having any credibility. And I think that this rings just innumerable bells about the dangers of selective declassification. So there’s topic one. I’ve got a problem with selective declassification in our proceedings here.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:32:01)
Second, I’ve got a big problem with access to documents. You and I have talked about this. You know that I’ve made public statements about how the FBI appears to have had a policy for damn short, a pattern, of refusing to answer questions, refusing to answer QFRs. And many cases to Republican senators, but for sure to Democrat senators, you took that claim seriously enough that you organized a meeting for me with the Deputy Attorney General, to explain this policy or this pattern of not answering questions. That was on June 15th, as I recall, and here we are nearly into October, and do you know how many answers I’ve gotten since that meeting? Zero. None. Not a single one.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:32:43)
So when it comes to our questions, it looks like it’s a total stone wall. In this case, on this matter, the DOJ has given the Chairman unprecedented access to information, including deliberative documents, stuff that they wouldn’t give us even if they were answering our questions, and classified information, which usually is a mares nest to get through, 18 separate productions of highly sensitive documents, totaling 1,550 pages. So this particular question seems to be getting high-speed special treatment out of the DOJ, when in other areas, we get a complete wall of silence and shut down.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:33:24)
And the last is, I’m told, that there are even private briefings to Republicans only on this matter in which Democrats were not invited to participate. Again, if that is true, a combination of selective declassification, dishonorable and unfair access to documents, and partisan private briefings does not get us off to a good start, going back to my letter to you of June 4th, about the hazards of this investigation. So I just needed to say that.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:33:58)
I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that it is worth looking into the question of what is wrong with the FISA process that allowed these repeated errors to happen across a whole array of cases. But it’s also so interesting to read the Gleeson brief, where a retired federal judge on behalf of a federal judge accused the Department of Justice under Attorney General Barr of running political errands for the President in order to protect a political supporter and friend of his, Mr. Flynn. And we have exactly zero attention being paid to that. That is a fairly serious matter of interest, I think equivalent to the matter of interest in FISA, but nothing.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:34:41)
The current FBI Director is talking about present Russian interference in this election right now as we speak to try to get President Trump reelected. Where’s the hearing on that? Where are the documents on that? Where’s the declassified material on that? None of it. And you know, I’ll go back to, what I considered, because I don’t have any information because the FBI has given me none, what appears to have been a bogus tip line in the Kavanaugh investigation. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but a question about whether that was a bogus tip line, I think, is something that is worth answering. And yes, it is important that the FISA process was abused. But if an FBI investigation was abused in the Kavanaugh hearings, that’s also an important matter.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:35:26)
So I don’t want to deprecate the importance of what we’re doing here, but I do think it stands in a very sharp contrast to other issues with the FBI that are continually swept under the rug and continually stone walled. The question that I have is something I’ve raised before, and I’ll ask Director Comey, because he’s done a lot of investigations. You and I have done investigations as well, Chairman. You’ve been a prosecutor. If you have an investigation, and if you determine in your oversight as a supervisor, that there is a flaw or an omission or a false statement in a warrant application-
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:36:02)
… omission or a false statement in a warrant application, obviously you should not file that warrant application with the court. The problem is that the committee’s questions on the Republican side have always ended there. You would not sign the warrant if you knew that was the case. The problem with that is that you then go onto the next step. And that is just because there was a flaw in a proposed warrant doesn’t mean you end the investigation. You’re nodding your head, we both agree. At the end of the day, what you then do is you go back and you look at whether the investigation was otherwise predicated with all the falsity or whatever removed, and everything accurate that needs to be in there done. And if then the investigation was otherwise predicated, and if then there was otherwise probable cause to continue, Director Comey, do you not then proceed with the investigation with a cleaned up warrant rather than let somebody get off scot-free because of an error that never reached the court?
Mr. Comey: (01:37:08)
You’d certainly want to go through, I think that’s called the Franks process, to understand whether you still have sufficient basis to establish probable cause with the mistakes and omissions corrected.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:37:17)
And that is standard FBI practice, correct?
Mr. Comey: (01:37:20)
It’s standard prosecutorial investigative practice across the nation.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:37:23)
Across the board. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (01:37:27)
Respond and turn it over to Senator Cruz. Number one, Senator Whitehouse has reason to be concerned about some testimony given in the House by a Department of Justice official about environmental policy. And we will keep plugging away with me and you and Senator Lee because this a legitimate inquiry.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:37:48)
Just to be clear, Chairman, yes, I’m very concerned about the antitrust investigation and who was behind it and why it seemed to violate so many rules and norms. And when we get around to Senator Lee and Senator Klobuchar’s antitrust investigation, which was supposed to be today but has been, I gather, indefinitely postponed, I would hope that we have those documents. But the list that I gave to the deputy attorney general of all of the QFRs that I’ve not had answers to and of all of the questions and letters I’ve not had answers to goes well beyond that one issue of the Delrahim investigation of fake investigation and, it would seem, but we’ll see, of the auto companies.
Senator Graham: (01:38:33)
Yeah. And just to make it clear to the public at large, because the Carter Page warrant application was incredibly flawed doesn’t mean you can’t look at other things. The question for me has always been okay, let’s look at all things Trump. In the dossier, they accuse Carter Page as having a relationship with Manafort, and that’s where he’s passing all this information. Carter Page never talked to Manafort. As things that the court should know, allegations being made, we now know that the dossier was a result, at least in part, of Russian disinformation. That the FBI took Russian disinformation from a political party, paid for by a political party, and got a warrant against an American citizen. And that’s pretty stunning. And we got to do something. Somebody needs to go to jail or get fired over that.
Senator Graham: (01:39:31)
Now, the question has always been, did the FBI have the same zeal looking at Trump? Let’s put it this way. Everything Trump got looked at, people’s lives were turned upside down, $25 million was spent, and nobody’s ever been charged with colluding with the Russians on the Trump side. Was there any suggestion maybe the other side was involved in trying to create a Russian Trump problem for political purposes? We know that Christopher Steele was on the payroll of the Democratic party. We know that he was working for Fusion GPS. We know that his primary sub-source was Igor, the Russian spy. If they were willing to do that, would they be willing to do more? We know in July, there’s an intercept out there from Russian intelligence analysts that the Clinton campaign is concocting a strategy to tie Trump to Russia. All I’m suggesting is did they look at that?
Senator Graham: (01:40:28)
And Director Comey has told me he doesn’t remember getting an inquiry from the intelligence community about a September concern about the Clinton campaign trying to change the subject from the server to Trump Russia. He doesn’t remember that. So what kind of system do we have? We look at all things Trump all the time. And when we get exculpatory evidence, we keep looking. When we told it’s not reliable, we keep using it. And when there’s suggestions that the other side may be up to no good, we just ignore it. That’s why the Ratcliffe information is important to be. I haven’t been privately briefed by anybody, but I’m beginning to understand there was a two tiered system here.
Senator Graham: (01:41:11)
When it came to Trump, there were no rules. Plow ahead, ignore everything, lie if you need to, alter documents. And when it came to Clinton, seems to be a completely different standard knowing that the campaign had on it’s payroll a foreign agent who hired a Russian spy to get dirt on Trump. That is the concern I have. And we can’t live in a world where you turn the world upside down against one campaign and give the other campaign pretty much a complete pass regarding Russia. Senator Cruz.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:41:40)
Chairman, since you’ve responded to me, may I have a moment back to you?
Senator Graham: (01:41:43)
Yes, you may.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:41:44)
I’ll be brief. The only thing I will say is that if you look at the Ratcliffe letter, the only thing that it really says is that, if it’s to be believed at all, there was a plan within the Clinton campaign to point out that Trump and the Russians were scheming in the election or the Trump campaign and the Russians were scheming in the election.
Senator Graham: (01:42:09)
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:42:09)
So that predicated fact seems actually to be established truth, if you believe the SSCI report and if you believe what Director Wray is saying right now and what the FBI has said all along. So it’s really hard to call a campaign’s effort to blow the whistle on the other side’s communications with Russia and Russia’s efforts to support that candidate with the actual efforts to do that. I mean, they’re not the same thing.
Senator Graham: (01:42:41)
Thank you. I have a completely different view of what this-
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:42:43)
Okay. But you had a chance to say yours. You gave me a chance to say mine and I’m grateful to you. I’ll yield back and I thank you for that courtesy.
Senator Graham: (01:42:51)
All I know is that the CIA felt Obama needed to know about this. And I take it completely different that this was an effort by the Clinton campaign to tie Trump to Russia. Not because of anything they found, because that was part of their political strategy. Senator Lee, you want to say something?
Senator Lee: (01:43:11)
Yeah. Since the antitrust subcommittee was brought up, I just wanted to respond to that point. As you know, Senator Whitehouse, we had originally scheduled the oversight hearing for today. Because of this conflict with this hearing today, that couldn’t occur. I’ve been in constant contact with Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who is an outstanding lawyer, one that I’ve known for 20 years and who I trust. Now, I know you and I perhaps see that differently. Makan Delrahim is eager, not only willing, but eager to come and testify and to set the record straight again on these issues. He has, in fact, responded to your letter. I don’t know whether you’ve read that response yet or not. He also told me last night I believe there are more documents that he’s either just sent you or about to send you. I’d like to know, instead of just smearing him by saying that he’s being evasive, tell me what questions you’ve asked that he hasn’t answered. Because to my knowledge, he has responded to you. You may not like his responses, but-
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:44:14)
I’ll get you the list.
Senator Lee: (01:44:15)
Please do. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (01:44:15)
Yeah, we’ll resolve this.
Mr. Whitehouse: (01:44:18)
I gave a list of the chairman some time ago and I assumed that would be passed on to you. I think it’s important that we do this. And I don’t want to be in a situation in which he comes in and I don’t have the chance to do the preparation for a meaningful hearing.
Senator Graham: (01:44:31)
Yeah, I totally get that.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:44:33)
Mr. Chair, maybe you can help us get this hearing, being the ranking on that subcommittee, because I was willing to do it tomorrow. I’d be willing to do it any day next week. It looks like we’re going to be back. We’ll be back. Both Senator Whitehouse and I are going to be back the week after that for this Supreme Court hearing. I just think it’s really important that we go forward. There’s major tech investigations going on. And we were going to have both the head of the FTC and the head of the Antitrust Division. So I hope we can schedule this, I thought it was really unfortunate this got canceled because of this hearing.
Senator Graham: (01:45:07)
Yeah. Well, I think this hearing’s important. And I agree what you’re wanting is important. And we’ll get there. Somehow, we’ll get there. Senator Cruz.
Senator Cruz: (01:45:17)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Returning to Mr. Comey. Mr. Comey, you testified earlier today that you have concerns whenever the FBI doesn’t operate in a ” competent and honest way.” In your judgment, was the way that the FBI handled the Russia investigation, the surveillance of the Trump campaign, the Carter Page FISA application, the Michael Flynn investigation, was that handled in a competent and honest way?
Mr. Comey: (01:45:50)
First, Senator Cruz, there was no, to my knowledge, surveillance of the Trump campaign. I think the overall investigation of the Russian interference and whether Americans were associated with it was conducted in an honest, competent, independent way.
Senator Cruz: (01:46:04)
Okay. So Mr. Comey, you’re saying it’s competent and honest. I assume you’ve read the Horowitz Inspector General report, which found 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA application. So in your view, 17 mistakes, lying to the court is competent and honest?
Mr. Comey: (01:46:24)
I’ve read the report. I don’t believe he concluded there were lies to the court, but there is significant and important failings in the way in which the Carter Page FISA was prepared and renewed.
Senator Cruz: (01:46:33)
All right. Mr. Comey, let’s go directly to lies. The Inspector General report concluded that Mr. Kleinsmith, an attorney who worked for you in the FBI, deliberately altered an email. He had emailed the CIA to ask if Carter Page was a source, the CIA came back and said yes, he was a source. And Mr. Kleinsmith, your lawyer, altered that email to add the words “not a source” to make the email say precisely the opposite of what the CIA said. And that fraudulent document was then used as a basis for a fraudulent submission to the FISA court. You believe that is honest and competent, Mr. Comey?
Mr. Comey: (01:47:13)
I don’t believe you’ve offered an accurate summary of the Horowitz’s findings.
Senator Cruz: (01:47:19)
Mr. Comey, I have the report right in front of me. Page 254 describes how the lawyer, specifically the words “and not a source,” had been inserted in the response, directly reversing what the CIA says. Was it practice in your FBI to fraudulently alter evidence that you submit to federal courts?
Mr. Comey: (01:47:44)
It was not the practice in the FBI to fraudulently alter anything that’s presented to federal courts.
Senator Cruz: (01:47:49)
Well, it is difficult to say that an investigation that featured fraudulent evidence is competent and honest. But let’s move on to something else. The predicate of much of this investigation was the Steele dossier, which has now been totally discredited as garbage. When did you learn that the Steele dossier was being funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign?
Mr. Comey: (01:48:17)
Again, I believe your predicate is inaccurate, but I first learned of the Steele dossier in late September of 2016, and understood that it was funded by political opposition to President Trump or candidate Trump. I didn’t know the specifics of which part of the opposition, but I knew that it was political opposition research funding.
Senator Cruz: (01:48:38)
When? When did you learn that?
Mr. Comey: (01:48:40)
I think about the time I was briefed on it. So about the same time, probably third week of September.
Senator Cruz: (01:48:44)
So you were personally aware that the political opposition, whether the DNC or Hillary Clinton or whatever campaign bucket it was coming from, it was the opposing party that was funding it. You were specifically aware of it in September. Why didn’t you tell the FISA court? Why did you omit that over and over and over again on applications you submitted? Didn’t the court deserve to know that?
Mr. Comey: (01:49:05)
My recollection is the FISA court was alerted to the possibility that it was a politically biased reporting.
Senator Cruz: (01:49:10)
Your recollection is false. The FISA court was not told that it was funded by the DNC. That’s one of the omissions that your FBI did repeatedly to the federal court. All right. Go ahead.
Mr. Comey: (01:49:23)
That’s not what I just said.
Senator Cruz: (01:49:25)
What did you just say?
Mr. Comey: (01:49:26)
I said my recollection is the court was alerted that it was potential political bias in this reporting.
Senator Cruz: (01:49:35)
Political bias is different from saying it was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. You just testified to this committee you were specifically aware of that. And yet you repeatedly did not inform the court of it when you were getting an order to essentially weaponize the Democratic opposition research. All right, next question. When did you learn that the primary sub-source, so the basis for this garbage Steele dossier, was a suspected Russian asset?
Mr. Comey: (01:50:06)
I don’t remember ever being informed of any prior investigation of any of Steele’s sources, including the primary sub-source.
Senator Cruz: (01:50:13)
So you’re not aware of it today?
Mr. Comey: (01:50:17)
I’m aware of it today because I’ve read it in the public sphere and I’ve read a summary memo that the Department of Justice sent to the judiciary committee.
Senator Cruz: (01:50:25)
I would note the primary sub-source was subject to FBI investigation, a counter-intelligence investigation, from 2009 to 2011. And I will read some of what the investigation was. The primary sub-source approached two individuals who were about to enter the Obama administration and indicated that if quote, “the two individuals at the table did get a job in the government and had access to classified information and wanted to make a little extra money, the primary sub-source knew some people to whom they could speak.” He’s trying to recruit spies against the US government. You have a Russian agent that is the basis for an FBI investigation. And the FBI is the one who had investigated them. Your testimony is you didn’t know. Did it occur to you to ask? Did you ask any questions or do any due diligence on this at all?
Mr. Comey: (01:51:19)
I don’t remember anything about the facts that have been revealed recently about the sub-source. And as I said earlier, I think that cuts both ways, but I don’t know how the people running the investigation thought about it.
Senator Cruz: (01:51:30)
Well, you didn’t tell the FISA court that either. And I suspect the FISA court would have had a very different assessment if you had told them that the basis for your application was what you were being told from a suspected Russian asset. All right. Let’s shift to another topic. On May 3rd, 2017, in this committee, Chairman Grassley asked you point blank, “Have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?” You responded under oath, “Never.” He then asked you, “Have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton administration?” You responded again under oath, “No.” Now, as you know, Mr. McCabe, who works for you, has publicly and repeatedly stated that he leaked information to the Wall Street Journal and that you were directly aware of it and that you directly authorized it. Now, what Mr. McCabe is saying and what you testified to this committee cannot both be true. One or the other is false. Who’s telling the truth?
Mr. Comey: (01:52:43)
I can only speak to my testimony. I stand by the testimony you summarized that I gave in May of 2017.
Senator Cruz: (01:52:50)
So your testimony is you’ve never authorized anyone to leak? And Mr. McCabe, if he says contrary, is not telling the truth, is that correct?
Mr. Comey: (01:52:58)
Again, I’m not going to characterize Andy’s testimony, but mine is the same today.
Senator Cruz: (01:53:02)
All right, I’m going to make a final point because my time has expired. This investigation of the president was corrupt. The FBI and the Department of Justice were politicized and weaponized. And in my opinion, there are only two possibilities. That you were deliberately corrupt or willfully incompetent. And I don’t believe you were incompetent. This has done severe damage to the professionals and the honorable men and women at the FBI because law enforcement should not be used as a political weapon. And that is the legacy you have left.
Senator Graham: (01:53:41)
Senator Klobuchar: (01:53:43)
Senator Graham: (01:53:46)
I’m sorry. Oh, I’m sorry. Senator Klobuchar. I didn’t see you, I apologize.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:53:52)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much, Director Comey, for being here once again. I think a lot of people are wondering why we are having this hearing right now. And I think most people would think we should be talking about other things. Except maybe President Trump. And I understand the Chair’s statements about wanting to move on FISA reform. I will point out the Republicans have been running the Senate for the last four years. They have their own internal disagreements on FISA. The president has been president for the last four years, and I haven’t heard him talking about FISA reform repeatedly as one of his major priorities. I’m sure if he wanted to make this a major priority within your party, it could have gotten done. But instead, we are having this hearing right now.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:54:48)
And I will get to Mr. Comey in a while. I’ll note that he has appeared before this committee many times. If you look at all of these reports about what he did in his time in office, I don’t agree with everything that he did, but I do know, as being his classmate in law school, I could call him anytime and ask him things. But I also know that he had the respect of a lot of people that worked for him. And so if I look at legacies, we all have mixed legacies. We all have things that we regret, we have things that we’re proud of. But I know that one of his legacies was that he did have support for law enforcement. I know it from people in Minnesota. And I would note that he was fired. When were you fired, Mr. Comey?
Mr. Comey: (01:55:37)
May 9th of 2017.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:55:39)
And where were you when you found out that you were fired by the president?
Mr. Comey: (01:55:43)
In Los Angeles for a diversity recruiting event. I found out on television.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:55:49)
And I know that you went all around the country talking to law enforcement. Is that right, during your time as head of the FBI?
Mr. Comey: (01:55:56)
Senator Klobuchar: (01:55:57)
And are you proud of the work that the people did in the FBI?
Mr. Comey: (01:56:01)
Enormously. It was one of the highlights of my entire life to be associated with them.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:56:06)
Thank you. So what I’m thinking, as people watch this, not that many people are, but if they are, what they’re thinking is, “What are you guys doing?” First of all, there is an election coming up in a few weeks. And as Senator Durbin has pointed out, there are a lot of concerns right now about Russia, not about what Mr. Comey was involved in that investigation years ago, but what’s happening right now. We have Director Wray himself, the current FBI director appointed by President Trump, saying, “Russia is very active in the 2020 election, primarily through what we would call malign foreign influence in an attempt to undermine Joe Biden, to denigrate Vice President Biden.” That’s quote. Mueller, “We know this. The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign knew about it. We know that we have Director Coats saying that Russia is the,” Former Director Coats, “is the most aggressive foreign actor, no question.” Quote from Coats, former Senator here, “The warning lights are blinking red again.”
Senator Klobuchar: (01:57:20)
And then we have the CIA World Intelligence Review. “We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former US vice president, supporting the US president, and fueling public discord ahead of the US election in November.” So that’s the hearing that we should be having right now. Or as was pointed out by Senator Whitehouse, we could be having the hearing we were supposed to be having right now, which is the head of the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department and the head of the FTC. While we’ve got fraud going on during this pandemic, we could be asking them about innocent people being hurt, we could be asking them about, as Senator Whitehouse has pointed out, what in the world is going on over at the Antitrust Division, why they devoted so many resources to marijuana mergers, and we could be asking them the results of their tech investigations, which is now basically 20% of the stock market. Those are pretty important things.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:58:23)
Or we could, instead of being here, rehashing this of someone who is asking someone who was fired from their job by the president, along with so many other people, we could be trying to figure out what we should be doing for the American people during this pandemic. 850 people a day, 850 people a day dying from the coronavirus. 800 businesses closed every single day. But here we are rehashing this.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:58:57)
So to me, if anyone watched that debate last night, since I believe that’s why we’re having this hearing, because we’re just a few weeks out, we may as well be pretty blatant about it, if anyone watched the debate last night and saw the president in all of his heckling glory, I think what they saw was someone who is trying to undermine our elections, spreading falsehoods about voting by mail when, in fact, so many people in this building and Republican governors across this country have said it’s perfectly safe to vote by mail, refusing to condemn white supremacy in front of the entire nation. That’s not something you clean up the next day. All of this is done to wreak havoc right before an election.
Senator Klobuchar: (01:59:48)
So that’s what I think we should be talking about today. But instead, we’re here with you, Director Comey. So I will ask you some very quick questions. When you were FBI director, did you become aware, at some point prior to the 2016 presidential election, that Russia launched a sophisticated effort to disrupt and interfere in the US election?
Mr. Comey: (02:00:09)
Senator Klobuchar: (02:00:10)
And as the FBI and intelligence agencies were learning about that threat, did you also become aware of efforts by the Russians to pass information to the Trump campaign that they believed would be helpful?
Mr. Comey: (02:00:24)
Senator Klobuchar: (02:00:25)
Is it true that there were more than 120 contacts between the Trump campaign and individuals linked to Russia?
Mr. Comey: (02:00:35)
I think that’s the number I recall from the Senate Intel report and the Mueller report, somewhere in that area.
Senator Klobuchar: (02:00:40)
Do you agree with the Trump administration intelligence officials that I just quoted, including your successor at the FBI, that President Trump appointed that Russia is emboldened and trying it again?
Mr. Comey: (02:00:58)
Yes. I accept what Chris Wray, the FBI director said. He’s a person of integrity, which makes his life difficult now, but the American people can trust him.
Senator Klobuchar: (02:01:06)
Does coordinating with a foreign power as part of a political campaign, especially a foreign adversary like Russia, pose a serious threat to our national security?
Mr. Comey: (02:01:17)
Senator Klobuchar: (02:01:19)
And why do you think, since again, we have chosen to have this hearing literally weeks before the election, throwing aside all other subjects that we could be devoted to at the time, why do you think that nearly 500 national security experts, including former military leaders, have said that the current president has demonstrated that he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office? Why do you think that Republicans, Democrats, and independents have said this?
Mr. Comey: (02:01:55)
Because those are people whose spine is a commitment to integrity and they see an absolute absence of that with the current commander in chief. And it concerns all of them without regard to their politics. As it should.
Senator Klobuchar: (02:02:08)
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Comey.
Senator Graham: (02:02:11)
We’ll vocade to Senator Sasse and give Mr. Comey about a 10 minute break and restroom break. Is that okay, Mr. Comey?
Mr. Comey: (02:02:19)
Senator Graham: (02:02:20)
Okay, great. And just one response to Senator Klobuchar, who I consider a friend. I’ll be honest with you, you wouldn’t be having this hearing and everybody in the world knows it. The Horowitz report, which is damning, was never appeared before the House Judiciary Committee. Y’all don’t care. As a party, you seem to be only worried about Trump and Russia. And when there’s evidence coming out of every corner of the world that the Russians played the FBI through a DNC operative, that’s just of no consequence. Let the American people know. If you were in charge, we wouldn’t know any of this. Senator Sasse.
Senator Sasse: (02:03:04)
Thank you, Chairman. Director Comey, I think that the Horowitz report is not just saddening and infuriating, it’s also really embarrassing. As somebody who cares deeply about the FBI and its culture and its workers, we’ve got a whole bunch of American patriotic heroes who work inside that institution, and they have lost standing, they’ve lost respect in the eyes of the American people, a lot of trust has evaporated. I’ve fought hard to defend the FBI and its culture. And I was embarrassed to read the Horowitz report. When you read it, what are the top two or three things that you’re embarrassed by?
Mr. Comey: (02:03:47)
Well, I think I share your reaction, Senator Sasse. The collection of omissions, failures to consider updates, to communicate between the team trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not true with the Steele material, and the team investigating Carter Page is embarrassing. It’s sloppy, I’ve run out of words. There’s no indication, and the Inspector General would say it if he found it, that people were doing bad things on purpose. But that doesn’t make it any less concerning and embarrassing.
Senator Sasse: (02:04:16)
But doesn’t that point at you? I mean, you and I have spoken multiple times over my five and a half years here, or I guess from arriving here in January of 2015 through to your departure in 2017. You and I had many, many discussions about the future of cyber and information operations against not just the United States government, but against institutions more broadly that would so distrust. And you and I agreed that the FBI had not just an incredibly important emission in that space, but a really hard mission. There was a lot of work to be done to be sure we were prepared to play defense against the kind of cyber and information operations that we’re now talking about here today.
Senator Sasse: (02:04:57)
And we said, you and I agreed on this, that public trust was at risk. And as we listen to you testify today, repeatedly you say things like, “I was unaware.” There’s this passive voice about how all these things happened in the Bureau. It was your culture. You were the leader. You were to maintain and build up that culture. And you understood the nature of the challenge. Isn’t the Horowitz report chiefly an indictment of you personally?
Mr. Comey: (02:05:23)
Oh, two things are true. And I hope you don’t hear me to say, “I’m not responsible.” I was leader of that institution. So this reflects on me entirely, and it’s my responsibility. That’s a separate question from whether I was briefed on a particular aspect of a particular investigation. But no, I’m not looking to shirk responsibility. The director’s responsible.
Senator Sasse: (02:05:41)
I appreciate that. That’s a real answer. But my question wasn’t just about the particular investigation that’s the headline of today’s hearing. It’s that IG Horowitz’s report talks about a FISA process that is riddled with errors. Every single place they looked, it was crap. You were in charge. How is it possible that the FISA process is that bad? I have defended the FISA process. I’ve fought against many of the particular reforms that some of my colleagues have wanted to advance because I believed the checks and balances in the system were real. You were responsible for those checks and balances. Where were you?
Mr. Comey: (02:06:20)
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think all of us, me in particular, took comfort in the complexity of the layers and layers of review and oversight associated with FISA. And I actually think, given that they found problems in every FISA application, that what we thought was a good thing was actually a bad thing. And I hope they’re looking at returning the model to one closer to criminal wiretaps, where a single agent and a single lawyer are responsible and they feel the squeeze of signing their name. What happened to us, I think, through a lot of years of creating oversight is responsibility was diffused instead of concentrated in individual human beings. I hope that’s something the inspector general and the director are looking at, but I share your concern. It’s a really important question.
Senator Sasse: (02:07:06)
I think that’s insufficient. I have a lot of neighbors in Nebraska who believe there is a massive deep state conspiracy. I don’t believe most of those conspiracy theories, but it is really hard to understand how that many special agents, and I want to be clear, the vast majority of special agents are wonderful, hardworking humans who have lots of opportunities to earn more money and have more schedule control if they were doing something else. The FBI is filled with men and women who do great stuff for the American people. So I want to fight hard to defend against impugning so many of them. And yet it appears that at the top of your organization, there was a culture where many of the people who should have been doing the hard work to make sure the checks and balances were fully carried out didn’t think there was really any chance they would get caught. And so they could be sloppy to malicious. A lot of people in this room and watching at home or who read the Horowitz report can have different views about how much of this is incompetence to evil, but-
Senator Sasse: (02:08:03)
… Different views about how much of this is incompetence to evil. But somewhere on that continuum, that was a whole hell of a lot of people at the top of your organization who didn’t ever actually think they were going to be held accountable. What did you do to manage the FISA process so that you don’t just have the passive voice that we’ve heard in the vast majority of your answers today? “I was unaware. This happened. This was an individual particular error, but it didn’t speak systemically.” But the truth is you are responsible for systemically and systematically managing that culture. What did you do to make sure the FISA process would work?
Mr. Comey: (02:08:39)
First Senator, the notion of a deep state? I hope people who think that would take a look at the fact that the inspector general found mistakes in FISA applications across counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, all manner of cases, very difficult to reconcile that finding with the notion that there’s a deep state, but it does indicate there’s a problem with attention to the requirements of preparing an adequate FISA. I clearly didn’t do enough. I believe that our process, which I kept myself closely informed about, was robust, well-staffed, had great manuals and all those sorts of things. I was clearly wrong about that and had too much confidence in that oversight regime. And I think, based on my experience, that the problem may well be deceptively simple. The responsibility was spread among dozens of people instead of being focused the way it is in a criminal case.
Senator Sasse: (02:09:30)
But the leadership in your office didn’t have oversight of the dozens of people who would sign off on the most important investigations. The Bureau has done amazing things in its century of existence and there’ve been lots of high profile investigations. But this one was obviously one of the most high profile investigations ever conducted and the people at the top didn’t think that they would actually have their work checked. Mr. Chairman, I continue to believe that we have to explain to the American people why the FISA process is important. The Russia challenges that we’ve faced in 2016 and that we clearly are facing again in 2020 are a big deal, but the much bigger deal is the Chinese communist party attacks on the American election that are coming over the next decade. Putin is clunky as heck in how he does everything he does.
Senator Sasse: (02:10:20)
When the CCP does all that they are capable of doing, it’s going to make Russia interference look like child’s play and the FBI and the broader intelligence community have a vitally important role to play in helping protect the American people. And we have to explain to the American public why the FISA process is so critically important and we have to reform this culture. I’m a big Amy Klobuchar fan in lots of ways, but I disagree with the line of argument that this broad hearing topic isn’t important. The reality is we’re headed toward a world where if we don’t fix the national security branch and the counter intelligence pieces of the FBI, we are not going to have an intelligence community that’s going to have the trust of the American people when they’re going to have to employ bigger and more far reaching digital tools in the future. Thank you.
Senator Graham: (02:11:07)
Thank you. Now Senator Coons, I think you want to have questions before we break? Is that okay with you Mr.-
Amy Klobuchar: (02:11:13)
Could I just respond since my name was invoked?
Senator Graham: (02:11:14)
Senator Sasse: (02:11:16)
It was invoked pretty positively.
Amy Klobuchar: (02:11:17)
Pretty positively. I appreciate it. I have no issue with having this hearing and I think it’s something many people up here agree. My only point was there’s been years to fix it since this happened and we weren’t running in the Senate. That was my point.
Senator Graham: (02:11:31)
Yep. And I’ll turn it over to Senator Coons, then we’ll take a 10 minute break. I just want to put a fine point on this. An FBI lawyer altered a document in a fashion to be damning to an American citizen. That’s not sloppy, that’s a crime. And when does it become obvious to anybody that the people in charge of Crossfire Hurricane had a deep seeded bias against Trump. They thought he was an idiot. They thought his supporters were smelly. The person who altered the email claimed to be part of the resistance.
Senator Graham: (02:12:04)
When did it becomes obvious that the reason this thing was so screwed up, that the reason every stop sign was run, is because they didn’t want to take no for the answer. That is obvious to me, that’s not in every other FISA application. There are problems with the procedure, but we haven’t found one where a lawyer altered the document. And every time there was exculpatory information, it was withheld from the court. And what kind of system is it that the FBI director has no clue about the most important investigation, maybe in the history of the FBI? If you want to believe that and just write this off, I think you do so at your own peril. Senator Cruz?
Ted Cruz: (02:12:46)
And Mr. Chairman, just to underscore your point, every one of the 17 material emissions was against President Trump and against the campaign. They weren’t random, they were all politically oriented against the president they were trying to take down.
Senator Graham: (02:13:00)
Chris Coons: (02:13:02)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you Mr. Comey for your testimony today and for engaging with us in this vigorous and thorough review of matters that occurred, now, four and five years ago, but that remain relevant and important. But I want to remind all of us the context in which this hearing has taken place. We have 34 days to our presidential election. More than half the states have already started voting, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and economic crisis, a time of heightened racial tension and concern about criminal justice. And instead of dedicating the next week or two to finalizing a next round of COVID relief, we’re going to be spending our time, at least here, not looking at election security for 2020, not dedicating our time to a next round of pandemic relief, but participating in a rushed and partisan process to confirm a next Supreme Court Justice.
Chris Coons: (02:13:57)
It is important to remind folks that our elections are being attacked at this very moment, that we know from recent testimony by the current FBI director that there continues to be foreign interference in our elections. And so I think at some level there is irony in light of the fact that last night we had a presidential debate in which our currently serving president said and did things to undermine some of the legitimacy of our upcoming election. Let me start with just a few questions about that if I might, Mr. Comey. Current FBI Director Wray has said the FBI has not seen evidence of any coordinated voter fraud effort. Over 30 million people voted by mail or absentee four years ago in 2016. In your time as FBI director, did you see any evidence of widespread or coordinated voter fraud?
Mr. Comey: (02:14:51)
Chris Coons: (02:14:52)
And last night, repeated allegations were made by President Trump of mail-in voting being subject to widespread fraud. Do comments like this work to undermine a democratic legitimacy and in any way serve the interests of our opponents who are seeking to spread disinformation and attack mail in voting?
Mr. Comey: (02:15:14)
Well, I don’t think I’m qualified to respond on the particular comment. Obviously our adversaries, especially Russia, have as their primary goal dividing us and dirtying up the Democratic enterprise.
Chris Coons: (02:15:28)
Let me just say to the core issues that have been discussed and debated here, I’ve joined Senators, Leahy and Lee in an amendment to try and promote FISA reform. I agree that we need our FISA process to be sound, to be transparent, to be something the American people can believe in. And I think the Inspector General’s recommendations address some of these key issues and give us a roadmap for a number of the things that have to be addressed. But I also, frankly, am concerned about the way in which the current FBI director has been under relentless criticism and assault. And there seems, to me, to be from our president, a politicization, a backwards looking series of attacks. Let me just ask you a few questions about that, if I might. President Trump has repeatedly referred to something he calls Obamagate. He has said it is worse than Watergate. Are you aware of any evidence that President Obama or former Vice President Biden has committed any federal crime?
Mr. Comey: (02:16:27)
Chris Coons: (02:16:28)
Did you ever see any evidence that President Obama or Vice President Biden targeted any individual for investigation based on politics or their political views?
Mr. Comey: (02:16:38)
Chris Coons: (02:16:39)
There was a January 5th, 2017 meeting at The White House. Was Peter Strzok at that meeting in The Oval Office?
Mr. Comey: (02:16:45)
Chris Coons: (02:16:47)
And at the meeting, did either President Obama or Vice President Biden suggest prosecuting Lieutenant General Flynn under The Logan Act? Would remember that if that suggestion had been made to you?
Mr. Comey: (02:16:58)
I would remember it because it would be highly inappropriate for a President or Vice President to suggest prosecution or investigation of anyone. And it did not happen.
Chris Coons: (02:17:08)
At that meeting on January 5th at The White House, and this is in 2017, did President Obama give any indication that he wanted to direct the course of a criminal investigation into General Flynn’s conduct?
Mr. Comey: (02:17:22)
Chris Coons: (02:17:23)
And when you left the meeting, did you believe politics would play a role in the Flynn case?
Mr. Comey: (02:17:29)
No. I knew it would play no role.
Chris Coons: (02:17:31)
So during your time at the FBI under the previous administration, were you ever pressured to take an investigative step or support a conclusion that was not based on the facts in the wall?
Mr. Comey: (02:17:43)
Chris Coons: (02:17:44)
But only weeks after his inauguration, my recollection is President Trump asked you to drop the investigation into Lieutenant General Flynn and to let this go. Is that accurate?
Mr. Comey: (02:17:56)
Yes, February 14.
Chris Coons: (02:17:59)
So my concern, broadly speaking, is that we have seen politics injected into our justice system countless times over the last four years. Is there any doubt in your mind that Lieutenant General Flynn lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russians?
Mr. Comey: (02:18:15)
None. I saw publicly, he pled guilty to it twice.
Chris Coons: (02:18:19)
Can you explain why lying to the FBI strikes at the heart of our criminal justice system?
Mr. Comey: (02:18:24)
Because the FBI’s ability to figure out what’s going on in a criminal investigation or a counter-intelligence investigation is at the core of our ability to protect the American people. If we don’t hear the truth, see the truth, gather the truth, we can’t achieve the mission.
Chris Coons: (02:18:39)
There’s been a lot of discussion today about the so-called Steele dossier. Did the Crossfire Hurricane team rely on information from that dossier in its decision to open the investigation?
Mr. Comey: (02:18:52)
No, none at all.
Chris Coons: (02:18:53)
Was the team even aware of the information when they opened the investigation?
Mr. Comey: (02:18:58)
No, I think it was two months later that the Steele information came to the Crossfire Hurricane team.
Chris Coons: (02:19:04)
So when you said earlier that this was an appropriately predicated and opened investigation, it’s because of that difference in time and sources and the basis on which those decisions were made?
Mr. Comey: (02:19:15)
Correct. As the Inspector General found in opening it, we complied with the policies and regulations that govern the opening of a counter-intelligence investigation. We should have been fired. There ought to have been a hearing if we didn’t investigate, given the evidence that we were given by a friendly foreign government.
Chris Coons: (02:19:33)
And last, when he testified to this committee in June, Rod Rosenstein suggested he did not believe that any of the 199 criminal counts that resulted from the Mueller investigation relied on information provided by Steele. Do you have any reason to doubt that assessment?
Mr. Comey: (02:19:51)
I have no reason to doubt that.
Chris Coons: (02:19:53)
I just want to thank you for your appearance before us today. There are many urgent things we could and should be working on together. It is my hope we will get back to them. I do agree, the FISA process requires transparency and improvement. But frankly, I think there’s a connect the dots game going on here that doesn’t connect. And I am gravely concerned about ongoing efforts to denigrate and politicize the FBI today. Thank you, Mr. Comey for your testimony today.
Senator Graham: (02:20:22)
Thank you. We’ll come back at 12:45 and give the witness a break. And see you at 12:45, Senator Hawley will be next.
Senator Graham: (02:20:31)
Lindsey Graham: (02:42:35)
Thank you. Appreciate the break, Mr. Comey, are you with us?
Mr. Comey: (02:42:43)
Lindsey Graham: (02:42:44)
Okay. Thank you very much. Was that a sufficient break for you? You’re okay?
Mr. Comey: (02:42:49)
Yes. Thanks very much.
Lindsey Graham: (02:42:50)
Thank you very much, Senator Hawley.
Josh Hawley: (02:42:53)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, we’ve heard a number of things this morning. We’ve heard you say a number of times that the OIG found problems in FISA applications across the board, but of course it was only this FISA applications, these involving Carter Page that you signed off on, that drew an unprecedented rebuke from the FISA court, which I’m sure you remember. Let me just quote from that FISA court order, the frequency and seriousness of these errors in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications. Do you remember that that order from the court?
Mr. Comey: (02:43:37)
It came after I left as I recall, but I remember reading about it. Yes.
Josh Hawley: (02:43:41)
Have you ever known the court to issue any other such order that you’re familiar with?
Mr. Comey: (02:43:45)
Josh Hawley: (02:43:45)
You have known the court to issue orders rebuking the FBI for misleading it in the past?
Mr. Comey: (02:43:50)
Yes. Shortly before 9/11, there was significant criticism by the FISA court of the quality of FISA applications.
Josh Hawley: (02:43:58)
The court said that the frequency and seriousness of the errors in this in applications led it to doubt the reliability of all FBI applications. In all other cases?
Mr. Comey: (02:44:07)
I don’t remember the exact words but something similar. As I recall, they banned at least one agent from appearing in FISA applications.
Josh Hawley: (02:44:13)
Yeah, well that’s not what they did here. I mean, in this case, the FISA court said that they had reason to doubt the reliability of FBI applications across cases because of the level of misleading information that you personally signed off on. Do you regret your role in this unprecedented misleading of a FISA court?
Mr. Comey: (02:44:33)
I don’t regret my role. I regret that it happened.
Josh Hawley: (02:44:35)
Mr. Comey: (02:44:37)
Josh Hawley: (02:44:38)
Why don’t you regret your role in the unprecedented misleading of a FISA court?
Mr. Comey: (02:44:43)
Well, I regret that the FBI supplied information to a FISA court that was inaccurate, incomplete, and should have been updated.
Josh Hawley: (02:44:50)
Do you regret that you signed off on it?
Mr. Comey: (02:44:53)
Well, I regret that it happened and the only reason I’m hesitating is what the FBI director does in connection with a FISA is actually very narrow. But put that to the side. It’s important that it be accurate and it wasn’t and I regret that very much.
Josh Hawley: (02:45:05)
Listen, you said this several times. I frankly don’t understand it. The certification that the statute requires is a certification by the FBI director as to the contents of the application. You signed off on it. The FISA court said it was so misleading that it now had reason to doubt the FBI’s truthfulness across the board. Are you responsible for these certifications or not?
Mr. Comey: (02:45:31)
I don’t believe you’re accurately describing the statutory requirement for certification.
Josh Hawley: (02:45:34)
Are you responsible for these certifications are not? Answer my question.
Mr. Comey: (02:45:38)
I signed certifications on every FISA that the FBI sends over to the FISA court, including these.
Josh Hawley: (02:45:44)
Are you responsible for this misleading evidence given to the FISA court? Yes or no?
Mr. Comey: (02:45:52)
Yes, in the sense of command responsibility. No, in that I didn’t have personal knowledge that would have led me to understand that we weren’t supplying complete information.
Josh Hawley: (02:46:00)
Let’s talk about what personal knowledge you have. When you certified the first Carter Page FISA application, you believed that Mr. Steele was working for the Democratic Party, didn’t you?
Mr. Comey: (02:46:08)
I don’t remember whether I knew the Democratic Party. I knew that he was working for political opponents of President Trump.
Josh Hawley: (02:46:15)
Now let me remind you of your testimony under oath on December 7th, 2018 before the House Oversight Committee in which you said and I quote, “Steele was retained by Republicans adverse to Mr. Trump during the primary season. And then his work was underwritten after that by Democrats opposed to Mr. Trump during the general election season.” Now, surely you recognized at the time that relying so heavily on a biased source would undermine public confidence in the FBI’s activities, didn’t you?
Mr. Comey: (02:46:44)
No, I did not.
Josh Hawley: (02:46:45)
Why wouldn’t you? You told the same committee, the House Oversight Committee, December 7, 2018. And I quote, “When you’re the leader of a justice agency, that’s you, the appearance of bias is as important as the existence of actual bias. You also said a reasonable appearance of bias can corrupt the American people’s faith in your work, as much as actual bias can.” Do you stand by those remarks?
Mr. Comey: (02:47:10)
Very much so.
Josh Hawley: (02:47:11)
But you nevertheless allowed the Democratic Party to leverage the federal government’s most invasive intelligence capabilities against President Trump. You personally signed off on it. You also knew at the time that other officials in the Department of Justice had serious concerns. Do you know who Stuart Evans is?
Mr. Comey: (02:47:30)
Josh Hawley: (02:47:31)
Mr. Evans is a lawyer in the National Security Division of DOJ under President Obama, wasn’t he?
Mr. Comey: (02:47:35)
I think he was- I don’t know for sure. I think he was a career official at the Department of Justice involved in the-
Josh Hawley: (02:47:41)
He was a lawyer in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. Before the first Carter Page FISA application, Mr. Evans raised serious concerns about the ostensibly partisan nature of the information provided by Mr. Steele, did he not?
Mr. Comey: (02:47:56)
I don’t know.
Josh Hawley: (02:47:57)
He did. The inspector general reports it on pages, 136 and 137 of this report. You knew of those concerns before you signed off on the FISA application, didn’t you?
Mr. Comey: (02:48:09)
I don’t think I knew before. I remember reading the footnote that attempted to inform the court of potential bias.
Josh Hawley: (02:48:14)
No, actually the inspector general found on page 139 of the report and I quote, “On October 12th, 2016, Evan’s concerns about Steele were briefed to Comey.” Yet you signed off knowing that the research was funded by the Democratic Party, knowing that senior officials in the Department of Justice National Security Division had serious concerns. You signed off nonetheless. Let’s talk about what else you knew or didn’t know. When you certified that FISA application, did you know the allegations in the Steele dossier came from sub sources, not from Steele’s own knowledge?
Mr. Comey: (02:48:52)
I believe I did know. He had a network of sources and sub sources, correct.
Josh Hawley: (02:48:56)
Did you know who this primary sub source was?
Mr. Comey: (02:48:59)
Josh Hawley: (02:49:00)
Did you ask who the primary sub source was?
Mr. Comey: (02:49:02)
Josh Hawley: (02:49:03)
Did you ask the FBI to take any steps to identify that source before submitting this application to the FISA court?
Mr. Comey: (02:49:10)
I don’t know whether I asked. I knew there was an effort underway to try to replicate Steele’s source network so we could figure out what to make of Steele’s reporting.
Josh Hawley: (02:49:18)
What the inspector general concluded was that Comey told us, this is page 153, that the application seemed factually and legally sufficient when he read it and he had no questions or concerns before he signed it. Surely you realize that the source’s identity and his motives, this sub source who we now know may well have been a Russian agent, that that would affect his credibility. Correct?
Mr. Comey: (02:49:43)
I thought it was important that we were informing the court of any potential bias from any source. I remember reading language in that initial filing that addressed that potential bias issue with respect to the Steele reporting.
Josh Hawley: (02:49:57)
I’m sorry, your testimony now is that you informed the court of potential problems with the sub source, political motivations, connections to foreign governments? The FISA court was informed about that?
Mr. Comey: (02:50:08)
No, I’m sorry. I understood your question to be about whether we informed the court about potential bias in Steele’s reporting. I didn’t know the identity or any information about sub sources.
Josh Hawley: (02:50:17)
You personally authorized on an unprecedented surveillance on an individual associated with the presidential campaign during that campaign’s ongoing time periods. October of 2016, you signed off personally on two further applications based on information from a source that you believed, correctly, worked for the Democratic Party and the source’s information, it turns out, was coming from a suspected Russian agent. Yet you did nothing to try to verify any of this information. You brushed aside the concerns of high level national security lawyers at the Department of Justice. How are the American people to trust you or the FBI following abuses like this?
Mr. Comey: (02:51:02)
I disagree extensively with your predicate. I think the FBI is an organization that is honest, competent, independent, and also flawed because it’s made up of human beings.
Josh Hawley: (02:51:13)
I have to say, I’m not necessarily worried about the FBI as a whole. I’m worried about you. I’m worried about what you certified to a court that led the FISA court to conclude that it had been misled repeatedly. That due to the nature of those repeated misrepresentations, it could no longer trust what the Federal Bureau of Investigation agency you led, what it said in subsequent cases. That I suggest to you is an incredible dereliction of duty. Indeed, a betrayal of your responsibility as Director of the FBI.
Josh Hawley: (02:51:45)
If I could, Mr. Chairman, just one last thing I want to follow up on. The letter to Chairman Graham from John Ratcliffe, which I know you’ve seen Mr. Comey, as you mentioned it earlier. Mr. Ratcliffe says on 7 September, 2016, US intelligence officials forwarded an investigative referral to FBI director James Comey regarding US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning Donald Trump and Russian hackers, as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.” Did you open an investigation?
Mr. Comey: (02:52:22)
I don’t know what that refers to. As I said earlier, that does not ring any bells with me when I read that.
Josh Hawley: (02:52:26)
You did not receive any investigative referral of this nature?
Mr. Comey: (02:52:30)
I don’t remember it. I don’t remember receiving anything that’s described in that letter.
Josh Hawley: (02:52:35)
Okay. I have to say, Mr. Chairman, I realized my time has expired. I find it extraordinary that a referral from the IC to the FBI regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign and potential illicit activity received no attention from the FBI. So little attention the director doesn’t even recall it. Yet the director and others had plenty of time to go and seek surveillance warrants during an ongoing presidential campaign. Warrants so flawed that the FISA court has now said it can’t trust what the FBI says in future cases. This is an extraordinary abuse of power and it’s time we held people responsible for it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Lindsey Graham: (02:53:15)
Richard Blumenthal: (02:53:18)
Thanks Mr.. Chairman. Mr. Comey, thank you for being here today. Thank you for your service to our nation and thank you for your family’s as well. Your wife’s in particular. I think that this hearing is likely to attract as much attention and land with the same giant thud as the previous two hearings. Because the American people are really focused on the direct and imminent threats to our nation.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:53:53)
The pandemic continues to kill almost a thousand Americans a day due to the cruel indifference and callous neglect of this administration. People are continuing to lose jobs. Millions are unemployed, and our small businesses are struggling.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:54:15)
Here we are re-litigating a controversy that is four years old, involving an investigation into Russian interference that occurred in 2016. When the really imminent and urgent threat is Russian interference ongoing at this very moment.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:54:41)
The security center director William Evanina warned publicly, “Russia continues spread dis-information in the U that is designed to undermine our democracy.” I can say that the information we’ve received in briefings is absolutely chilling. We’ve received that information in confidential classified briefings that I wish could be made known to the American public with the same kind of alacrity that documents have been declassified in this proceeding.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:55:28)
The American people deserve to know about that threat, which is ongoing. They also need to know about the threat of white supremacists. The current director of the FBI has said, again publicly, racially motivated violent extremists are a “national threat priority.” A national threat priority. A security danger to this country.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:56:04)
They are the same white supremacist that the President of the United States last night said should stand by. That statement is one of the most abhorrent and horrifying in my lifetime. Mr. Comey, in your time as FBI director, did you see an uptick in white supremacist activities in the United States? And if so, with what kinds of consequences?
Mr. Comey: (02:56:45)
Yes, it is my recollection and the consequences were potential acts of violence, intimidation of people of color, all the things that come with a criminal group with an aim that is at its heart evil racism.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:56:59)
Did you regard it as a national security threat in the way that Mr. Wray has articulated?
Mr. Comey: (02:57:07)
Yes. It was assigned to our counter terrorism division, which focuses on national security threats.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:57:12)
Do you think that more resources should be devoted to this threat?
Mr. Comey: (02:57:18)
Hard for me to answer since I’ve been gone now for close to four years. You can never have enough people with eyes on a problem that poses a violent threat the way these groups do.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:57:30)
I’ve introduced a measure called the No Hate Act along with a number of my colleagues, Senators Durbin, Hirono, Warner, Kaine, Gillibrand, and others. There’s a measure on the House side as well that would seek to address this growing imminent threat of white supremacist’s impact and violence, rather than telling them to stand by.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:57:58)
I commend you and the current director, Mr. Wray, for focusing on it. I want to turn to the statements that earlier you made in response to Senator Durbin’s inquiry about the $421 million in debt that has been disclosed as owing by the president. You’ve done a number of national security background checks. In the course of those background checks, my understanding is that a standard question relates to debt owed by individuals. Is that correct?
Mr. Comey: (02:58:42)
Yes, that’s correct.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:58:44)
The reason for that question is to indicate and disclose whether or not that individual has concealed any of that debt, correct?
Mr. Comey: (02:58:55)
Correct. One aspect of exploring their financial situation is that.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:59:00)
Why is it that those facts are important?
Mr. Comey: (02:59:06)
Because deciding whether someone is trustworthy with national security information involves understanding whether they’re vulnerable to exploitation by an adversary via a criminal group. If somebody owes a lot of money and is trying to hide that, that allows adversaries to gain leverage over that person and maybe force them to do something they shouldn’t do. It’s a tool we use to try and recruit foreign government officials to become assets of the United States government. So adversaries do the same to us.
Richard Blumenthal: (02:59:36)
The President of United States, of course, is not subject to any background security investigation, as most high ranking officials are. It is the concealment of that debt. Not only its gargantuan size, but the hiding of it, that potentially makes him vulnerable to blackmail or extortion or other improper influence, correct?
Mr. Comey: (03:00:04)
That’s right. Even if it were fully transparent, there’d still be a concern about vulnerability. That the adversary could try and cut a secret deal to reduce the debt, even if the public knows about the debt.
Richard Blumenthal: (03:00:15)
Any individual in a position of responsibility who is concealing a debt as well as the debt itself, makes him or her more likely to be an asset under the influence or subject to extortion by a foreign government, correct?
Mr. Comey: (03:00:35)
It creates a serious counter-intelligence concern that you’d want to address in deciding on a clearance suitability for an employee.
Richard Blumenthal: (03:00:43)
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Comey.
Lindsey Graham: (03:00:45)
Thank you. Senator Tillis, just to follow up on Senator Blumenthal’s questions. Would you be concerned about a counterintelligence threat or a compromise if a candidate’s family member was receiving millions of dollars from a corrupt company in the Ukraine? That a candidate’s family member was receiving millions of dollars from the Deputy Mayor of Moscow. That a candidate’s family member was getting a million and a half dollar investment portfolio from the China Bank? Would that concern you?
Mr. Comey: (03:01:22)
If I were still the FBI, I’d be concerned about any effort to exert leverage over a government official, potential government official, or someone close to them in an effort to influence them.
Lindsey Graham: (03:01:33)
Thank you very much. Senator Tillis.
Richard Blumenthal: (03:01:36)
Chairman, if I may just clarify. The question you’ve just raised is a hypothetical relating to a current non-government official. What we have here and what the records reveal quite starkly is that the President of the United States, our commander-in-chief, is vulnerable to leverage and manipulation and even possible blackmail.
Lindsey Graham: (03:02:04)
I understand your point and you have right to make it. The point I was making is very real. It’s not a hypothetical. These things happened. Senator Tillis.
Thom Tillis: (03:02:13)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Comey for being here. Mr. Comey, I’m not going to ask some questions that have already been asked by prosecutors and lawyers whose preambles and predicates you have rejected. Instead of getting a non-answer, I want to go more from a management perspective. We had General Horowitz before this committee. Inspector General Horowitz and he identified, as you’re aware, the 17 errors and omissions. As I look at some of the errors and omissions, do you think. We know one, that was identified as a crime. What do we do with the remainder? I mean, do you accept General Horowitz’s reports and his findings? Do you think that they were valid?
Mr. Comey: (03:03:00)
I do. I hope that it was followed by a root cause analysis, which any enterprise ought to engage in and figure out. Exactly why did this happen and how should we change to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Thom Tillis: (03:03:09)
Well, let’s say that you came in as the new director of the FBI after the prior director had their organization study, we found these errors and omissions. If it didn’t rise to a level of a crime, in your opinion, do you think it at least should have prompted terminations and disciplinary action on the part of.
Thom Tillis: (03:03:30)
These are all highly trained, highly educated, highly experienced professionals in the FBI. By the way, the majority of them are great people, but it’s a big organization. What about the remainder? I mean, if you’re the new director you’ve gotten this report from the inspector general, what do you do? What is your remediation plan? I’ve heard you say that you would want to streamline the FISA process. I may get a question in on that. What would you be doing right now to address the 16 other errors and omissions that occurred prior to your watch?
Mr. Comey: (03:04:04)
I’d be doing two things. Looking wide and looking narrow. Wide to see what the systematic problems are. Looking narrow to try and understand. When these employees made these decisions, what were they thinking? Severe misconduct turns on whether someone was intentionally engaging in wrongdoing. There’s a range of misconduct short of that. You’d want to assess that with respect to everybody with personal knowledge, and then make your judgements based on that.
Thom Tillis: (03:04:29)
You were quoted. I want to read this so I don’t get your words wrong. You were quoted as saying the FISA process was followed and that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by the DOJ and the FBI. You went on to say the notion that FISA was abused is nonsense. Do you still stand by that?
Mr. Comey: (03:04:46)
I don’t. I don’t think it was abused, but I think I was wrong in having confidence in the FISA process and in the layers of oversight and review. I was too confident in this extensive, really very complicated system.
Thom Tillis: (03:05:00)
What would have prompted you on the front end to think that it was okay? I think that you already said in prior testimony that there were things in the FISA process that should have been approved. Why under your watch weren’t we already trying to do those kinds of changes?
Mr. Comey: (03:05:15)
Well, my confidence was based on the fact that it was regular oversight by the Department of Justice, regular audits of our cases. Then I also understood that the complexity of the process. Agents would complain to me. Everywhere I went, it’s too hard to get a FISA. Too many people have to check off on it, too many people have to review my work. Knowing the process, which included regular audits, gave me confidence as a business leader, a government leader, that we have a sound healthy process, and that was wrong.
Thom Tillis: (03:05:47)
Mr. Comey, one of the things that worry me about this is we’re talking about an investigation of someone who was running for President of the United States. I, like Senator Sasse, had resisted some of the changes that my colleague Senator Lee was putting forward. I felt like I had confidence in a process that clearly I shouldn’t have.
Thom Tillis: (03:06:11)
Even the FISA court has expressed their concerns with the information presented to them. You know what I really worry about, I worry about people that would never have a hearing on their case before the Senate judiciary committee. I mean, we’re here because we’re talking about a high profile elected official, but do you have any concerns that the same sorts of lapses that were used here? I do think people should be held accountable and prosecuted. Do you have any concerns if we go back over the course of the FISA process, that we’ve innocent people out there subjected to the same process and potentially wrongfully received a warrant and surveillance?
Mr. Comey: (03:06:52)
Sure. It’s a reasonable concern. The Inspector General did a look across dozens of cases and found mistakes, I think he said in every case. That’s a serious concern that there’s a systemic problem. Now that doesn’t mean that the warrants wouldn’t have been issued otherwise, but that’s besides the point. There was an issue. If I were still there, it would be something I’d be thinking about every day. I suspect Chris Wray is.
Thom Tillis: (03:07:14)
Well, Mr. Comey, I’ve got another question. I remember Inspector General Horowitz. I ask a series of questions because in the report, when he talked about a possible political motivation for the behavior of some of those involved and identified in the investigation. I asked him about, did he see any evidence of a political motivation? He said that was murky.
Thom Tillis: (03:07:39)
If you’ve gone through it, and I’m sure that you have, do you believe that this whole process was absent any political bias against the President of the United States? That it was just void of political bias, just a paperwork error or a business process that needed to be streamlined?
Mr. Comey: (03:07:54)
Thom Tillis: (03:07:55)
How do you feel about that murky description that General Horowitz gave to the motivations of people? We’ve seen all the emails and the communications, viva la resistance. How do you feel about that? Do you honestly think that this process at the operator level was truly devoid of any political bias?
Mr. Comey: (03:08:17)
I do. I’m not just saying that. I’m saying that because I read Horowitz’s 400-page report, where I think the most important finding is in case opening and the conduct and the investigative decisions, there was no evidence found of political bias-
Thom Tillis: (03:08:30)
You don’t think it’s- I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Mr. Comey: (03:08:34)
If Horowitz finds something, he knows how to say it. He found the opposite. That’s why I say that.
Thom Tillis: (03:08:41)
Why would Inspector General Horowitz, who I think is a very capable Inspector General, go so far as to say it was murky? You say that there’s no doubt, but we have him say it was murky based on the same information that I read in the report.
Mr. Comey: (03:08:59)
I don’t know where that, I’m sorry. I don’t know where the murky comment comes from. I’m talking about the report itself, which I’ve read very carefully a number of times. He makes that finding. We found no evidence of political bias in any phase of this investigation.
Thom Tillis: (03:09:13)
Okay. Just final question, Mr. Chair. I did start about 45 seconds late. I know Hunter Biden was appointed to Burisma in 2014, the board, while you were the FBI director and Vice President Biden was in an office. Did you have any concerns about that with or express any concerns with Vice President Biden?
Mr. Comey: (03:09:40)
I’d never learned anything about it. I didn’t know anything about it when I was FBI director.
Thom Tillis: (03:09:46)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Lindsey Graham: (03:09:52)
Could I see that, please? Senator Hirono would be next. I just want to make sure. Senator Hirono.
Mazie Hirono: (03:10:13)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The chairman noted that he is committed to trying to save the FISA system. In fact, IG Horowitz dug very deep into the crossfire hurricane investigation and in a 400-page report, as Mr. Comey noted, he found no evidence of political bias. He did note a number of changes that should be made to the FISA application process.
Mazie Hirono: (03:10:39)
In fact, FBI Director Wray is doing those changes. If we are committed to making changes to the application process, and we all share that concern, the hearing today should be focused on whether or not the FBI in fact is making those changes that inspector Horowitz flagged out in his very thorough investigation.
Mazie Hirono: (03:11:02)
Mr. Chairman, we understand that DNI Ratcliffe issued a statement claiming that the declassified information, selective declassification, declassified information, he released yesterday about Hillary Clinton from Russian sources, “Is not Russian disinformation.” Yet he acknowledged that the information he released may be, “A fabrication.”
Mazie Hirono: (03:11:28)
I find it just amazing that we have DNI Ratcliffe issuing this kind of information practically on the eve of an election, making an allegation, in fact, pushing out Russian disinformation, which he acknowledges. Mr. Chairman, I think we should have him before this committee so we can question him.
Mazie Hirono: (03:11:49)
The intelligence community, Special Counsel Mueller, and the bipartisan Senate intelligence committee all found that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Mr. Chairman, you have acknowledged that. We all know this. We also know that the-
Mazie Hirono: (03:12:03)
We all know this, and we also know that the interference was in favor of Donald Trump. They clearly did not give any weight to Russia’s effort to smear Hillary Clinton, and this committee should not either. More important, I do associate myself with the comments made by the Democrats on this committee, who are wondering, along with the American people, why we are going over the same thing that we’ve already gone over, that it has to do with the premises underlying the Crossfire Hurricane investigation?
Mazie Hirono: (03:12:41)
We know this is being done, somehow, to bolster Donald Trump’s reelection campaign through innuendo and misinformation, which even today Russia is pushing up. We should be concerned about what’s going on in the 2020 election, and I have to say, thanks to President Trump and my Republican colleagues, here we are, sitting here. Millions of people are without healthcare. Millions of people are without jobs, and rather than dealing with the very real concerns of the American people in the midst of a pandemic, we are having this hearing to go over ground that we’ve already covered.
Mazie Hirono: (03:13:24)
Let me get to some questions to Mr. Comey. I noted that DNI Ratcliffe released an allegation that he obtained from Russian sources, which he himself admitted as much, not reliable. Mr. Comey, as the former FBI director, do you think it is appropriate for DNI Ratcliffe to release this information right before the election?
Mr. Comey: (03:13:49)
It’s hard for me to comment, because I don’t fully understand what he’s doing there. The goal of the intelligence community, which includes the FBI, should be to stay out of influencing elections except to discharge our duty, to protect our democracy and ensure that foreign adversaries aren’t operating in the United States.
Mazie Hirono: (03:14:06)
Mr. Comey, you know that what Russia is doing right now is to use this kind of disinformation to interfere with our elections. They’re engaging in malign foreign influence as described by FBI Director Wray. I’d say putting out this kind of information that makes a certain kind of allegations about Hillary Clinton is the kind of in disinformation that Russia is engaging in right now.
Mazie Hirono: (03:14:36)
I know you’re aware that Russia is very good at using social media, the use of proxies, state media, online journals, etc. In fact, they’re really focused on those kinds of interference at this moment. The kind of information that DNI Ratcliffe released, would that be consistent with Russia’s disinformation efforts, Mr. Comey?
Mr. Comey: (03:15:03)
I don’t know enough to say, Senator.
Mazie Hirono: (03:15:07)
I’d say we can draw our own conclusions. Earlier this month, one of the top prosecutors working on US attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of Russia’s probe resigned. She reportedly left out of concern that the team was pressured for political reasons to issue a report before completing its work. Just last week we saw Attorney General Barr disclose previously classified evidence relating to Mr. Durham’s ongoing investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, a release designed to bolster President Trump’s reelection chances.
Mazie Hirono: (03:15:44)
We also saw the Justice Department coordinate with the White House on multiple press releases about a just opened investigation into allegedly discarded ballots in Pennsylvania. You testified just now that these actions raised concerns about bias, appearance of bias, and here we have the attorney general making these kinds of disclosures. Do you think that these actions reflect a bias or appearance of bias on the part of Attorney General Barr?
Mr. Comey: (03:16:19)
It’s difficult for me to say about the particulars that I don’t know well enough, but I can say generally Attorney General Barr has embraced a concept for his role that I believe is at odds with the nature of that department. It needs to be [crosstalk 03:16:33] by all Americans.
Mazie Hirono: (03:16:34)
There’ve been all kinds of articles about Attorney General Barr’s polarization of the Attorney General’s office. Do you think that is a concern for all of us and why?
Mr. Comey: (03:16:45)
Yes. It ought to be a concern for all of us because we need that institution. We need that institution to be seen as separate from our tribal warfare, because it has to be trusted by jurors and cops and witnesses and judges of all political stripes. We have to be seen as the Department of Justice is outside of all of that. When the attorney general starts acting like the personal lawyer for the president, it threatens that, and that is a priceless thing that’s under threat.
Mazie Hirono: (03:17:12)
We’ve already seen a number of the career professionals at the DOJ resigning, even though, I want to acknowledge all of the professionals who continue to do their jobs in the DOJ. Just one more question, Mr. Chairman.
Mazie Hirono: (03:17:25)
You’ve been asked a number of questions about the $400 million that president Trump owes. How important is it that the American public should know who that money is owed to, and do you think that we should require all presidential candidates to disclose significant sums of money that they owe to entities or even countries?
Mr. Comey: (03:17:47)
My opinion on both of those questions is worth no more than any other American’s. We should all want to understand what’s going on with our leaders so we can make a sound choice when we vote in November, and I’ll just leave it there.
Mazie Hirono: (03:18:00)
I think you testified it’s particularly important for those of us who hold offices of public trust to disclose those to whom we all large sums of money, because we are then opening ourselves up to various influences that will not be good for our country. Thank you very much.
Lindsey Graham: (03:18:18)
Thank you. I just want to make a brief comment, and we’ll go to Senator Ernst. As to the Ratcliffe revelations, why do they matter? I don’t know how accurate the underlying intelligence is. I know that people have said it wasn’t Russian disinformation, but is it true or not, is not the question for me. The question is how can it be that on September 7, 2016, the intelligence community asked the director of the FBI, the assistant director of counter-intelligence Peter Strzok, to look into the regarding us presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hacking hampering US elections, as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail email server.
Lindsey Graham: (03:19:10)
The only thing I’m suggesting is that’s a pretty big deal. Everything Trump has been looked at with Russia, apparently nobody looked at this, apparently this was just swept under the rug. The point we’re trying to make here is there is a double standard. It’s obvious as night and day, and this is, if anything, the smoking gun.
Lindsey Graham: (03:19:33)
Joni Ernst: (03:19:35)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. Director Comey, and this is for everyone watching as well, FISA warrants aren’t just the normal, run-of-the-mill search warrants, they seek to access information that we consider most private, and when talking about the Carter Page investigation, the Steele Dossier was the basis for this FISA warrant, and no one’s doubting that.
Joni Ernst: (03:20:04)
The Steele dossier is, of course, the opposition research report compiled by Christopher Steele, who was hired by Fusion GPS acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign, a dossier that was essentially opposition research on Donald Trump. We thought it was just that until last week, when Attorney General Barr authorized the declassification of a specific footnote in Inspector General’s report on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation from late last year. That’s the letter that was dated September 24, 2020.
Joni Ernst: (03:20:50)
The declassification of that footnote revealed something more disturbing about Steele Dossier, and that footnote revealed that the primary sub source of the Steele Dossier was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation between the years of 2009 and 2011, due to their apparent ties to Russia. The same document that alleged then-candidate Trump was a Russian spy was funded by political opponents and researched by a suspected Russian operative.
Joni Ernst: (03:21:27)
The FBI bought it hook, line and sinker, or at least they really wanted to. It gets worse from there though. During the investigation into that sub source, it was revealed that they had reached out to individuals about to join the Obama administration and made them an offer, made them an offer. They could make a “little extra money,” if they had access to classified information. Thankfully, those people reported this encounter.
Joni Ernst: (03:22:14)
An associate of that sub source also stated that they persistently asked about their knowledge of a particular military vessel. Again, that encounter, thankfully, was reported. This sub source was in contact with a known Russian intelligence officer and was invited to the Russian Embassy. The FBI knew all of this when they sought the first renewal of the Carter Page FISA application, unlike those other people who reported their strange encounters with this sub source, what exactly did the FBI do? What did they do?
Joni Ernst: (03:23:02)
They never divided the information to the FISA Court, not one lick of it. The FBI side signed off on a violation of Carter Page’s privacy, using reports that would normally be used to create a 30-second political ad, that were compiled by someone who is likely an actual Russian spy.
Joni Ernst: (03:23:28)
That’s not even to speak of the noted inconsistencies that so many of my other colleagues have talked about between the reporting in the Steele Dossier, and the information that the sub source provided to Steele himself, inconsistencies that the Crossfire Hurricane team continued to rely upon when seeking renewed FISA warrants on Carter Page.
Joni Ernst: (03:23:56)
Director Comey, according to Peter Strzok, you were briefed on Steele’s reporting and okayed the Crossfire Hurricane team’s approach to use Steele in the investigation. Do you recall being told about the counter-intelligence investigation against this primary sub source?
Mr. Comey: (03:24:21)
I do not.
Joni Ernst: (03:24:24)
Do you believe that this information would have been relevant information for the Director of the FBI to have received?
Mr. Comey: (03:24:37)
I don’t know the answer to that, maybe at some point it would definitely be important for the team to consider whether it made the sub source less credible or more credible. I can see it cutting both ways.
Joni Ernst: (03:24:46)
That’s pretty pertinent information when you’re authorizing FISA warrants. I would want to know what are the sub sources motives? You don’t think that’s relevant information?
Mr. Comey: (03:24:59)
Oh no. I thought you were asking whether it was relevant for them to tell the director. I’m not writing the FISA affidavit. I’m not investigating the case. It’s important for the people running the case to think, does the fact that a sub source has connections to Russia, make him more credible or less credible in reporting on Russia? They’d want to wrestle with that and decide what to do with it.
Joni Ernst: (03:25:20)
As the director of the FBI, you were signing off on a FISA warrant, that application. I do think it’s information that should be provided to you as the Director of the FBI. Do you believe that the Department of Justice and the FBI have a duty of candor to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?
Mr. Comey: (03:25:47)
Yes, very much.
Joni Ernst: (03:25:49)
Do you believe they have a duty to present this type of exculpatory evidence to the court?
Mr. Comey: (03:25:58)
I think they have a duty consistent with that duty of candor to present a complete picture, good and bad, of all of their information, so that if they have exculpatory information, they ought to supply it.
Joni Ernst: (03:26:07)
Yes, they do. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re watching this at home, and I do think that people are interested in this, they want to know and believe in the FBI, they want to know and believe in the DOJ. For those folks that are watching at home, this isn’t about political retribution or sour grapes. This is about a coordinated effort by your government, our government, to influence politics using compromised foreign intelligence actors. I think this is a very, very sad example of what could absolutely go wrong in our government. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Lindsey Graham: (03:27:01)
Cory Booker: (03:27:14)
Cory Booker: (03:27:18)
Check one, two. Got it. Thank you, sir. I think it would have been here long enough to get this to work.
Cory Booker: (03:27:27)
I still find myself concerned about the priorities of this committee, given that elections have already begun, and we have a real urgent ongoing crisis. Director Comey,, this committee has already spent a lot of time investigating an investigation that’s already been investigated and I’m pretty confident will continue to be investigated. It’s been cleared by the Justice Department’s Inspector General already, and I understand and honor the interest to continue with the investigation of the investigation. I just really think that given the existential threat to our current election processes, the dangers that we have, the real substantive dangerous of imminent violence, the real substantive dangerous of the undermining of an ongoing election, that we should be focused on that. I want to switch gears and really focus in on what I think are alarming and disturbing comments made by President Trump last night, when he, yet again, refuse to condemn white supremacists and calling on one group to, “Stand back and stand by.”
Cory Booker: (03:28:41)
In August 2019. Director Comey, you published an op-ed in the New York Times about how President Trump was deliberately fanning the flames of racism in America. Here’s what you wrote, and if I can quote it to you, “Every American president, knowing what lies deep within our country, bears a unique responsibility to say loudly and consistently that white supremacy is illegitimate, that encouraging a politics of racial resentment can spawn violence, and that violence aimed at people by virtue of their skin color is terrorism.”
Cory Booker: (03:29:18)
Director Comey, what does it mean for the President of the United States to call on the Proud Boys, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group, that regularly expresses white nationalist views to, “stand back and stand by?”
Mr. Comey: (03:29:34)
It lifts the [inaudible 03:29:35] in the basement of our amazing country has always been a small amount of radioactive stew, and we’ve controlled that racist stew with law and with culture. When the President of the United States starts talking in that way about kind of group, he’s pulling out of that radioactive stew the control rods that we’ve used for 50 years to suppress racist violence. It is a deeply disturbing development, and I hope no matter what your politics are, you see it the same way.
Cory Booker: (03:30:02)
Just to put a sharp edge on this, sir, since 9/11, is it true that the majority of our domestic terrorists actions killing American lives, everywhere from a church in South Carolina to a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the majority of our murders, terroristic murders, in this country have been done by right-wing organizations?
Mr. Comey: (03:30:28)
That’s my understanding of the data.
Cory Booker: (03:30:29)
Domestic terrorism, domestic right-wing organizations, feeding hatred and bigotry. How do these shameful comments of the President of the United States, this outright refusal to condemn white supremacy, dangerous white supremacy, affect the psychology of groups like the Proud Boys and other violated extremist groups like them, other white nationalist groups, that we have seen conduct and carry out such violence? How does it affect the psychology of these groups?
Mr. Comey: (03:30:59)
It gives them license, and it makes them cool in the eyes of the people who make up that radioactive stew, and so it will attract more people to their warped view of the world and to their groups. It is a free pass to people that nobody wants in their communities, and I don’t know whether today the president has tried to correct what he said, but I would sure hope he would.
Cory Booker: (03:31:21)
Director Comey, you’re not alone. You are not the first FBI director nor the last FBI director to state plainly the dangers of white supremacy of this kind of violence. Your successor, FBI Director Christopher Wray, recently testified that, “Racially motivated violent extremism primarily carried out by white supremacists account for the majority of domestic terroristic threats.”
Cory Booker: (03:31:48)
This is a imminent threat, as a president seems to be calling to such groups to “stand by,” a president who has explicitly said, if he loses this election, it will be an illegitimate election, a president who has explicitly failed to commit himself to the peaceful transfer of power. How do president Trump’s statements about these groups affect the FBI’s ability to address this threat?
Mr. Comey: (03:32:22)
The FBI is fighting a fire of racist violence, and with words like that, the president is using a fire hose to spray gasoline on that fire, and as I… Maybe he misspoke. Maybe when he said stand down and standby, he meant something else. I sure hope for the sake of our whole country, he’ll say that today, what he really meant, and condemn these groups.
Cory Booker: (03:32:41)
But sir, do you see the connection to the election that is ongoing right now, and where we are less than 35 days away from that election? Do you have cause for, not just concern, but real alarm about these groups being incited and motivated by the words of the President of the United States towards violent actions?
Mr. Comey: (03:33:01)
Yes. That’s what I meant by using my only metaphor of spraying gasoline with a fire hose. It creates a dangerous blaze for all of us, not just people of color, but for every community in America that has these thugs and criminals have presence there, ought to worry about this. The President of the United States should be charged with tamping it down, not letting it free.
Cory Booker: (03:33:24)
Here we all heard in the United States of America where the current FBI director, where the past FBI director are both saying unequivocally that we are facing a threat of domestic terrorism, and clearly saying that the words of the President of the United States is not calming, is not unifying. It’s not bringing us together. It’s not condemning this. It’s actually inciting it. To use your words, that is spraying gasoline on the fires of hatred, going into an election where he is literally specifically talking to people and inviting them to potentially do things, like show up at polling sites to take action, to stand by.
Cory Booker: (03:34:16)
I don’t understand how we don’t see this as what it is, that we are on the verge of seeing a real threat to our fundamental democratic ideals and the smooth election processes to which have been, frankly, a hallmark of our country in our recent history. This is a dangerous moment in time. It is a frightening moment in time. We know from what happened in San Antonio, Texas, and a number of other occasions that people who are carrying out these actions are invoking the words of the President of the United States in their hateful, violent actions.
Cory Booker: (03:34:53)
This is a frightening time for America, and for us not to be assembling the united, bipartisan will of this judiciary committee or the bipartisan will of the United States Senate to act against this. When we have seen the agony of what happened in South Carolina in an African-American church, the agony of what happened in San Antonio Walmart, the agony of what happened in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and so many other occasions when hate crimes are on a rise. It is shameful that we are doing nothing.
Cory Booker: (03:35:31)
The only thing necessary for evil to be triumphant is for good people to do nothing. Your metaphor, the President of the United States last night, sprayed gasoline on the fires of hate. Our inaction right now on the eve of this contentious election means that we are standing by and letting this arsonist that is our president continue to menace the democracy we all cherish.
Cory Booker: (03:36:04)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Lindsey Graham: (03:36:05)
Thank you. The democracy we all cherish depends upon law and order. It depends on truth-telling. It depends upon the system being fair to those who are accused. It depends upon courts being informed of exculpatory information. That is what this hearing’s about, and we will continue with these type hearings to get to the bottom of how this got so off the rails, so it never happens again. Senator Kennedy.
John Kennedy: (03:36:40)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, have you ever heard the expression power doesn’t change people, it just unmasks them?
Mr. Comey: (03:36:59)
No, I don’t think so.
John Kennedy: (03:37:02)
How’s your book coming? How many copies have you sold?
Mr. Comey: (03:37:07)
I don’t know, a lot. I have a new one coming out in January about the Justice Department. I hope that’ll sell a lot too, but I don’t know. I don’t know the numbers.
John Kennedy: (03:37:18)
You enjoy attention, don’t you, Mr. Comey?
Mr. Comey: (03:37:22)
I do not. I enjoy attention from my family. I do not enjoy being recognized in public and my B-list celebrity fame, which I hope will go away very soon.
John Kennedy: (03:37:34)
Well, I’ll give you this. You have been an equal opportunity egotist. You have tried to screw both Trump and Clinton. let’s talk about Clinton first. When you were head of the FBI, you investigated Secretary Clinton and her emails and her server. Did you not?
Mr. Comey: (03:38:03)
The FBI team did while I was director, yes.
John Kennedy: (03:38:08)
You concluded that there were no criminal violations. Did you not?
Mr. Comey: (03:38:13)
There were no violations that a reasonable prosecutor would pursue.
John Kennedy: (03:38:18)
But you didn’t just issue a statement. You called a press conference, and you commented on her behavior. You said she was extremely careless, but in your opinion, there was no criminal intent. What were you thinking of? This was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Didn’t you realize that could have an impact on the investigation?
Mr. Comey: (03:38:54)
Investigation was ending at that point when I issued the summary of what we had concluded.
John Kennedy: (03:38:57)
I’m sorry, I misspoke. Didn’t you realize that could have an impact on the election?
Mr. Comey: (03:39:02)
Oh, potentially, sure, and I was trying to offer-
John Kennedy: (03:39:06)
Potentially? I’m sorry, go ahead.
Mr. Comey: (03:39:12)
I was trying to offer transparency about the justification for ending an investigation of intense interest to the American people in July, it’s July 5 of 2016.
John Kennedy: (03:39:21)
Well, you gave us a full dose of transparency, 11 days before the election, you sent a letter to Congress saying, oh, nevermind what I said in my press conference, my unprecedented press conference. I’m going to reopen the investigation. Didn’t you?
Mr. Comey: (03:39:36)
Correct. I didn’t say what you just said in the letter, but I told the chairs of the committees we’re reopening the investigation to examine some additional material.
John Kennedy: (03:39:46)
Then a few days later, right before the election, you said, nevermind, she didn’t do anything.
Mr. Comey: (03:39:57)
No. I said the examination was completed and it doesn’t change our view.
John Kennedy: (03:40:03)
We’re not talking about a parking ticket here. We’re talking about the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, the most powerful person in the free world, and you didn’t think that would have an impact on the election?
Mr. Comey: (03:40:18)
Oh, I knew it could potentially have an impact, no matter what we did.
John Kennedy: (03:40:21)
And you don’t like attention?
Mr. Comey: (03:40:25)
Yes. Both of those things are true at the same time. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions and you don’t like attention.
John Kennedy: (03:40:33)
Let’s talk about Trump. You didn’t really care about Dr. Page, did you? You want to Trump, didn’t you?
Mr. Comey: (03:40:42)
That is not accurate.
John Kennedy: (03:40:44)
Yeah. When you went and got these warrants to investigate Dr. Page, that you don’t remember much about, what did that allow you to do? Could you follow him around?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:04)
I didn’t, Senator, go get any warrants. The investigative team and the lawyers from DOJ got offered-
John Kennedy: (03:41:12)
Could you follow him around with the authority from FISA?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:17)
No. You didn’t need authority from FISA to follow someone around. This was about electronic surveillance.
John Kennedy: (03:41:22)
You could wiretap him?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:25)
It allowed you to collect electronic communications that he was engaged in.
John Kennedy: (03:41:28)
You can wiretap him?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:28)
Yeah, that’s the old fashioned term, but yes, it gave you the authority to collect electronic communications. Almost no one uses-
John Kennedy: (03:41:36)
Could you bug him?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:40)
I don’t think there was authority in the FISA application for a remote listening device.
John Kennedy: (03:41:44)
Could you open his mail?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:47)
I don’t think that was included either.
John Kennedy: (03:41:48)
But you don’t remember?
Mr. Comey: (03:41:51)
I don’t, it’s easy to figure out, but sitting here, I don’t know.
John Kennedy: (03:41:54)
Okay, that’s fair. You’re saying today that if you knew now what you didn’t know then, that you wouldn’t have signed the application?
Mr. Comey: (03:42:09)
I would not have signed the narrow certification that the FBI director has to give, but more importantly, I’d want to know from the team, how are you thinking about this? Why are these things not being included?
John Kennedy: (03:42:21)
You’re a smart guy. You’re an honors graduate, William and Mary, Chicago law school, and you don’t like attention. I’m trying to understand. Now you’re investigating the Republican nominee for President of United States.
Mr. Comey: (03:42:37)
John Kennedy: (03:42:37)
You’ve already finished with the Democratic nominee…
Mr. Comey: (03:42:41)
We were not [inaudible 03:42:43]
John Kennedy: (03:42:43)
Now, it’s the Republican nominee, and you got a FISA warrant that was a lie. You say, well, it wasn’t… You’re head of the FBI, didn’t you check? Didn’t you go, “Hey guys, this is a nominee for President of United States. Let’s sit down and talk about what’s your evidence?” You never did that?
Mr. Comey: (03:43:08)
Senator, we were never investigating the candidate, the Republican candidate, Mr. Trump. This is about a surveillance warrant on someone who was no longer associated with the campaign.
John Kennedy: (03:43:17)
You just got his name out of the White Pages.
Mr. Comey: (03:43:21)
John Kennedy: (03:43:25)
Then with General Flynn, you’ve wrapped up your investigation, but you decided to take one more shot. Sally Yates says you went rogue. Isn’t that accurate?
Mr. Comey: (03:43:40)
It is not accurate.
John Kennedy: (03:43:41)
Well, why would she say that? She sure didn’t compliment you. I was sitting right here, bigger than Dallas, listening to her. She said you went rogue.
Mr. Comey: (03:43:55)
You’re asking me what she meant by that?
John Kennedy: (03:43:56)
Yeah. What do you think about that?
Mr. Comey: (03:43:57)
I think she was disappointed that I didn’t coordinate the Flynn interview with her in-
Mr. Comey: (03:44:03)
… and she was disappointed that I didn’t coordinate the Flynn interview with her in advance and I understood her concern about that. I think she understood my explanation afterwards as to why I used my authority, which I had, to do it without coordinating.
Speaker 4: (03:44:12)
But you don’t like attention.
Mr. Comey: (03:44:15)
I stand by my earlier answer. I love attention from my grandchildren and my children and my wife. The rest of it I could let politicians have it.
Speaker 4: (03:44:26)
Can we agree that the FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in all of human history?
Mr. Comey: (03:44:36)
I think so. At risk of offending DEA, I think so.
Speaker 4: (03:44:41)
Mr. Comey, if you’d chosen a different career, say, a driving instructor and you’d never pursued a career at the FBI, don’t you think the FBI’d be better off?
Mr. Comey: (03:44:58)
I didn’t pursue a career at the FBI. I was very happily teaching at Columbia when I was asked to become FBI Director.
Senator Graham: (03:45:04)
That’s enough. So we’ll go to our next Senator Blackburn in a minute. Are you aware that Mr. Barnett, who was the lead investigator of the Flynn case recently said that he did not believe there was a crime involving General Flynn?
Mr. Comey: (03:45:30)
I read his 302 and I think it does say that he thought that before January 5th or before Flynn was interviewed.
Senator Graham: (03:45:36)
So how normal is it for the lead investigator to believe that the person he’s investigating didn’t commit a crime and went so far as to say they thought the whole team was out to get Trump? Is that a normal thing in the FBI? Is that something the court should consider as to whether or not this is a legitimate prosecution?
Mr. Comey: (03:45:58)
I think Mr. Barnett was confusing the nature of the investigation, which is a little bit concerning if he was working on it. It was a counterintelligence investigation. Not a criminal-
Senator Graham: (03:46:08)
No, so here’s the point Mr. Comey. You set Flynn up to get prosecuted there. This was a counterintelligence investigation and there was no there, there. This man was the incoming National Security Advisor. He had every reason in the world to be talking to the Russians about changing policy, but this whole rogue thing, setting up an interview in the White House going around normal procedures bothered a lot of people. Are you aware that agents felt that the investigation was conducted so poorly that they had to buy liability insurance or thought about buying liability insurance?
Mr. Comey: (03:46:44)
I have not. Although I thought all FBI agents-
Senator Graham: (03:46:47)
Well, I just want the public to know this was so bad by the people involved they felt like they needed to buy liability insurance, that the man involved investigating General Flynn didn’t believe the man committed a crime. And what they charged him with was giving false information about a contact with the Russian Ambassador when he was the National Security Advisor, which was on tape. And when Mr. Barnett looked at the Kislyak interaction, he said, “I haven’t changed my mind. I think that’s why the Department of Justice is so upset with the Flint prosecution. Senator Blackburn.
Senator Blackburn: (03:47:23)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Comey, we thank you for coming. We appreciate having your time. This is our day three hearing. We have talked with Rod Rosenstein. We have also had the opportunity to talk with Sally Yates and, yes, in her testimony, she did say that she thought you went rogue on this situation. And that is of concern for us and one of the reasons we wanted to hear from you today. And I will tell you this, as I talked to Tennesseeans, one of the things that they’re trying to figure out is quite simply this. Somebody’s cooked up this plot. They came up with this and then somebody gave the order to carry this plot out and somebody did the dirty work. But then when you talk to Rosenstein and Yates, and now hearing from you, basically what you say is you didn’t know anything about any of this, and you did not know any of this was going on. So why don’t you tell us, who came up with this plot and then gave the order to carry this out?
Mr. Comey: (03:48:40)
What plot are you talking about Senator?
Senator Blackburn: (03:48:42)
Spying on the President.
Mr. Comey: (03:48:46)
There was no spying on the President.
Senator Blackburn: (03:48:48)
You say there was no spying. There was no problems with Carter Page getting that FISA warrant. There was no problems with Papadopoulos. There was no problem with General Flynn. You’re saying that you had just cause for every bit of that, even though, as the Chairman just said and as Senator Kennedy said, your goal was to get to the President, right?
Mr. Comey: (03:49:11)
I’m not sure I understand what your question is.
Senator Blackburn: (03:49:15)
Well, that is not surprising to me. Let me ask you this. The books that you’re writing, would we find those as fiction or non-fiction?
Mr. Comey: (03:49:24)
Senator Blackburn: (03:49:26)
Non-fiction, okay. I guess you’ve got plenty of facts in there that are footnoted and come back you up, right?
Mr. Comey: (03:49:35)
Sure. And you can read the IG Report and the Mueller Report and the Senate Intelligence-
Senator Blackburn: (03:49:41)
Let’s talk about that IG Report, as a matter of fact, I think it’s interesting because when the IG Report really contradicted your statements, you claimed that the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign in 2017, and the IG Report contradicted you on that.
Mr. Comey: (03:50:09)
Is that a question?
Senator Blackburn: (03:50:11)
Yes, sir. What do you have to say about that?
Mr. Comey: (03:50:13)
I’m not aware that there’s a contradiction on that point in the IG Report.
Senator Blackburn: (03:50:17)
Okay, you’re not aware of that. All right. I assume that you’re aware of the article that was posted to the Washington Post under your byline in May 28th, 2019. ” James Comey. No treason. No coup. Just lies and dumb lies.” You recall that article?
Mr. Comey: (03:50:40)
Yes, Senator. I wrote that.
Senator Blackburn: (03:50:42)
Oh, you did write that. Okay. And do you still stand by that article? Because it alleges that Joseph Mifsud was a Russian agent.
Mr. Comey: (03:50:55)
Yeah, I think that’s right. I think the Intelligence Committee found that he was representing Russian interests in communicating with Papadopoulos.
Senator Blackburn: (03:51:04)
Okay. All right. And so you’re standing by that article?
Mr. Comey: (03:51:07)
I haven’t read it since May of 2019, but I’ve got nothing I can think of now that I’d want to change.
Senator Blackburn: (03:51:14)
Okay. And nothing has changed your opinions?
Mr. Comey: (03:51:20)
Senator, I don’t know what the opinions are that you’re asking me about, but I don’t know anything about something I wrote in May of 2019 that I would change.
Senator Blackburn: (03:51:26)
And if somebody wants to know your opinions they can buy one of your books, right?
Mr. Comey: (03:51:31)
Or read the Post or come to this hearing.
Senator Blackburn: (03:51:33)
Yep. I have to go back to this about, who came up with this plot to carry all of this out? We have seen all these emails, the communications between Strzok and Page. We have seen, we’ve read the IG report. We know there were things that seemed to be conveniently overlooked and it is astounding to me that as the head of the premier law enforcement agency, you, Rosenstein, and Yates knew absolutely nothing. But then you knew enough to go to the January 5th meeting in the Oval Office. Did you call that meeting or did either President Obama or Vice President Biden call that meeting?
Mr. Comey: (03:52:32)
I don’t know who called it. I was asked to come to the White House for that meeting for the briefing on the 5th of January.
Senator Blackburn: (03:52:38)
Okay. You were asked to come, and who issued the invitation to you to attend that?
Mr. Comey: (03:52:44)
I don’t know.
Senator Blackburn: (03:52:45)
Okay. Who mentioned the Logan Act and using that against General Flynn?
Mr. Comey: (03:52:53)
Nobody that I recall at the White House. I remember discussing it at the FBI, but not at the White House.
Senator Blackburn: (03:52:58)
With the FBI, okay. And then Peter Strzok’s notes as later relayed to him by you, what did President Obama mean by instructing you to make sure that you had the right people on it?
Mr. Comey: (03:53:24)
I don’t know what Peter Strzok’s notes reflect. I haven’t talked to him about them and I don’t remember hearing those words from President Obama or using them with Peter Strzok. I remember the president saying, “Do this in the normal way,” was the way I understood him.
Senator Blackburn: (03:53:40)
Okay. All right. So still, there is a veil of vagueness that is around your recollections and your memory when it comes to these incidences. Do you have any regrets?
Mr. Comey: (03:54:01)
My memory is pretty good. I don’t tend to remember exact words unless I write them down. I remember the words of my marriage vows, even though it was 1987. I don’t remember specific words that were used during that January 5th meeting because I didn’t write a memo about it afterwards.
Senator Blackburn: (03:54:16)
Mr. Comey, I call that selective memory. You choose to remember certain things and you choose to be vague about other things. About one of the things that we do know is the American people have been deeply troubled by the fact that the FBI could have conducted themselves in this way. That the DOJ could have been involved in this. They want to trust the institutions of their government. They see someone in you who is very arrogant, who is very dismissive and is very condescending to the concerns that they have about the structure of government and the American taxpayer, they’re paying the paycheck for every single person that is in that DOJ and that FBI and they expect their best efforts. And according to Ms. Yates, you did not give those best efforts. You chose to go rogue. I yield back.
Senator Graham: (03:55:20)
Thank you. Mr. Comey, I really appreciate you coming today. You didn’t have to do this. You chose to do it and I want to thank you. Mr. Comey, Are you still there?
Senator Blackburn: (03:55:33)
Yeah, I’m still here.
Senator Graham: (03:55:34)
Okay. Yeah, so I want to thank you for coming and we’ll wrap this up. Is it fair to say that knowing what we know now, Crossfire Hurricane was not done by the book.
Mr. Comey: (03:55:47)
No, I don’t think that’s fair to say.
Senator Graham: (03:55:48)
Okay. That is fair to say, it was not done by the book, right?
Mr. Comey: (03:55:53)
No. I’m disagreeing with you. My answer, you asked me, I think in the main it was done-
Senator Graham: (03:55:57)
Well, God help us all, my friend, if this is by the book. God help the United States of America if this was done by the book because it was such an egregious violation of fairness, altering exculpatory information, failing to tell the court the unreliability of information before the court, there was outcome determined at the beginning, a warrant against an American citizen. If this is by the book, we need to rewrite the book and I promise you, we will. Thank you very, very much for coming and thank you. Now, what will we be doing next? This committee will be going down the ladder of who signed the warrant application to get a FISA warrant against Carter Page. We’ve had Rosenstein, who was the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, who was the Acting Attorney General for this, the number two at DOJ when she was in charge.
Senator Graham: (03:56:56)
Both say I would not have signed the warrant application if I knew then what I know now regarding Mr. Carter Page. Now we have the FBI Director who came into the hearing today and said the three times he signed the application against Carter Page he would not have signed it knowing then what he knows now. So where are we headed? McCabe is next. He was the number two at the FBI. What am I worried about to the public? I’m worried that we’re going to blame this on some low level people. Somebody has got to be blamed for withholding exculpatory information from a court that would have saved an American citizen a lot of grief. Somebody’s got to be blamed by using a document prepared by a foreign agent on the payroll of the Democratic Party who hired a Russian agent to create a document called the dossier that was full of falsehoods that led to the obtaining of a warrant against a member of the opposition parties’ campaign team.
Senator Graham: (03:58:06)
Somebody has to pay that price because if they don’t, we will keep doing this again. If it can happen to a Republican, it can happen to a Democrat. So what do I see here? Everybody at the top saying, “Not me.” How is it possible that the director of the FBI in one of the most important cases in the history of the FBI was not made aware of the fact that the CIA called the dossier the critical document to get a warrant against Carter Page internet rumor. How is it possible that he did not know that the primary sub-source was a single individual suspected by the FBI of being a Russian agent? How’s it possible he wasn’t informed people in the FBI after two interviews in January and March of the Russian sub-source, the Russian agent, that the dossier was bar talk, hearsay, you need to take it with a grain of salt that none of that made it into the [inaudible 03:59:06] application in April?
Senator Graham: (03:59:07)
None of that made it to the top of the FBI. Has it possible something this important to the country that is not remotely possible to me that the case falls apart and nobody tells anybody at the top? So to those who found this out that interviewed the sub-source, to those who were made aware that the sub-source was a potential Russian agent, they want to hang you with this. If you didn’t tell the court, then you’re in trouble. If you didn’t inform your superiors, you’re in trouble, because there’s a duty of candor to the court. So those of you who knew that the dossier wasn’t reliable, was internet rumor, who had information that the sub-source disavowed the reliability of the document, and you didn’t tell anybody about it, you need to be fired or you’re subject to going to jail. If you did tell somebody, then you’ve done your job. But here’s where we’re headed apparently.
Senator Graham: (04:00:12)
In one of the most corrupt investigations in modern history involving the nominee of the Republican Party where the FBI used a document prepared by a foreign agent, Christopher Steele, who hired a Russian spy to create a document to get a warrant against an American citizen about activities in Russia that were Russian disinformation, at least in part, that we end this whole drama while saying, “These things just happen. Nobody at the top really needs to be held accountable other than well, yes, my fault intellectually.” Somebody needs to be fired or go to jail. Mr. Kleinsmith is pleading guilty to alternating a document that it was exculpatory to Mr. Page. Without the dossier, there would be no warrant against Carter Page because all the Russian contacts could be explained if you understood Mr. Page had been working with the CIA, something the FBI knew and failed to tell the court.
Senator Graham: (04:01:19)
He went through hell because of the dossier. Not one person has been prosecuted for colluding with the Russians in the Trump world. Why does the Radcliffe revelations matter? The Director of the FBI was informed by the Intelligence Community in September of 2016 that there was a plot being cooked up by the Clinton campaign to accuse Trump of being involved with the Russians to distract from her email server problem, and the FBI Director doesn’t remember that interaction. Here’s the question. Do you think if this information involved Trump, they would have done something about it? I’ve looked in the file. I can’t find any evidence they took it serious. Doesn’t matter if it’s reliable or not. The question is, did the FBI pursue evidence against the Clinton campaign with the same vigor they did the Trump campaign?
Senator Graham: (04:02:19)
Can you imagine what the media would be saying today if this revelation were about Trump? Can you imagine how breathless it would be if the FBI just ignored it? Can you imagine how this would be portrayed on the newspaper and TV networks of this country if the Republican Party had hired Christopher Steele who hired a Russian agent to investigate the Clinton campaign to get a dossier on Clinton accusing her of horrible things that were all Russian disinformation, hearsay, innuendo? To the American media, you gave Mueller a lot of coverage. I supported the Mueller Investigation because I think it was important that we run these allegations down. Where there’s accusations about the integrity of our elections, about the role of Russia, we should all be concerned. But now that we know now, that we know that the Carter Page fiasco was an effort by a political party to create a document to be used against an American citizen, weaponizing political research, nobody seems to care.
Senator Graham: (04:03:37)
My colleagues talked about everything but the issue before us. I care. I supported legislation protecting Mueller from being fired. Why? Because I cared. I agree with the following, if the Democrats were in charge, we wouldn’t be having this hearing. The Horowitz Report, 17 violations of protocol and policy regarding the Carter Page warrant application. Thank God for Mr. Horowitz. We have found more, even more stunning violations. The House Judiciary Committee has declared war on the Trump Administration every way you can, including impeaching him, but they have yet to hold a hearing with Mr. Horowitz. This committee has had hearings about Russia involvement in our election about their methods and their manes. We called Sally Yates and Clapper to tell us about their concerns about Flynn at a time when people didn’t know. So I want to end with this about the Flynn matter.
Senator Graham: (04:04:38)
It is not normal, ladies and gentlemen, that the agent involved in investigating a case, Mr. Barnett, felt like that there was no crime and the man gets prosecute anyway. It’s not normal for the agent in charge of investigating a case to believe that the organization was out to get a particular individual, in this case, Trump. This is not normal. The Flynn case is not normal. The people in the field wanted to drop it. They kept pushing it. They manufactured a crime against General Flynn. He was not colluding with the Russians. He had every reason in the world to be talking to Mr. Kislyak, the Ambassador of Russia, because he was going to be the incoming National Security Advisor. It is not normal that the FBI takes a politically contrived document from a Russian agent paid for by the Democratic Party and use it against an American citizen. That is not normal.
Senator Graham: (04:05:41)
Somebody needs to be held accountable for this. Not only is it not normal, it is incredibly dangerous. So what will we do in this committee? We will keep moving forward. I’m going to call everybody who signed the warrant application and ask them if you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application against Carter Page? And, oh, by the way, how is it possible that the people in charge seemed to know nothing about egregious abuses in one of the most important cases in the history of the FBI? Stay tuned.