Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: President Donald Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz’s statement on James Comey Senate hearing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump’s lawyer’s statement on Comey Senate hearing

Source: CNN, 6-8-17

I am Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the President privately: The President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.
Mr Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the President told Mr. Comey “it would be good to find out” in that investigation if there were “some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong.” And he did not exclude anyone from that statement.
Consistent with that statement, the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey”let Flynn go.” As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, “General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot” and also “asked how is General Flynn is doing.” Admiral Rogers testified that the President never “directed [him] to do anything . . . illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate” and never “pressured [him] to do so.” Director Coates said the same thing. The President likewise never pressured Mr. Comey. .
The President also never told Mr. Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” in form or substance. Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting. Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. He also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of these memos to the press in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated. .
​ In sum, it is now established that there the President was not being investigated for colluding with the or attempting to obstruct that investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events. As he said yesterday, the President feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda with this public cloud removed. Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: James Comey testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Trump and Russia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Full text: James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia

Source: Politico, 6-8-17

A transcript of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8.

SEN. RICHARD BURR: I call this hearing to order. Director Comey, I appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today, and more importantly I thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years and I’m looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. I’d like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 P.M. today, and I ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. The director has been very gracious with his time, the vice chairman and I worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on the hill, so we will do everything we can to meet that agreement.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the United States Senate and the American people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully, and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep America safe. Part of our mission, beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The committee’s work continues. This hearing represents part of that effort. Jim, allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. Yesterday, I read with interest your statement for the record, and I think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it provides helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it’s helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president, from your vantage point, and outlines a strained relationship. The American people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president’s descriptions of events. These interactions also highlight the importance of the committee’s ongoing investigation. Our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country’s possession. We will establish the facts separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the American people to make their own judgment.

Only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. There are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that I hope you’ll clear up for the American people today. Did the president’s request for loyalty, your impression, let the one-on-one dinner of January 27th was and I quote “at least in part” an effort to create some patronage relationship and March 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of Russia investigation in any way alter your approach of the FBI’s investigation into general Flynn or the broader investigation into Russia, and possible links to the campaign? In your opinion did potential Russian efforts to establish a link with individuals in the Trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion or was it a counter-intelligence concern? There’s been a significant public speculation about your decision-making related to the Clinton email investigation. Why did you decide publicly, to publicly announce, FBI’s recommendations that the Department of Justice not pursue criminal charges? You have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. The American people need to understand the facts behind your action. This committee is uniquely suited to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. We also have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly charged partisan issue. Russian activities during 2016 election may have been aimed at one party’s candidate, but as my colleague senator Rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020, it could be aimed at anyone, at home or abroad.

My colleague, Senator Warner and I, have worked to stay in lock step on this investigation. We’ve had our differences on approach, at times, but I’ve constantly stressed that we need to be a team, and I think Senator Warner agrees with me. We must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. It’s too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. With that, again, I welcome you director, and I turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have.

SEN. MARK WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and let me start by again absolutely thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they’ve taken on this task. Mr. Comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee’s investigation into Russia. I realize this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of Washington, in the last few days. But the truth is, many Americans who may be tuning in today probably haven’t focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. So I’d like to briefly describe, at least from this senator’s standpoint, what we already know, and what we’re still investigating. To be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. It’s not about who won or lost. And it sure as heck is not about Democrats versus Republicans. We are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. Not by guns or missiles, but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. Russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation, all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership, and ultimately in ourselves.

And that’s not just this senator’s opinion. It is the unanimous determination of the entire U.S. intelligence community. So we must find out the full story, what the Russians did, and candidly as some other colleagues mentioned, why they were so successful, and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can’t do it again. The chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020, in my home state of Virginia, we have elections this year in 2017. Simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. Now Mr. Comey, let me say at the outset, we haven’t always agreed on every issue. In fact I’ve occasionally questioned some of the actions you’ve taken, but I’ve never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. You’ve been a straight shooter with this committee and have been willing to speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career, which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. Recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the Russians were ever involved and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any Russians. We know that’s just not the truth. Numerous Trump associates had undisclosed contacts with Russians before and after the election, including the president’s attorney general, his former national security adviser and his current senior adviser, Mr. Kushner. That doesn’t even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have also been caught up in this massive web.

We saw Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Mr. Manafort, forced to step down over ties to Russian back entities. The national security adviser, General Flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the Russians, and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the Russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent. There’s a lot to investigate. Enough, in fact, that director Comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. As the director of the FBI, Mr. Comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation, which might explain why you’re sitting now as a private citizen. What we do know was at the same time that this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-opt the director of the FBI. The testimony Mr. Comey submitted for today’s hearing is very disturbing. For example, on January 27th, after summoning Director Comey to dinner, the president appears to have threatened director’s job while telling him “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” At a later meeting, on February 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the Oval Office, so that he could privately ask Director Comey again “To see way clear to letting Flynn go.” That is a statement that Director Comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general Flynn’s false statements.

Think about it. The president of the United States asking the FBI Director to drop an ongoing investigation. And after that, the president called the FBI Director on two additional occasions, March 30th and April 11th and asked him again “To lift the cloud on the Russian investigation.” Now, Director Comey denied each of these improper requests. The loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the Flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the Russian investigation. Of course, after his refusals, Director Comey was fired. The initial explanation for the firing didn’t pass any smell test. So now Director Comey was fired because he didn’t treat Hillary Clinton appropriately.

Of course that explanation lasted about a day, because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about Russia when he decided to fire Director Comey. Shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an Oval Office meeting with the Russians the day after director Comey was fired. Disparaging our country’s top law enforcement official as a “nutjob,” the president allegedly suggested that his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about Russia. This is not happening in isolation. At the same time, the president was engaged in these efforts with Director Comey, he was also at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the Russia investigation or to intervene with the director. Yesterday we had DNI Director Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers, who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. They expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. They did not take advantage of that opportunity. My belief, that’s not how the President of the United States should behave. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the Russia links, Director Comey’s firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. Again, as I said at the outset, I’ve seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. I’m proud of the committee’s efforts so far. Let me be clear. This is not a witch hunt. This is not fake news. It is an effort to protect our I can from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away any time soon.

So Mr. Comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. I look forward to that testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Thank you, vice chairman. Director has discussed when you agreed to appear before the committee it would be under oath. I’d ask you to please stand. Raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god?

FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: I do.

BURR: Please be seated. Director Comey you’re now under oath. And I would just note to members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes, and again, it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 P.M. With that director Comey, you are recognized, you have the floor for as long as you might need.

COMEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. I’ve submitted my statement for the record, and I’m not going to repeat it here this morning. I thought I would just offer some very brief introductory remarks and I would welcome your questions. When I was appointed FBI Director in 2013, I understood that I served at the pleasure of the president. Even though I was appointed to a 10-year term, which Congress created in order to underscore the importance of the FBI being outside of politics and independent, I understood that I could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. And on May the ninth, when I learned that I had been fired, for that reason I immediately came home as a private citizen. But then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. They confused me because the president and I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job, and he hoped I would stay. And I had repeatedly assured him that I did intend to stay and serve out the years of my term. He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current Attorney General, and had learned that I was doing a great job, and that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce.

So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russian investigation. I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn’t make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made. That didn’t make any sense to me. And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.

I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better, and I say help, because I did nothing alone at the FBI. There no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization’s great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide. The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI’s mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States. I will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. I have a message before I close for my former colleagues of the FBI but first I want the American people to know this truth. The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent. And now to my former colleagues, if I may. I am so sorry that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to you properly. It was the nor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the FBI family, and I will miss it for the rest of my life. Thank you for standing watch. Thank you for doing so much good for this country. Do that good as long as ever you can. And senators, I look forward to your questions.

BURR: Director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the American people. The chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes, vice chair for 12 minutes, based upon the agreement we have. Director, did the special counsel’s office review and/or edit your written testimony?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple C systems and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

BURR: Director Comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. Elections?

COMEY: Not to my understanding, no.

BURR: Did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Director, when the president requested that you, and I quote “Let Flynn go,” General Flynn had an unreported contact with the Russians, which is an offense, and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his FBI testimony. In your estimation, was general Flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy, and in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for Mike Flynn to save face, given that he had already been fired?

COMEY: General Flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts, and the contacts themselves, and so that was my assessment at the time. I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.

BURR: Director, is it possible that, as part of this FBI investigation, the FBI could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with Russians?

COMEY: Sure.

BURR: So there could be something that fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn’t have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle?

COMEY: Correct, in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature.

BURR: Director, Comey, you have been criticized publicly for the decision to present your findings on the email investigation directly to the American people. Have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the American people?

COMEY: Honestly, no. It caused a whole lot of personal pain for me but as I look back, given what I knew at the time and even what I’ve learned since, I think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the FBI.

BURR: In the public domain is this question of the “steel dossier,” a document that has been around out in for over a year. I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document?

COMEY: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.

BURR: Director, the term we hear most often is collusion. When people are describing possible links between Americans and Russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it’s Normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: At what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies?

COMEY: Difficult to say in the abstract. It depends upon the context, whether there’s an effort to keep it covert, what the nature of the request made of the American by the foreign government are. It’s a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts.

BURR: At what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country?

COMEY: Again, difficult to answer in the abstract, but when a foreign power is using especially coercion, or some sort of pressure to try and co-opt an American, especially a government official, to act on its behalf, that’s a serious concern to the FBI and at the heart of the FBI’s counterintelligence mission.

BURR: So if you’ve got a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the FBI would have to for counter intelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail. Would that be an accurate statement?

COMEY: Yes. If the FBI receives a credible allegation that there is some effort to co-opt, coerce, direct, employee covertly an American on behalf of the foreign power, that’s the basis on which a counterintelligence investigation is opened.

BURR: And when you read the dossier, what was your reaction, given that it was 100% directed at the president-elect?

COMEY: Not a question I can answer in open setting, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?

COMEY: The first cyber — there was all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russian-connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.

BURR: And in that time frame, there were more than the DNC and the D triple C that were targets?

COMEY: Correct, a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental, near governmental agencies like nonprofits.

BURR: What would be the estimate of how many entities out there the Russians specifically targeted in that time frame?

COMEY: It’s hundreds. I suppose it could be more than 1,000, but it’s at least hundreds.

BURR: When did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated?

COMEY: I’m not sure exactly. I think either late ’15 or early ’16.

BURR: And did you, the director of the FBI, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: And share with us, if you will, what actions they took.

COMEY: Well, the FBI had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims, and that’s what we consider the entities attacked as part of this massive spear-phishing campaign so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing, and then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of ’15 into ’16, and then throughout ’16, the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity that it saw.

BURR: And the FBI in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked, or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the day that that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and I believe the D triple C, but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high class entity, that had done the work but we didn’t get direct access.

BURR: But no content.

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counter-intelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is but what was briefed to me by the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

BURR: Let me go back if I can very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the email. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, Bill Clinton?

COMEY: Yes. In ultimately conclusive way that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the justice department.

BURR: Were there other things that contributed to that, that you can describe in an open session?

COMEY: There were other things that contributed to that. One significant item I can’t but know the committee’s been briefed on, there’s been some public accounts of it which are nonsense but I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. Probably the only other consideration that I guess I can talk about in open setting is that at one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

BURR: Director, my last question, you’re not only a seasoned prosecutor. You’ve led the FBI for years. You understand the investigative process. You’ve worked with this committee closely, and we’re grateful to you, because I think we’ve mutually built trust in what your organization does, and what we do. Is there any doubt in your mind that this committee carry out its oversight role in the 2016 Russia involvement with the elections in parallel with the now special counsel set up?

COMEY: No, no doubt. It can be done. Requires lots of conversations but Bob Mueller is one of the this country’s great, great pros and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel.

BURR: Thank you. I turn it over to the vice chairman.

WARNER: Thank you, director Comey, again, for your service. Your comments to your FBI family, I know were heartfelt. Know that there are some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation. You had Acting Director McCabe in public testimony a few weeks back, and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm that the vast majority in FBI community had great trust in your leadership, and obviously trust in your integrity. I want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony, and let’s start with the January 6th meeting in Trump Tower, where you went up with a series of officials to brief the President-elect on the Russia investigation. My understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him, on again, “Some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed.” Now you said after that briefing you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started documenting it as soon as you got into the car.

Now you’ve had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the FBI. You’ve worked under presidents of both parties. What was about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?

COMEY: A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with. Circumstances, first, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility, and that relate to the president, president-elect personally, and then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before, but had led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.

WARNER: I think that’s a very important statement you just made. Then, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. Did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos, because they might need to be relied on at some future date?

COMEY: Sure. I created records after conversations that I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. If I didn’t, I did it for nearly all of them especially the ones that were substantive. I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the Independence of our investigative function. That’s what made this so difficult is it was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and the particular person.

WARNER: And so in all your experience, this was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you needed to document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting.

COMEY: That’s right, senator. As I said, as FBI director I interacted with President Obama, I spoke only twice in three years, and didn’t document it. When I was Deputy Attorney General I had a one one-on-one with President Bush been I sent an email to my staff but I didn’t feel with president bush the need to document it in that I way. Again, because of the combination of those factors, just wasn’t present with either President Bush or President Obama.

WARNER: I think that is very significant. I think others will probably question that. Now, the chairman and I have requested those memos. It is our hope that the FBI will get this committee access to those memos so again, we can read that contemporaneous rendition so that we’ve got your side of the story. Now I know members have said and press have said that a great deal has been made whether the president asked and indicated whether the president was the subject of any investigation, and my understanding is prior to your meeting on January 6th, you discussed with your leadership team whether you should be prepared to assure then President-elect Trump that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Now, I understand that your leadership team, agreed with that but was that a unanimous decision? Was there any debate about that?

COMEY: Wasn’t unanimous. One of the members of the leadership team had a view you that although it was technically true we did not have a counter-intelligence file case open on then President-elect Trump. His concern was because we’re looking at the potential, again, that’s the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and Russia, because it was President Trump, President-elect Trump’s campaign, this person’s view was
inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work. And so he was reluctant to make the statement. I disagreed. I thought it was fair to say what was literally true. There was not a counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Trump, and I decided in the moment to say it, given the nature of our conversation.

WARNER: At that moment in time, did you ever revisit that as in the subsequent sessions?

COMEY: With the FBI leadership team? Sure. And the leader had that view that didn’t change. His view was still that it was probably although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading, because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch, obviously it would touch, the campaign, and the person that headed the campaign would be the candidate, and so that was his view throughout.

WARNER: Let me move to the January 27th dinner, where you said “The president began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI director.”

He also indicated that “lots of people” again your words, “Wanted the job.” You go on to say the dinner itself was “Seemingly an effort to” to quote have you ask him for your job and create some “patronage” relationship. The president seems from my reading of your memo to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way. What was your impression, and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship?

COMEY: Well, my impression, and again it’s my impression, I could always be wrong but my common sense told me what was going on is, either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn’t, you’ve already asked Comey to stay, and you didn’t get anything for it. And that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact, he asked specifically, of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said, what was odd about that is we’d already talked twice about it by that point and he said I very much hope you’ll stay. In fact, I just remembered sitting a third, when you’ve seen the. IC tour of me walking across the blue room, and what the president whispered in my ear was “I really look forward to working with you.” So after those encounters —

WARNER: That was a few days before your firing.

COMEY: On the Sunday after the inauguration. The next Friday I have dinner and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job and so I’m sitting there thinking wait a minute three times we’ve already, you’ve already asked me to stay or talked about me staying. My common sense, again I could be wrong but my common sense told me what’s going on here is, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.

WARNER: Again, we ail understand, I was a governor, I had people work for me but this constant requests and again quoting you, him saying that he, despite you explaining your independence, he said “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Have you ever had any of those kind of requests before from anyone else you’ve worked for in the government?

COMEY: No, and what made me uneasy at that point I’m the director of the FBI. The reason that Congress created a t10-year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they’re serving at, with political loyalty owed to any particular person. The statue of justice has a blindfolds on. You’re not supposed to peek out to see there your patron was please pleased with what you’re doing. That’s why I became FBI director to be in of that position. That’s why I was uneasy.

WARNER: February 14th, seems strange, you were in a meeting, and your direct superior the attorney general was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave, including the attorney general to leave, before he brought up the matter of general Flynn. What was your impression of that type of action? Have you ever seen anything like that before?

COMEY: No. My impression was something big is about to happen. I need to remember every single word that is spoken, and again, I could be wrong, I’m 56 years old, I’ve been, seen a few things, my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving which was why he was leaving and I don’t know Kushner well but I think he picked up on the same thing so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to.

WARNER: I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?

COMEY: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.

WARNER: Amen.

COMEY: It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.

WARNER: Well again it’s our hope particularly since you are a pretty knowledgeable guy and wrote this in a way that it was unqualified this committee will get access that unclassified document. I this I it will be important to our investigation. Let me ask you this in closing. How many ongoing investigations at any time does the FBI have?

COMEY: Tens of thousands.

WARNER: Tens of thousands. Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: I think, again, this speaks volumes. This doesn’t even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. I know other members will get to that, but I really appreciate your testimony, and appreciate your service to our nation.

COMEY: Thank you, Senator Warner. I’m sitting here going through my contacts with him. I had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our, an ongoing intelligence investigation, it was brief and entirely professional.

WARNER: He didn’t ask to you take any specific action?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Unlike what we did vis-à-vis will Flynn and the Russia investigation?

COMEY: Correct.

WARNER: Thank you, sir.

BURR: Senator Risch?

SEN. JAMES RISCH: Thank you very much. Mr. Comey, thank you for your service. America needs more like you and we really appreciate it. Yesterday, I got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now a part of the record here. And the first — I read it, and then I read it again, and all I could think was number one, how much hated the class of legal writing when I was in law school, and you are the guy that probably got the A after reading this. I find it clear. I find it concise, and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundreds, maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets, and I really appreciate that. Not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened, and you actually put them in quotes so we know exactly what happened and we’re not getting some rendition of it that’s in your mind.

COMEY: Thank you, sir.

RISCH: You’re to be complimented.

COMEY: I had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me.

RISCH: That’s obvious, sir. The chairman walked you through a number of things that the American people need to know and want to know. Number one, obviously, we all know about the active measures that the Russians have taken. I think a lot of people were surprised at this. Those of us that work in the intelligence community, it didn’t come as a surprise, but now the American people know this, and it’s good they know this, because this is serious and it’s a problem. I think secondly, I gather from all this that you’re willing to say now that, while you were director, the president of the United States was not under investigation. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: That’s correct.

RISCH: All right, so that’s a fact that we are rely on?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RISCH: I remember, you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the “New York Times” wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. Do you remember reading that article when it first came out?

COMEY: I do, it was about allegedly extensive electronic surveillance in their communications.

RISCH: Correct. That upset you to the point where you surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct. I want to be careful in open setting, but —

RISCH: I’m not going to go any further than that, so thank you. In addition to that, after that, you sought out both Republican and Democrat senators to tell them that, hey, I don’t know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

COMEY: Yes.

RISCH: Okay. So again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: In the main, it was not true. And again, all of you know this. Maybe the American people don’t. The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on, and going on are not talking about it. We don’t call the press to say, hey, you don’t that thing wrong about the sensitive topic. We have to leave it there.

I mentioned to the chairman the nonsense around what influenced me to make the July 5th statement. Nonsense. But I can’t go explaining how it is nonsense.

RISCH: Thank you. All right. So those three things we now know regarding the active measures, whether the president is under investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians. I want to drill right down, as my time is limited, to the most recent dust up regarding allegations that the president of the United States obstructed justice. Boy, you nailed this down on page 5, paragraph 3. You put this in quotes. Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words now in quotes. It says, quote, I hope — this is the president speaking — I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go. Now, those are his exact words, is that correct.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

COMEY: Not in his words, no.

RISCH: He did not order you to let it go?

COMEY: Again, those words are not an order.

RISCH: He said, I hope. Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

COMEY: I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.

RISCH: Right.

COMEY: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

RISCH: You may have taken it as a direction but that’s not what he said.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: He said, I hope.

COMEY: Those are his exact words, correct.

RISCH: You don’t know of anyone ever being charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here.

RISCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Feinstein?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, I just want you to know that I have great respect for you. Senator Cornyn and I sit on the judiciary committee and we have the occasion to have you before us. You’re a man of strength and I regret the situations we all find ourselves in. I just want to say that. Let me begin with one overarching question. Why do you believe you were fired?

COMEY: I guess I don’t know for sure. I believe — I think the president, at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. Again, I didn’t know that at the time. I watched his interview. I read the press accounts of his conversations. I take him at his word there. Look, I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that’s not true. I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.

FEINSTEIN: Talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty and your response to that and what impact you believe that had.

COMEY: I don’t know for sure because I don’t know the president well enough to read him well. I think it was — first of all, relationship didn’t get off to a great start, given the conversation I had to have on January 6th. This didn’t improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something, and I was refusing to give it. Again, I don’t know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly.

FEINSTEIN: Do you believe the Russia investigation played a role?

COMEY: In why I was fired?

FEINSTEIN: Yes.

COMEY: Yes. I’ve seen the president say so.

FEINSTEIN: Let’s go to the Flynn issue. The senator outlined, “I hope you could see your way to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” But you also said in your written remarks, and I quote, that you “had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,”. Please go into that with more detail.

COMEY: Well, the context and the president’s word are what led me to that conclusion. As I said in my statement, I could be wrong, but Flynn had been forced to resign the day before. And the controversy around general Flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he lied to the vice president about his nature of conversations with the Russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that. So that happens on the day before. On the 1, the president makes reference to that. I understood what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn’s account of his conversations with the Russians.

FEINSTEIN: Now, here’s the question, you’re big. You’re strong. I know the oval office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you.

COMEY: It’s a great question. Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in. The only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? That’s why I carefully chose the words. Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I remember saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you asked me to do. Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. That’s how Ed myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I’d do it better.

FEINSTEIN: You describe two phone calls that you received from president trump. One on March 30th and one on April 11. He, quote, described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president, and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. How did you interpret that? What did you believe he wanted you to do?

COMEY: I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. I think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general. It was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. But what he asked me was actually narrowing than that. I think what he meant by the cloud — and, again, I could be wrong — but the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on what I want to focus on. The ask was to get it out that I, the president, am not personally under investigation.

FEINSTEIN: After April 11th, did he ask you more ever about the Russia investigation? Did he ask you any questions?

COMEY: We never spoke again after April 11th.

FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?

COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that. That I would see what we could do. It was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then I turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general.

FEINSTEIN: So I want to go into that. Who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stop the investigation back at the FBI, and what was their response?

COMEY: The FBI, during one of the two conversations — I’m not remembering exactly — I think the first, my chief of staff was sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president’s call was a surprise. I discussed the lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who, typically, and I think in all the circumstances, was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel and, I think in a number of circumstances, the number three in the FBI and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. The group of us that lead the FBI when it comes to national security.

FEINSTEIN: You have the president of the United States asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. What was the response of your colleagues?

COMEY: I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was. Some said things that led me to believe that. I don’t remember exactly. But the reaction was similar to mine. They’re all experienced people who never experienced such a thing, so they were very concerned. Then the conversation turned to about, so what should we do with this information? That was a struggle for us. Because we are the leaders of the FBI, so it’s been reported to us, and I heard it and now shared it with the leaders of the FBI, our conversation was, should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? Our primary concern was, we can’t infect the investigative team. We don’t want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united States has asked, and when it comes from the president, I took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we’re not going to follow that request. So we decided, we have to keep it away from our troops.

Is there anyone else we ought to tell at the justice department? We considered whether to tell — the attorney general said we believe rightly he was shortly going to recuse. There was no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. The deputy attorney general was Mr. Boente, acting shortly in the seat. We decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as we’d already done, and this investigation is going to do on. Figure out what to do with it down the road. Is there a way to corroborate it? It was our word against the president’s. No way to corroborate this. My view of this changed when the prospect of tapes was raised. That’s how we thought about it then.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Director Comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about Mike Flynn, was that only time he asked you to hopefully let it go?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: And in that meeting, as you understood it, he was asking not about the general Russia investigation, he was asking specifically about the jeopardy that Flynn was in himself?

COMEY: That’s how I understood it. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: As you perceived it, while he hoped you did away with it, you perceived it as an order, given the setting, the position and some of the circumstances?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: At the time, did you say something to the president about, that is not an appropriate request, or did you tell the white house counsel, it’s not an appropriate request? Someone needs to tell the president he can’t do these things.

COMEY: I didn’t, no.

RUBIO: Why?

COMEY: I don’t know. I think — as I said earlier, I think the circumstances were such that it was — I was a bit stunned and didn’t have the presence of mind. I don’t know. I don’t want to make you sound like I’m captain courageous. I don’t know if I would have said to the president with the presence of mind, sir, that’s wrong. In the moment, it didn’t come to my mind. What came to my mind is be careful what you say. I said, I agree Flynn is a good guy.

RUBIO: On the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the Russian investigation in general?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: His specific ask was you’d tell the American people what you’d told him, told the leaders of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, he was not personally under investigation?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What he was asking you to do, would you have done here today?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: Again, at that setting, did you say to the president, it would be inappropriate for you to do so and then talk to the White House counsel or somebody so hopefully they’d talked to him and tell him he couldn’t do this?

COMEY: First time I said, I’ll see what we can do. Second time, I explained how it should work, that the White House counsel should contact the deputy attorney general.

RUBIO: You told him that?

COMEY: The president said, okay. I think that’s what I’ll do.

RUBIO: To be clear, for you to make a public statement that he was not under investigation wouldn’t be illegal but you felt it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed?

COMEY: Yes, sir. We wrestled with it before my testimony, where I confirmed that there was an investigation. There were two primary concerns. One was it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that. And second, it is a slippery slope. If we say the president and the vice president aren’t under investigation. What is the principled investigation for stopping? So the leaderrship, at justice, acting attorney general Boente said, you’re not going to do that.

RUBIO: On March 30th during the phone call about general Flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call, quote, unquote, the McCabe thing. Specifically, the Mccabe thing as you understood it was that Mccabe’s wife had received campaign money from what I assume means Terry McAuliffe?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: Close to the Clintons. Did he say, I don’t like this guy because he got money from someone close to Clinton?

COMEY: He asked me about McCabe and said, how is he going to be with me as president? I was rough on him on the campaign trail.

RUBIO: Rough on Mccabe?

COMEY: By his own account, he said he was rough on McCabe and Mrs. McCabe on the campaign trail. How is he going to be? I shared with the president, Andy is a pro. No issue at all. You have to know people of the FBI. They’re not —

RUBIO: So the president turns to you and says, remember, I never brought up the McCabe thing because you said he was a good guy, did you perceive that to be a statement that, I took care of you. I didn’t do something because you told me he was a good guy. So I’m asking you potentially for something in return. Is that how you perceived it?

COMEY: I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That’s possible. It was so out of context I didn’t have a clear view of what it was.

RUBIO: On a number of occasions here, you bring up — let’s talk about the general Russia investigation, OK? Page 6 of your testimony you say, the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to, quote, unquote, lift the cloud, the general Russia investigation, you responded, we are investigating the matter as quickly as we could and there would be great benefit if we didn’t find anything for having done the work well. He agreed. He emphasized the problems it was causing him. He agreed it’d be great to have an investigation, all the facts came out and we found nothing. He agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda. Is that an accurate assessment?

COMEY: Yes, sir. He went farther than that. He said, and if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.

RUBIO: That is the second part. The satellites, if one of my satellites, I imagine he meant some of the people surrounding his campaign, did something wrong, it’d be great to know that, as well.

COMEY: Yes, sir. That’s what he said.

RUBIO: Are those the only two instances in which that back and forth happened, where the president was basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s okay. Do the Russia investigation. I hope it all comes out. I have nothing to do with anything Russia. It’d be great if it all came out, people around me were doing things that were wrong?

COMEY: Yes. As I recorded it accurately there. That was the sentiment he was expressing. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What it comes down to is the president asked three things of you. Asked for your loyalty. You said you’d be loyally honest.

COMEY: Honestly loyal.

RUBIO: Honestly loyal. He asked you on one occasion to let the Mike Flynn thing go because he was a good guy. By the way, you’re aware he said the same thing in the press the next day. He is a good guy, treated unfairly, etc. I imagine your FBI agents read that.

COMEY: I’m sure they did.

RUBIO: The president’s wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had a press conference with the prime minister. Going back, the three requests were, number one, be loyal. Number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go. He is a good guy, been treated unfairly. Number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in congress already know, which you already know and what you told me three times, that I’m not under personally under investigation.

COMEY: That’s right.

RUBIO: We learn more from the newspaper sometimes than the open hearings. Do you ever wonder why, of all the things in the investigation, the only thing never leaked is the fact the president was never personally under investigation, despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans and the leadership of congress have known that for weeks?

COMEY: I don’t know. I find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience.

RUBIO: Finally, who are those senior leaders at the FBI you share these conversations with?

COMEY: As I said in response to Sen. Feinstein’s question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy director’s chief counse and then, more often than not, the number three person at the FBI, the associate deputy director. And quite often, head of the national security branch.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. RON WYDEN: Mr. Comey, welcome. You and I have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting Americans access to secure encryption. But I believe the timing of your firing stinks. Yesterday, you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. Now, to my questions. In talking to senator Warner about this dinner that you had with the president, I believe January 27th, all in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty and denied allegations against him. All took place over one supper. Now, you told senator Warner that the president was looking to, quote, get something. Looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation?

COMEY: I don’t know that I’d go that far. I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I — excuse me — how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty. But I don’t know whether I’d go so far as to connect it to the investigation.

WYDEN: He said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage. Behaving in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss?

COMEY: Yes. At least consider how what you’re doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration.

WYDEN: Let me turn to the attorney general. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the president’s actions with Attorney General Sessions, even though he had not recused himself. What was it about the attorney general’s interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?

COMEY: Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. So we were convinced — in fact, I think we’d already heard the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.

WYDEN: How would you characterize Attorney General Sessions’s adherence to his recusal? In particular, with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation.

COMEY: That’s a question I can’t answer. I think it is a reasonable question. If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don’t know. So I don’t have an answer for the question.

WYDEN: Your testimony was that the president’s request about Flynn could infect investigation. Had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation?

COMEY: We would have closed any investigation of general Flynn in connection with his statements and encounters — statements about encounters with Russians in the late part of December. We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.

WYDEN: So in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?

COMEY: Correct. And as good as our people are, our judgment was, we don’t want them hearing that the president of the United States wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair, impartial and aggressive.

WYDEN: Acting Attorney General Yates found out Mike Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians and went immediately to warn the white house. Flynn is gone, but other individuals with contacts with the Russians are still in extremely important positions of power. Should the American people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them?

COMEY: I think all I can say, senator, is it’s a — the special counsel’s investigation is very important, understanding what efforts there were or are by Russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the FBI’s mission. And you’ve got the right person in Bob Mueller to lead it, it is a very important piece of work.

WYDEN: Vice president Pence was the head of the transition. To your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn prior to or during general Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser?

COMEY: I don’t — you’re asking including up to the time when Flynn was —

WYDEN: Right.

COMEY: Forced to resign? My understanding is that he was. I’m trying to remember where I get that understanding from. I think from acting attorney general Yates.

WYDEN: So former acting attorney general Yates testified concerns about general Flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. Would that have included anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats’ office, the DNI?

COMEY: I would assume, yes.

WYDEN: Michael Flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. Do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn during that period?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here. I don’t recall that he was. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember that he was.

WYDEN: Let’s see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. Besides the letter from the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or been involved in your firing?

COMEY: I don’t. I don’t.

WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Collins?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with our request to appear before this committee and assist us in this very important investigation. I want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation. The first was during your January 6th meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears that you actually volunteered that assurance. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct.

COLLINS: Did you limit that statement to counterintelligence invest — investigations, or were you talking about any FBI investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t use the term counterintelligence. I was briefing him about salacious and unverified material. It was in a context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true. My reading of it was it was important for me to assure him we were not person investigating him. So the context then was actually narrower, focused on what I just talked to him about. It was very important because it was, first, true, and second, I was worried very much about being in kind of a J. Hoover-type situation. I didn’t want him thinking I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way. I was briefing him on it because, because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. We didn’t want to be keeping that from him. He needed to know this was being said. I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him. So that’s the context in which I said, sir, we’re not personally investigating you.

COLLINS: Then — and that’s why you volunteered the information?

COMEY: Yes, ma’am.

COLLINS: Then on the January 27th dinner, you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because, “you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren’t.” Again, were you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations, or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t modify the word investigation. It was, again, he was reacting strongly against the unverified material, saying I’m tempted to order you to investigate it. In the context of that, I said, sir, be careful about it. I might create a narrative we’re investigating you personally.

COLLINS: There was the March 30th phone call with the president in which you reminded him that congressional leaders had been briefed that we were no personally — the FBI was not personally investigating president trump. And, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations, or was it a broader statement? I’m trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president underway.

COMEY: No. I’m sorry. If I misunderstood, I apologize. We briefed the congressional leadership about what Americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on. We specifically said, the president is not one of those Americans. But there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. The context was, counterintelligence, but I wasn’t trying to hide some criminal investigation of the president.

COLLINS: And was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on May 9th?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: I’d like to now turn to the conversations with the president about Michael Flynn, which had been discussed at great length.

First, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. But I remain puzzled by your response. Michael Flynn is a good guy. You could have said, Mr. President, this meeting is inappropriate. This response could compromise the investigation. You should not be making such a request. It’s fundamental to the operation of our government, the FBI be insulated from this kind of political pressure. You talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the president making the request. But my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel’s office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-à-vis the FBI?

COMEY: In general, I did. I spoke to the attorney general and spoke to the new deputy attorney general, Mr. Rosenstein, when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI. As I said in my testimony, I told the attorney general, it can’t happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. Why didn’t we raise the specific? It was of investigative interest to figure out, what just happened with the president’s request? I wouldn’t want to alert the white house it had happened until we figured out what we were going to do with it investigatively.

COLLINS: Your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said, don’t ever leave me alone with him again. Are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with regard to part of the investigation of Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. I specifically did not. I did not.

COLLINS: Okay. You mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo memorializing the conversation. What was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you have not done that with two previous presidents?

COMEY: As I said, a combination of things. A gut feeling is an important overlay, but the circumstances, that I was alone, the subject matter and the nature of the person I was interacting with and my read of that person. Yeah, and really just gut feel, laying on top of all of that, that this is going to be important to protect this organization, that I make records of this.

COLLINS: Finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice?

COMEY: Yes.

COLLINS: And to whom did you show copies?

COMEY: I asked — the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might a tape. My judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.

COLLINS: Was that Mr. Wittes?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: Who was it?

COMEY: A close friend who is a professor at Columbia law school.

COLLINS: Thank you.

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH: Mr. Comey, prior to January 27th of this year, have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or a private dinner with a president of the United States?

COMEY: No. Dinner, no. I had two one-on-ones with President Obama. One to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement and race, which was an important topic throughout for me and for the president. Then once very briefly for him to say goodbye.

HEINRICH: Were those brief interactions?

COMEY: No. The one about law enforcement and race and policing, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us.

HEINRICH: How unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president? Did that strike you as odd?

COMEY: Yeah. So much so, I assumed there would be others, that he couldn’t possibly be having dinner with me alone.

HEINRICH: Do you have an impression that if you had found — if you had behaved differently in that dinner, and I am quite pleased that you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the Flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired?

COMEY: I don’t know. It’s impossible to say looking back. I don’t know.

HEINRICH: But you felt like those two things were directly relevant to the kind of relationship that the president was seeking to establish with you?

COMEY: Sure, yes.

HEINRICH: The president has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. Election cycle as a hoax and fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and, obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place?

COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

HEINRICH: That is a hostile act by the Russian government against this country?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

HEINRICH: Did the president in any of those interactions that you’ve shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect America against Russian interference in our election system?

COMEY: I don’t recall a conversation like that.

HEINRICH: Never?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Do you find it —

COMEY: Not with President Trump.

HEINRICH: Right.

COMEY: I attended a fair number of meetings on that with President Obama.

HEINRICH: Do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by Russia’s actions in our election?

COMEY: I can’t answer that because I don’t know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders. I just don’t know sitting here.

HEINRICH: Did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously.

COMEY: I don’t remember any interactions with the president other than the initial briefing on January the 6th. I don’t remember — could be wrong, but I don’t remember any conversations with him at all about that.

HEINRICH: As you’re very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. You told us the president asked you to back off the Flynn investigation. The president told a reporter —

COMEY: Not in that dinner.

HEINRICH: Fair enough. Told the reporter he never did that. You’ve testified that the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. White house denies that. A lot of this comes down to who should we believe. Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?

COMEY: My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself so I’m not going to. I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. As I used to say to juries, when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry pick it. You can’t say, I like these things he said but on this, he’s a ten liar. You have to take it together. I’ve tried to be open, fair, transparent and accurate. Of significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? Why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? So that, to me, as an investigator, is a significant fact.

HEINRICH: As we look at testimony or as communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistency?

COMEY: Well, in looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing.

HEINRICH: Thank you. So there are reports that the incoming Trump administration, either during the transition and/or after the inauguration, attempted to set up a sort of backdoor communication channel with the Russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, their facilities. What would be the risks, particularly for a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet, to setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign government, especially if they were to evade our own American intelligence services?

COMEY: I’m not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting, but the risk is — primary risk is obvious. You spare the Russians the cost and effort to break into our communications channels by using theirs. You make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations. Then to use those to the benefit of Russia against the united States.

HEINRICH: The memos that you wrote, you wrote — did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification?

COMEY: No. On a few of the occasions, I wrote — I sent emails to my chief of staff on some of the brief phone conversations I had. The first one was a classified briefing. Though it was in a conference room at Trump Tower, it was a classified briefing. I wrote that on a classified device. The one I started typing in the car, that was a classified laptop I started working on.

HEINRICH: Any reason in a classified environment, in a skiff, that this committee, it would not be appropriate to see those communications at least from your perspective as the author?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. ROY BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, when you were terminated at the FBI, I said, and still continue to feel, that you have provided years of great service to the country. I also said that I’d had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions that you made. If the president hadn’t terminated your service, would you still be, in your opinion, the director of the FBI today?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: So you took as a direction from the president something you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Six weeks later were still telling the president on March the 30th that he was not personally the target of any investigation?

COMEY: Correct. On March the 30th, and I think again on April 11th, as well, I told him we’re not investigating him personally. That was true.

BLUNT: The point to me, the concern to me there is, all these things are going on. You now in retrospect, or at least to this committee, you had serious concerns about what the president had, you believed, directed you to do, and had taken no action. Hadn’t even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is a chain of command, that these things happened. Do you have a sense looking back that that was a mistake?

COMEY: No. In fact, I think no action was the most important thing I could do.

BLUNT: On the Flynn issue specifically, I believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of Flynn’s account of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. Which was essentially misleading the vice president and others?

COMEY: Correct. I’m not going to go into the details but whether there were false statements made to government investigators, as well.

BLUNT: Any suggestion that the — General Flynn had violated the Logan Act, I always find incredible. The Logan Act has been on the books over 200 years. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. My sense would be that the discussion, not the problem, misleading investigators or the vice president might have been?

COMEY: That’s fair. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Had you previously on February 14th discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to Flynn?

COMEY: No, sir.

BLUNT: So he said he’s a good guy. You said he is a good guy. That was — no further action taken on that?

COMEY: He said more than that, but there was no — the action was, I wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it and made a decision. We’re going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road.

BLUNT: Did it mean you had no responsibility to report that to the Justice Department in some way?

COMEY: I think at some point, and I don’t know what Director Mueller is going to do with it, but at some point, I was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. But our judgment was in the short term, doesn’t make sense to — no fuzz on the fact I reported to the attorney general. That’s why I stressed he shouldn’t be kicked out of the room. Didn’t make sense to report to him now.

BLUNT: You said the attorney general said, I don’t want to be in the room with him alone again, but you continued to talk to him on the phone. What is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone?

COMEY: I think what I stressed to the attorney general was broader than just the room. I said, I report to you. It is very important you be between me and the white house.

BLUNT: After that discussion with the attorney general, did you take phone calls from the president?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Why did you just say you need to — why didn’t you say, I’m not taking that call. Talk to the attorney general?

COMEY: I did on the April 11th call. I reported the calls — the March 30th call and the April 11th call to my superior, who was the acting deputy attorney general.

BLUNT: I don’t want to run out of time here. In reading your testimony, January the 3rd, January the 27th and March the 30th, it appears to me on all three of those occasions, you unsolicited by the president, made the point to him he was not a target of an investigation?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: One, I thought the March 30th, very interesting, you said, well, even though you don’t want — you may not want — that was 27th, where he said, why don’t you look into that more? You said, you may not want that because we couldn’t say with — we couldn’t answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. You didn’t seem to be answering that question anyhow. Senator Rubio pointed out the one unanswered, unleaked question seems to have been that. In this whole period of time. You said something earlier and I don’t want to fail to follow up on, you said after dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media.

COMEY: Correct.

BLUNT: What kind of information was that? What kind of information did you give to a friend?

COMEY: That the — the Flynn conversation. The president had asked me to let the Flynn — forgetting my exact own words. But the conversation in the Oval Office.

BLUNT: So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?

COMEY: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.

BLUNT: Were all your memos that you recorded on classified or other memos that might be yours as a private citizen?

COMEY: I’m not following the question.

BLUNT: You said you used classified —

COMEY: Not the classified documents. Unclassified. I don’t have any of them anymore. I gave them to the special counsel. My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.

BLUNT: So why didn’t you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party?

COMEY:Because I was weary the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach. If it was I who gave it to the media. I asked my friend, make sure this gets out.

BLUNT: It does seem to me what you do there is create a source close to the former director of the FBI as opposed to taking responsibility yourself for saying, here are the records. Like everybody else, I have other things I’d like to get into but I’m out of time.

SEN. ANGUS KING: First, I’d like to acknowledge Senator Blumenthal and Senator Nelson. The principal thing you’ll learn is the chairs there are more uncomfortable than the chairs here. But welcome to the hearing. Mr. Comey, a broad question. Was the Russian activity in the 2016 election a one off proposition, or is this part of a long-term strategy? Will they be back?

COMEY: Oh, it is a long-term practice of theirs. It’s stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back.

KING: I think that’s very important for the American people to understand. That this is very much a forward looking investigation in terms of how do we understand what they did and how do we prevent it. Would you agree that is a big part of our role here?

COMEY: Yes, sir. It is not a Republican thing or a democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They’re going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of, and they’re not devoted to either, in my experience. They’re just about their own advantage. They will be back.

KING: That’s my observation. I don’t think Putin is a Republican or a Democrat. He’s an opportunist.

COMEY: I think that’s a fair statement.

KING: With regard to the — several of these conversations, in his interview with Lester Holt on NBC, the president said, I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this an accurate statement?

COMEY: No, sir.

KING: Did you in any way initiate that dinner?

COMEY: No. He called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me, was I free for dinner that night. Called himself. Said, can you come over for dinner tonight? I said, yes, sir. He said, will 6:00 work? I think 6:00 first. Then he said, I was going to invite your whole family but we’ll do it next time. Is that a good time? I said, sir, whatever works for you. He said, how about 6:30? I said, whatever works for you, sir. Then I hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. I was supposed to take her to dinner that night.

KING: One of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date.

COMEY: Yeah. In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife and I wish I would have been there that night.

KING: That’s one question I’m not going to follow up on, Mr. Comey. In that same interview, the president said, in one case I called him and in one case, he call me. Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: No.

KING: Did you ever call the president?

COMEY: No. I might — the only reason I’m hesitating is, I think there was at least one conversation where I was asked to call the White House switchboard to be connected to him. I never initiated a communication with the president.

KING: In his press conference May 18th, the president responded, quote, no, no, when asked about asking you to stop the investigation into general Flynn. Is that a true statement?

COMEY: I don’t believe it is.

KING: In regard to him being personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way?

COMEY: I obviously can’t comment either way. I talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when I was head of the FBI. It is Bob Mueller’s responsibility now. I don’t know.

KING: Clearly, your statements to the president back on the various times when you assured him it wasn’t under investigation, as of that moment, is it correct?

COMEY: Correct.

KING: Now, on the Flynn investigation, is it not true that Mr. Flynn was and is a central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

COMEY: I can’t answer that in an open setting, sir.

KING: Certainly, Mr. Flynn was part of the so-called Russian investigation? Can you answer that question?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

KING: All right. We’ll be having a closed session shortly so we’ll follow up on that. In terms of his comments to you about — I think in response to Senator Risch, he said, I hope you’ll hold back on that, but when you get a — when a president of the United States in the Oval Office says something like, I hope or I suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive?

COMEY: Yes. It rings in my ear as, well, will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest.

KING: I was just going to quote that, in 1179, December 27th, Henry II said, who will rid me of the meddlesome priest, and the next day, he was killed. Exactly the same situation. We’re thinking along the same lines. Several other questions, and these are a little more detailed. What do you know about the Russian bank VEB?

COMEY: Nothing that I can talk about in an open setting. I know —

KING: That takes care of the next three questions.

COMEY: I know it exists.

KING: What is relationship of ambassador — the ambassador from Russia to the United States to the Russian intelligence infrastructure?

COMEY: He’s a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the Russian Embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. So, surely, he is whiting of their aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the United States. I don’t consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. He’s a diplomat.

KING: Did you ever — did the FBI ever brief the Trump administration about the advisability of interacting directly with Ambassador Kislyak?

COMEY: All I can say sits here is there are a variety of defensive briefings given to the incoming administration about the counterintelligence risk.

KING: Back to Mr. Flynn. Would the — would closing out the Flynn investigation have impeded the overall Russian investigation?

COMEY: No. Well, unlikely, except to the extent — there is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and squeeze them, flip them and they give you information about something else. But I saw the two as touching each other but separate.

KING: With regard to your memos, isn’t it true that in a court case when you’re weighing evidence, contemporaneous memos and contemporaneous statements to third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of testimony?

COMEY: Yes.

KING: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Lankford?

LANKFORD: Former Director Comey, good to see you again.

COMEY: You, too.

LANKFORD: Multiple opportunities to visit, as everyone here has. I appreciate you and your service and what you have done for the nation for a long time, what you continue to do. I told you before in the heat of last year, when we had an opportunity to visit personally, that I pray for you and your family because you carry a tremendous amount of stress. That is still true today.

COMEY: Thank you.

LANKFORD: Let me walk through a couple things with you. Your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happened in those different meetings. Have you had the opportunity to reference those notes when you were preparing the written statement you put forward today?

COMEY: Yes. I think nearly all of my written recordings of my conversations, I had a chance to review them before filing my statement.

LANKFORD: Do you have a copy of any of the notes personally?

COMEY: I don’t. I turned them over to Bob Mueller’s investigators.

LANKFORD: The individual that you told about your memos, that then were sent on to The New York Times, did you have a copy of the memos or told orally?

COMEY: Had a copy at the time.

LANKFORD: Do they still have a copy of those memos?

COMEY: Good question. I think so. I guess I can’t say for sure sitting here, but — I guess I don’t know. But I think so.

LANKFORD: So the question is, could you ask them to hand that copyright back to you so you can hand them over to this committee?

COMEY: Potentially.

LANKFORD: I would like to move that from potentially to seeing if we can ask that question so we can have a copy of those. Obviously, the notes are really important to us, so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it. The written documents are exceptionally important.

COMEY: Yeah.

LANKFORD: Were there other documents we need to be aware of you used in your preparation for your written statement we should also have that would assist us in helping us with this?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of, no.

LANKFORD: Past the February 14th meeting, which is an important meeting as we discuss the conversations here about Michael Flynn, when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go, and the conversation back and forth about being a good guy, after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about Michael Flynn again to you? Had multiple other conversations you had documents with the president.

COMEY: I don’t remember him bringing it up again.

LANKFORD: Did a member of the white house staff come up to you asking you to drop the Michael Flynn case, anything referring to that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the Director of National Intelligence talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did anyone from the attorney general’s office, the department of justice ask about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the head of NSA talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: The key aspect here is if this seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it, it seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that point, the day after he had just fired Flynn, to come back here and say, I hope we can let this go, then it never reappears again. Did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. Although I don’t know there are any manifestations between February 14th and when I was fired. I don’t know that the president had any way of knowing whether it was effective or not.

LANKFORD: Okay. Fair enough. If the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that? Knowing it is an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation, would that be a matter of going to you, you perceive, and say, you make it stop because he doesn’t have the authority to stop it? How would the president make an ongoing investigation stop?

COMEY: I’m not a legal scholar, but as a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but could anyone be investigative or not. I think he has the legal authority. All of us ultimately report in the executive branch to the president.

LANKFORD: Would that be to you, or the attorney general or who?

COMEY: I suppose he could if he wanted to issue a direct order could do it anyway. Through the attorney general or issue it directly to me.

LANKFORD: Well, is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? I can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he’s publicly expressed he’s not fond of the investigation. I heard you refer to before trying to keep the agents away from any comment that the president may have made. Quite frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people that he’s not real fond of this investigation. Do you think there’s a difference in that?

COMEY: Yes. There’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the FBI director in the eye and saying I hope you let this go. I think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the United States did that, there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. That’s why we kept it so tight.

LANKFORD: OK. You had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. Without having to go into all of the names and specific times and to be able to dip into all of that. Have there been news accounts about the Russian investigation or collusion about the whole event or as you read the story you were wrong about how wrong they got the facts?

COMEY: Yes, there have been many, many stories based on — well, lots of stuff but about Russia that are dead wrong.

LANKFORD: I was interested in your comment that you made as well that the president said to you if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. Did the president seem to talk to you specifically on March 30th saying I’m frustrated that the word is not getting out that I’m under investigation. But if there are people in my circle that are, let’s finish the investigation, is that how you took it?

COMEY: Yes, sir. Yes.

LANKFORD: Then you made a comment earlier a the attorney general, the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the Clinton e-mails saying you were asked to not call it an investigation anymore. But call it a matter. You said that confused you. You can give us additional details on that?

COMEY: Well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence as we typically do of an investigation for months. And was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we’re talking about interacting with the FBI in the course of our work. The Clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security matters, things like that for what was going on. We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to testify and talk publicly about it I wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter. They all reported the FBI has an investigation open. So that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.

LANKFORD: You gave impression that the campaign was somehow using the language as the FBI because you were handed the campaign language?

COMEY: I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that. It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.

BURR: Senator Manchin.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Thank you. I appreciate being here. West Virginia is interested in the hear we’re having today. I’ve had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow West Virginians. Most of them have been asked and there are some to be asked if the classified hearing. I want to thank you first of all for coming to be here and volunteering to stay in the classified hearing. I don’t know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday —

COMEY: I watched part of it, yes.

MANCHIN: And it was quite troubling. My colleagues had very pointed questions they wanted answers to. And they weren’t classified and could have been answered in the open setting and they refused to. So that makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. Sir, the seriousness of the Russia investigation and knowing that it can be ongoing as Senator Keegan alluded to. What are your concerns there? American public saying why are we making a big deal of this Russian investigation? Can you tell me about your thoughts?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Finally, did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the Russians were doing?

COMEY: Thank you, senator. As I said earlier, I don’t remember any conversations with the president about the Russia election interference.

MANCHIN: Did he ever ask you any questions concerning this?

COMEY: Well, there was an initial briefing of our findings. And I think there was conversation there I don’t remember exactly where he asked what I found and what our sources were and what our confidence level was. The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.

MANCHIN: It’s extremely important, extremely dangerous what we’re dealing with and it’s needed is what you’re saying.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president?

COMEY: It never occurred to me until the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are.

MANCHIN: Both of you are in the same here, you both hope there are taping and recordings?

COMEY: Well all I can do is hope. The president surely knows if he taped me. If he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all of the tapes I’m good with you.

MANCHIN: Sir, do you believe that Robert Mueller, our new special versus, on Russia, will be thorough and complete without intervention and would you about confident on his recommendations?

COMEY: Yes, Bob Mueller is one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced. He will do it well. He’s a dogged-tough person and you can have high confidence when he’s done, he’s turned over all of the rocks.

MANCHIN: You’ve been asked a wide variety of questions and we’re going to have more in our classified hearing. Something else I like to ask folks when they come here, what details of the saga should we be focused on and recommend that we do differently? To adjust our perspective on this.

COMEY: I don’t know. One of the reasons I’m pleased to be here I think this committee has shown the American people although we have two parties and we disagree on things we can work together when it comes to the country. So I would hope that you would just keep doing what you’re doing. And it’s a good example for kids. That it’s good in and of itself but we are an adult democracy.

MANCHIN: You mentioned six times on the phone with president did you ever allude that you were performing inadequately? —

COMEY: No, quite the contrary. I was about to get on a helicopter one time. The head of the DEA was in the helicopter waiting for me. He called in to check in and tell me I was doing an awesome job. And wanted to see how I was doing. I said I’m doing fine, sir. Then I finished the call and got on the helicopter.

MANCHIN: Mr. Comey, do you believe you would have been fired if Hillary Clinton became president?

COMEY: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t know.

MANCHIN: Have you had any thoughts about it?

COMEY: I might have been. I don’t know. Look, I’ve said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. I think I did what I had to do. I knew it was going to be very bad for me personally. And the consequences might have been if Hillary Clinton was elected I might have been terminated. I don’t know. I really don’t.

MANCHIN: My final question, after the February 14th meeting in the oval office you mentioned to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Did you ever consider why Attorney General Sessions was not asked to stay in the room?

COMEY: Oh, sure. I did. And have. And in that moment, I knew —

MANCHIN: Did you ever talk to him about it?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: You never had a discussion with Jeff sessions on this?

COMEY: No, not at all.

MANCHIN: On any of your meetings?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: Did he inquire? Did he show any inquiry whatsoever what was that meeting about?

COMEY: No — you’re right. I did say to him. I’d forgotten this, I talked to him and said you have to be between me and the president and that’s incredibly important. I forgot my exact words I passed along my the president’s message about the leaks. I passed that along to the attorney general I think it was the next morning in the meeting. But I did not tell him about the Flynn part.

MANCHIN: Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?

COMEY: I don’t know, that’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out. .

MANCHIN: Thank you, sir.

SEN. TOM COTTON: Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Cotton.

COTTON: Mr. Comey, you’re encouraged.president will release the tapes will you encourage Mr. Mueller to release your memos?

COMEY: Sure.

COTTON: You said you did not record your conversations with President Obama or President Bush in memos. Did you do so with Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other senior member of the trump Department of Justice?

COMEY: No. I think — I am sorry.

COTTON: Did you record conversations or memos with the attorney general or any other senior member of the Obama administration?

COMEY: No.

COTTON: Two phone calls, four phone calls are not discussed in your statement, for the record. What happens in those phone calls?

COMEY: The president called me I believe shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on January the 6th. He just wanted to reiterate his rejection of that allegation and talk about—- he’d thought about it more. And why he thought it wasn’t true. The verified — unverified parts. And during that call, he asked me again, hope you’re going to say. You’re doing a great job. I told him that I intended to. There was another phone call that I mentioned could have the date wrong, March 1st, where he called just to check in with me as I was about to get on the hospital. It was a secure call we had about an operational matter that is not related to any of this. Something that the FBI is working on. He wanted to make sure I understood how important he thought it was. A totally appropriate call. And then the fourth call, probably forgetting — may have been — I may have met the call when he called to invite me to dinner. I’ll think about it as I’m answering other questions but I think I got that right.

COTTON: Let’s turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here. Russia’s hacking of those e-mails and the allegation of collusion. Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?

COMEY: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an opening setting. As I said, when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation, I think.

COTTON: Let me turn to a couple statements by one of my colleagues, Senator Feinstein. She was the ranking member on this committee until January, which means that she had access to information that only she and Chairman Burr did. She’s now the senior Democrat on the FBI Committee, which means she had access to information that many of us don’t. On May 3rd on the Wolf Blitzer show she was asked “Do you believe you have evidence that in fact that there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign? She answered not at this time. On May 18th, on the same show, Mr. Blitzer said, “The last time you came on this show I I asked if you had seen any evidence that Russia had colluded with the Trump campaign.” You said not at this time. Has anything changed since we last spoke? Senator Feinstein said no, it hasn’t. Do you have any reason to doubt those statements?

COMEY: I don’t doubt that the Senator Feinstein understood what she said. I just don’t want to go down that route anymore because I’m — I want to be fair to President Trump.I am not trying to suggest something nefarious but I don’t want to get into the business of not to this person, not to that person.

COTTON: On February 14th the New York Times published the story, the headline of which was “Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence.” You were asked if that as an inaccurate story. Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?

COMEY: Yes.

COTON: Do you have — at the time the story was published, any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?

COMEY: That’s one I can’t answer sitting here.

COTTON: We can discuss that in the classified setting then. I want to turn your attention now to Mr. Flynn. The allegations of his underlying conduct to be specific. His alleged interactions with the Russian ambassador on the telephone and then what he said to senior Trump administration officials and Department of Justice officials. I understand there are other issues with Mr. Flynn related to his receipt of foreign monies or disclosure ever official advocacy, those are serious allegations that I’m sure will be pursued but I want to speak specifically about his interactions with the Russian ambassador. There’s a story on January 23rd in The Washington Post that says, entitled “FBI reviewed calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit.” Is this story accurate?

COMEY: I don’t want to comment ton that senator. I’m pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications. So, I don’t want to talk about that in an opening setting.

COTTON: Would it be improper for an incoming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador?

COMEY: In my experience, no.

COTTON: But you can’t confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it in fact was proper.

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that opening setting. Again, I’ve been out of government a month. So, I also don’t want to talk about things when it’s now somebody else’s responsibility. But maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that.

COTTON: You stated earlier that there was an open investigation of Mr. Flynn and the FBI. Did you or any FBI agent ever sense that Mr. Flynn attempted to deceive you or make false states to an FBI agent?

COMEY: I don’t want to go too far. That was the subject of the criminal inquiry.

COTTON: Did you ever come close to closing the investigation on Mr. Flynn?

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that in open setting either.

COTTON: We can discuss these more in the closed setting then. Mr. Comey, in 2004, you were a part of a well-publicized event about an intelligence program that had been recertified several times. And you were acting attorney general when Attorney General John Ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. There was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. The next day you said you that wrote the letter of resignation, signed it, went to meet with President Bush and explained why you produced to certify it is that accurate?

COMEY: Yes.

COTTON: At anytime during FBI director did you ever write and sign a letter of resignation?

COMEY: Letter of resignation? No, sir.

COTTON: Despite all of off that testified to today you didn’t feel this rose to a level of honest difference of opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode.

COMEY: I wouldn’t characterize the events in 2004 that way but to answer, no, I didn’t find, encounter any circumstance that led me intend to resign, consider to resign. No, sir.

COTTON: Thank you.

BURR: Senator Harris.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Director Comey, I want to thank you you are now a private citizen and you’re enduring a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Each of us gets seven minutes instead of five to ask you questions, thank you.

COMEY: I’m between opportunities now so —

HARRIS: You are — I’m sure you’ll have future opportunities. You and I are both former prosecutors. I’m not going to require to you answer. I just want to make a statement that in my experience of prosecuting cases when a robber held a gun to somebody’s head and said I hope you will give me your wallet, the word hope was not the operative word at that moment. But you don’t have to respond to that point. I have a series of questions to ask you. And they’re going to start with: Are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and Russia officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the White House?

COMEY: That’s not — even if I remembered clearly, that’s not a question I can answer in open setting.

HARRIS: Are you aware of any questions by Trump campaign officials or associates of the campaign to hide their communications with Russia officials through encrypted means?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

HARRIS: In the course of the FBI’s investigation did you ever come across anything that suggested that communication, records, documents or other evidence had been destroyed?

COMEY: I think a got to give you the aim answer is because it would touch on investigative matters.

HARRIS: And are you a wear of any potential efforts to conceal between campaign officials and Russian officials?

COMEY: I have to give you the aim answer is.

HARRIS: Thank you. As a former attorney general, I have a series of questions in connection with your connection with the attorney general while you were FBI director. What is your understanding of the parameters of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation?

COMEY: I think it’s described in a written release from DOJ which I don’t remember sitting here but the gist is he will be recused from all matters relating to Russia or the campaign. Or the activities of Russia and the ’16 election or something like that.

HARRIS: So, is your knowledge of the extent of the recusal based on the public statements he’s made?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: Is there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general to the FBI outlining the parameters of his recusal?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of.

HARRIS: Do you know if he reviewed any DOJ documents before he was recused?

COMEY: I don’t know.

HARRIS: And after he was recused. I’m assuming same answer?

COMEY: Same answer.

HARRIS: And aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was what process would be to make sure that the attorney general would not have any connection to the investigation torsion your knowledge?

COMEY: I don’t know for sure. I know he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at DOJ. But I don’t know what mechanism they set up.

HARRIS: And the attorney general recused himself from the investigation, do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the chief investigator of that case that had Russia interference?

COMEY: It’s something that I can’t answer sitting here. It’s a reasonable question. It would depend on a lot of things I don’t know, like did he know, what was he told, did he realize the investigation, things like that. I just don’t know the answer.

HARRIS: You mentioned in your testimony that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. Are you aware of him making the same request of any other member the cabinet?

COMEY: I don’t know one way or another. I’ve never heard anything about it.

HARRIS: You mentioned you had the conversation where he hoped that you would let the Flynn matter go on February 14. Or thereabouts. It’s my understanding that Mr. Sessions was recused from any involvement in the investigation, about a full two weeks later. To your knowledge, was the attorney general, did he have access to information about the investigation in those two weeks?

COMEY: In theory, sure. Because he’s the attorney general. I don’t know whether he had any contact with materials related to that.

HARRIS: To your knowledge was there any directive that he should not have any contact with any information about the Russian investigation between the February 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused himself on March 2nd.

COMEY: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know one way or another.

HARRIS: And did you speak to the attorney general about the Russia investigation about his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t think so, no.

HARRIS: Do you know if anyone in the department, in the FBI, forwarded any documents or information on memos of any sort, to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t know of any or remember any signaturing here. It’s possible.

HARRIS: Do you know if the attorney general was involved, in fact, involved in any aspect of the Russia investigation after the 2nd of March?

COMEY: I don’t. I would assume not. Let me say this way, I don’t know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the Russia investigation after recusal.

HARRIS: In your written testimony, you indicate that after you were left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. And apparently, he did not reply. And you wrote that he did not reply. What did he do, if anything? Did he just look at you? Was there a pause for a moment, what happened?

COMEY: I don’t remember real clearly. I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me. It was a danger I’m projecting on to him so this might be a faulty memory. But I kind of got — his body language gave me a sense like what am I going to do.

HARRIS: Did he shrug?

COMEY: I don’t remember clearly. I think the reason I have that impression is I have some recollection of almost imperceptible like what am I going to do. But I don’t have a clear recollection of that of that. He didn’t say anything.

HARRIS: On that same February 14th meeting you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. After that meeting, however, you received two calls from the president March 30th and April 11th, where the president talked about cloud over his presidency. Has anything you’ve learned in the months since your February 14 meeting changed your understanding of the president’s request — ¶I guess that would be what he said in public documents or public interviews?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: And is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or, or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth?

COMEY: No. The appointment of a special counsel should offer great — especially given who that person is, great comfort to Americans. No matter what your political affiliation is, that this will be done independently, confidently and honestly.

HARRIS: And do you believe he should have full authority, Mr. Mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation?

COMEY: Yes. And knowing him well, over the years, if there’s something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it.

HARRIS: Do you believe he should have full independence?

COMEY: Oh, yeah. And he wouldn’t be part of if he wasn’t going to get full Independence.

HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CORNYN: Mr. Comey I’ll repeat what I said in previous hearings that I believe you’re a good and decent man who has been dealt with a difficult hand starting back with the Clinton e-mail investigation. I appreciate you being here voluntarily to cooperation with the investigation. As a general matter, if an FBI agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do they have a duty to report it?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I don’t know that there’s a legal duty to report it. They certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it.

CORNYN: You’re unsure whether they would have a legal duty?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I have not thought about that before. There’s a statute that prohibits the felony, knowing a felony and taking steps to conceal it but that’s a different question. Let me be clear, I would expect any FBI agent who has information about a crime to report it.

CORNYN: Me, too.

COMEY: But where you rest that obligation, I don’t know. It exists.

CORNYN: And let me suggest as a general proposition, if you’re trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an FBI director a good way to make that happen? By that, I mean —

COMEY: It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I obviously am hopelessly biased given I was the one fired.

CORNYN: I understand it’s personal.

COMEY: Given the nature of the FBI, I meant what I said. For all the indispensable people in the world, including the FBI, there’s lots of bad things for me not being at the FBI, most of them for me, but the work is going to go on.

CORNYN: Nothing that you testified to as to today, has impeded the investigation of the FBI or director Mueller’s ability to get to the bottom of this?

COMEY: Correct. Especially, Director Mueller is a critical part of that equation.

CORNYN: Let me take you back to the Clinton e-mail investigation. I think you’ve been tanked agency a hero or a villain, depending on whose political ox is being gored at many different times during the court of the Clinton e-mail investigation, and even now perhaps.

But you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting Attorney General Loretta Lynch when it came to the Clinton e-mail investigation. You mentioned the characterization that you’d been asked to accept. That this was a matter. And not a criminal investigation. Which you said it was. There was the matter of President Clinton’s meeting on the tarmac. With the sitting attorney general at the time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation. And you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting. But it seems to me that you clearly believe that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the Clinton e-mail investigation. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s fair. I didn’t believe she could credibly decline that investigation. At least not without grievous damage to the Department of Justice and to the FBI.

CORNYN: And under Department of Justice and FBI norms, wouldn’t it have been appropriate for the attorney general, or if she had recused herself which she did not do for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel. That’s essentially what’s happened with director Mueller. Would that have been an appropriate step?

COMEY: Certainly, yes, sir.

CORNYN: And were you aware Ms. Lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and had refused.

COMEY: Yes. From, I think, Congress had — members of congress had repeatedly asked, yes, sir.

CORNYN: Yours truly did on multiple occasions. And that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the Department of Justice which caused you to make what you have described as an incorrectly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself and led to that July press conference?

COMEY: Yes, sir. I ask — after President Clinton, former President Clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, I considered whether I should call for the appointment of a special counsel. And decided that would be an unfair thing to do because I knew there was no case there. We investigated it very, very thoroughly. I know this is a subject of passionate disagreement but I knew there was no case there. And calling for the appointment of special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send the message, uh-huh, there’s something here. That’s my judgment. Lots of people have different views about it but that’s what I thought about it.

CORNYN: Well if a special counsel had been appointed they could have made that determination there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right?

COMEY: Sure. But it would have been many months later or a year later.

CORNYN: Let me just you ask to — given the experience of the Clinton e-mail investigation and what happened there. Do you think it’s unreasonable for anyone, any president, who has been assured on multiple occasions that he’s not the subject of an FBI investigation, do you think it’s unreasonable for them to want the FBI director to publicly announce that, so that this cloud over his administration would be removed?

COMEY: I think that’s a reasonable point of view. The concern would be, obviously, because as that boomerang comes back it’s going to be a very big deal because there will be a duty to correct.

CORNYN: Well, we saw that in the Clinton e-mail investigation.

COMEY: Yes, I recall that.

CORNYN: I know you do. So, let me ask you, finally, in the minute we have left. There was this conversation back and forth about loyalty. And I think we all appreciate the fact that an FBI director is an unique public official in the sense he’s not — he’s a political appointee in one sense. But he has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the United States. And so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth about, well, I’ll pledge you my honesty. Then it looks like from what I’ve read you agreed upon honest loyalty. Is that the characterization?

COMEY: Yes.

CORNYN: Thank you very much.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: Former FBI Director James Comey’s Opening Statement to Senate Intelligence Committee about President Donald Trump

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

James Comey’s prepared testimony

Source: Senate Intelligence Committee, 6-7-17

Statement for the Record

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017
Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.
January 6 Briefing
I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing,
I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.
Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the Intelligence chiefs won’t say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe question, I offered that assurance.
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.
January 27 Dinner
The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.
It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.
The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.
Comey’s opening statement posted online 05:00
My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.
I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.
Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term — honest loyalty — had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.
February 14 Oval Office Meeting
On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National CounterTerrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.
The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.
How James Comey is preparing for this moment 02:30
When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.
The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information — a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”
The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.
I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.
The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members — or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them — aware of the President’s request.
Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened — him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind — was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.
March 30 Phone Call
On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.
Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week — at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.
In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.
He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.
April 11 Phone Call
On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White
House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
###

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the FBI

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Source: WH, 6-7-17

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Christopher A. Wray for the position of Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Mr. Wray is currently a partner at King & Spalding, an international law firm.

Mr. Wray has been recognized throughout his career as a leader in the field of white-collar criminal defense and government investigations. As Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice from 2003 to 2005, Mr. Wray helped address the surge of corporate fraud scandals that plagued our financial markets. Upon his departure from the Department, Mr. Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Department’s highest honor for public service and leadership. Mr. Wray graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1989 and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1992.

“I am proud to announce Christopher as my choice as the Director of the FBI. During his previous service at the Department of Justice, Christopher was the leader of major fraud investigations, and was a key part of the team overseeing the Justice Department’s actions in the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attacks,” said President Trump. “He is an impeccably qualified individual, and I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI.

“It is a great honor to be selected by the President to return to the Department of Justice as Director of the FBI,” said Mr. Wray. “I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country.”

Full Text Political Transcripts January 21, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at CIA Headquarters

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Remarks at CIA Headquarters

(as delivered)

Thank you.

Well. I want to thank everybody. Very, very special people. And it is true: this is my first stop. Officially. We’re not talking about the balls, and we’re not talking about even the speeches. Although, they did treat me nicely on that speech yesterday [laughter].

I always call them “the dishonest media”, but they treated me nicely.

But, I want to say that there is nobody that feels stronger about the Intelligence Community and the CIA than Donald Trump. [applause]. There’s Nobody. Nobody.

And the wall behind me is very very special. We’ve been touring for quite a while. And I’ll tell you what: twenty … nine? I can’t believe it.. No. Twenty eight. We’ve got to reduce it. That’s amazing. And we really appreciate it what you ‘ve done in terms of showing us something very special. And your whole group. These are really special, amazing people. Very. very few people could do the job you people do.

And I want to just let you know: I am so behind you. And I know, maybe sometimes, you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted. And you’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’re going to say “please don’t give us so much backing”. [laughter] “Mr President, please, we don’t need that much backing”.

But you’re going to have that. And I think everybody in this room knows it.

You know, the military, and the law-enforcement generally speaking, — but, all of it — but the military, gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military and probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. [laughter]

But I would guarantee a big portion. Because we’re all on the same wavelength, folks. We’re all on the same wavelength. [applause] Alight? [pointing to the crowd] He knows. Took Brian about 30 seconds to figure that one out, right? Because we know. We’re on the same wavelength.

We’re going to do great things. We’re going to do great things. We’ve been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we’ve ever fought. We have not used the real abilities that we have. We’ve been restrained.

We have to get rid of ISIS. We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice [applause]

Radical Islamic terrorism – and I said it yesterday – has to be eradicated. Just off the face of the Earth. This is evil. This is evil.

And you know, I can understand the other side. We can all understand the other side. There can be wars between countries. There can be wars. You can understand what happened. This is something nobody could even understand. This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen.

You’re going to go to it, and you’re going to do a phenomenal job. But we’re going to end it. It’s time. It’s time right now to end it.

You have somebody coming on who is extraordinary. You know for the different positions, of secretary of this and secretary of that and all of these great positions, I’d see five, six, seven, eight people.

And we had a great transition. We had an amazing team of talent.

And by the way, General Flynn is right over here. Put up your hand, Mike. What a good guy [applause]

And Reince, and my whole group. Reince. You know Reince? They don’t care about Reince. He’s like, this political guy that turned out to be a superstar, right? We don’t have to talk about Reince.

But, we did. We had just such a tremendous, tremendous success.

So when I’m interviewing all of these candidates that Reince and his whole group is putting in front, it went very, very quickly, and in this case went so quickly. Because I would see six or seven or eight for secretary of agriculture, who we just named the other day. Sunny Perdue. Former Governor of Georgia. Fantastic guy. But I’d see six, seven, eight people for a certain position. Everybody wanted it.

But I met Mike Pompeo, and he was the only guy I met. I didn’t want to meet anybody else. I said “cancel everybody else”. Cancel. Now he was approved, essentially. But they’re doing a little political games with me. You know, he was one of the three.

Now, last night, as you know, General Mattis – fantastic guy – and General Kelly got approved [applause]

And Mike Pompeo was supposed to be in that group; it was going to be the three of them. Can you imagine? All of these guys. People respect … they respect that military sense. All my political people? They’re not doing so well. The political people aren’t doing so well… but you … We’re going to get them all through. But some will take a little bit longer than others.

But Mike was literally — I had a group of, what, we had nine different people? — Now. I must say, I didn’t mind cancelling eight appointments. That wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

But I met him, and I said “he is so good”. Number one in his class at West Point. Now, I know a lot about West Point. I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say, I had an uncle who was a great professor at MIT for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many different ways academically. He was an academic genius.

And then they say: “is Donald Trump an intellectual?” Trust me. I’m like a smart person. [laughter] [pointing at Mike Pompeo] And I recognized immediately,

So he was Number 1 at West Point. And he was also essentially number 1 at Harvard Law School. And then he decided to go into the military. And he ran for Congress. And everything he’s done has been a home run.

People like him. But much more importantly to me, everybody respects him.

When I told Paul Ryan that I want to do this, I would say, he may be the only person that was not totally thrilled, right, Mike? Because he said “I don’t want to lose this guy”.

You will be getting a total star. You going to be getting a total gem. He is a gem. And I just …. [applause] You’ll see. You’ll see. And many of you know him anyway. But you’re going to see.

And again: we have some great people going, but this one is something, going to be very special, because this is one of — if I had to name the most important, this would certainly be, perhaps, you know, in certain ways, you could even say my most important.

You do the job like everybody in this room is capable of doing.

And the generals are wonderful and the fighting is wonderful. But if you give them the right direction? Boy does the fighting become easier. And boy do we lose so fewer lives, and win so … quickly.

And that’s what we have to do. We have to start winning again.

You know what? When I was young, And when I was … of course, I feel young. I feel like I’m 30. 35. 39. [laughter]. Somebody said “are you young?” I said “I think I’m young”.

You know, I was stopping when we were in the final month of that campaign. Four stops, five stops. Seven stops. Speeches — speeches — in front of twenty five, thirty thousand people. Fifteen thousand, nineteen thousand, from stop to stop.

I feel young.

But when I was young — and I think we’re all sort of young — when I was young, we were always winning things in this country. We’d win with trade. We’d win with wars.

At a certain age I remember hearing from one of my instructors “The United States has never lost a war”.

And then, after that, it’s like, we haven’t won anything. We don’t win anymore.,

The old expression: “to the victor belong the spoils” – you remember? You always used to say “keep the oil”. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you. When we were in, we got out wrong.

And I always said: “In addition to that, keep the oil”.

Now I said it for economic reasons, but if you think about, Mike, if we kept the oil we would probably wouldn’t have ISIS, because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil.

But okay. [laughter] Maybe we’ll have another chance.

But the fact is: we should’ve kept the oil. I believe that this group is going to be one of the most important groups in this country towards making us safe, towards making us winners again. Towards ending all of the problems — we have so many problems that are interrelated that we don’t even think of, but interrelated — to the kind of havoc and fear that this sick group of people has caused.

So I can only say that I am with you 1000%. And the reason you’re my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. [laughter, applause]

And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the Intelligence Community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number 1 stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that too.

And I was explaining about the numbers. We did a thing yesterday, the speech, and everybody really liked the speech, you had to right? [applause]

We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed.

I get up this morning. I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I say: “wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out. The field was…. It looked like a million, a million and a half people.” They showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there. And they said “Donald Trump did not draw well”. And I said “well it was almost raining”. The rain should have scared them away. But God looked down and he said “we’re not going to let it rain on your speech”.

In fact, when I first started I said “oh no”. First line, I got hit by a couple of drops. And i said “oh, this is too bad, but we’ll go right through it”. But the truth is: that it stopped immediately. It was amazing. And then it became really sudden, and then I walked off and it poured right after I left – it poured.

But you know, we have something that’s amazing because, we had, it looked honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.

And I turn on by mistake and I get this network shows an empty field. And it said we drew 250,000 people.

Now that’s not bad. But it’s a lie. We had 250,000 people literally around, you know, the little bowl that we constructed. That was 250,000 people. The rest of the 20 block area all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.

So we caught them. And we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.

They had another one yesterday which was interesting. In the Oval Office there’s a beautiful statue of Dr Martin Luther King. And I also happen to like Churchill. Winston Churchill. I think most of us like Churchill. He doesn’t come from our country. But he had lot to do with it. He helped us. A real ally.

And as you know, the Churchill statue was taken out. The bust. And as you probably also have read, the Prime Minister is coming over to our country very shortly, and they wanted to know whether or not I’d like it back. And I said “absolutely, but in the meantime we have a bust of Churchill”.

So a reporter for Time magazine. And I have been on their cover like 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all time record in the history of Time magazine. Like it Tom Brady is on the cover of Time magazine, it’s one time, because he won the Superbowl or something, right? [laughter]. I’ve been on for 15 times this year.

I don’t think that’s a record, Mike, that they can ever be broken, do you agree with that? What do you think?

But I will say that, he said something that was very interesting: that “Donald Trump took down the bust, the statue, of Dr Martin Luther King”. It was right there. But there was a cameraman that was in front of it.

So Zeke – Zeke – from Time magazine writes a story about how I took it down. But I would never do that, because I have great respect for Dr Martin Luther King. But this is how dishonest the media is: a big story. And the retraction was like — was it a line? Or did they even bother putting it in?
So I only like to say that because I love honesty. I like honest reporting. I will tell you the final time: although I will say it, when you let in your thousands of other people that had been trying to come in, because I am coming back.

Politics November 6, 2016: November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

 By Bonnie K. Goodman

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016.
Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

In an election cycle with never ending surprise, FBI Director James B. Comey whipped up a November surprise with barely two days left to Election Day. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2016, Comey sent another letter to the chairman of Congressional committee announcing that they have reviewed the newly discovered emails and that the FBI is standing by their July decision not to recommend any criminal charges against the former Secretary of State over her usage of a private email server. The announcement is just as interfering in the election as Comey’s first letter on Oct. 28, and it has been met with criticism from Republicans as a close campaign enters its final two days.

In Comey’s second letter, he informed Congressional leaders that the second investigation had been completed, “Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.”

The FBI Director concluded, “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch disagreed with Comey’s first letter, but on Sunday, the Justice Department issued a brief statement, saying, “The Department of Justice and the FBI dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously.”

The Clinton campaign was relieved after hearing the news but defiant. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it.” While Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director told reporters, “We have seen Director Comey’s latest letter to the Hill. We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was equally pleased with the results of the investigation and its timing. Schiff in a statement expressed,
“While the original letter should never have been sent so close to an election, the expeditious review of these emails should put to rest — once and for all — the irresponsible speculation indulged in by the Trump campaign and others. Voters can now make their decision based on the merits, and that decision should be simple: it is the choice between a woman superbly qualified to be commander in chief, and a man patently unfit for office.”

Not all Democrats were as content one told CNN “It opened a wound that cannot be quickly healed.” Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is still angry at Comey. In a statement, Feinstein said, “Today’s letter makes Director Comey’s actions nine days ago even more troubling. There’s no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency’s inquiry. The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections.”

The Republicans, however, were less than impressed by the November Surprise that might ruin their argument to vote Republican so close to the election. The letter seemed like another election spoiler. Trump spokesman Jason Miller commented on CNN, “We thought that Director Comey and the FBI were wrong when they made their initial recommendation in July, and we think that they’re wrong now.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed the letter, saying, “Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security,” Ryan said in a statement. “Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed with Ryan, stating, “None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.”

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence hammered Clinton at “a rally in an airport hanger in Hickory, North Carolina,” saying, “Mishandling classified information is a crime. Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information and the director of the FBI told the Congress classified information was sent.”

Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke very little about the letter at his rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which began minutes after the news broke. The GOP nominee, however, renewed his call of a rigged system, claiming, “Well, you have to understand it’s a rigged system and she’s protected.” Top Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich concurred on Twitter, accusing, “Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this.”

In July, Comey announced his decision not to prosecute Clinton after a lengthy FBI investigation. Comey said on July 5, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Although Comey expressed, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he called Clinton’s handling of her emails “extremely careless.” Clinton has always dismissed the issue as merely a “mistake” of judgment.

Then on Friday, Oct. 28, Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee Chairman informing them that the FBI uncovered new “pertinent” emails relating to the Clinton investigation in an unrelated case, and advised that the FBI would be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. Abedin denied knowing the emails were ever on her husband’s laptop; she had been cooperating with authorities on the matter.

Initially sources claimed the emails were not duplicates of those the FBI already reviewed, but it turns out they were all copies. FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The Bureau was granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. The probe was supposed not to be complete before the election, but pressure from the White House forced the FBI to complete the investigation before. The FBI used computers programs to scan and the emails and compared with those they already they had in the possession.

Initially, Comey faced praise from Trump’s campaign but was attacked and criticized by Clinton her campaign, Congressional supporters, most Democrats and President Barack Obama for the timing of the letter. Democrats in Congress even threatened to investigate Comey and the FBI for the timing of the letter, which interfered in the election a long known taboo.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder who formally instituted a policy in 2012 preventing investigations from interfering with elections wrote an editorial in the Washington Post criticizing Comey. Holder joined 100 Justice Department writing an open letter telling Comey his “letter to Congress was inconsistent with prevailing department policy, that it broke with longstanding practices followed during past elections and that they were astonished and perplexed.”

Now the Republicans and still some Democrats are criticizing Comey with good reason. Comey has played with the voters’ emotions and the election. Clinton may have received her all clear before the election, but Clinton lost her lead the contest is now close between Trump and Clinton, with Trump eclipsing Clinton is some crucial battleground states. The first letter united Republicans and saw them rallying around the nominee. The electoral map shifted in Trump’s favor after the first letter, will the second letter flip it back to Clinton or will voters remain wary of a scandal and investigation prone Clinton. Only on election night will anyone know how much Comey’s October and then November Surprises affected the 2016 election.

comey-letter-11616

Politics November 3, 2016: Clinton related emails discovered on Weiner’s computer, not duplicates

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Clinton related emails discovered on Weiner’s computer, not duplicates

By Bonnie  K. Goodman

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 03: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The U.S. presidential general election is November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, NC – NOVEMBER 03: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The U.S. presidential general election is November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The emails the FBI discovered on former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer relate to former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure and are not duplicates. CBS News spoke to an official involved in the investigation and reported on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, that the emails James B.Comey referred to his letter renewing the investigation are from Clinton’s tenure and the FBI has never seen them before.

The source told CBS generally about the emails but did provide details on the number of emails discovered that are specifically related to Clinton and if they are “significant” to their probe into whether she mishandled classified information by using a private server. According to a report conducted by CBS News’ Andres Triay, “At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.”

On Friday, Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee Chairman informing them that the FBI uncovered new “pertinent” emails relating to the Clinton investigation in an unrelated case, and advised that the FBI would be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. Abedin denied knowing the emails were ever on her husband’s laptop; she has been cooperating with authorities on the matter.

FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The Bureau was granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. Comey has faced praised from Trump’s campaign but criticism and attacks from Clinton her campaign and Congressional supporters and now President Barack Obama for the timing of the letter.

The investigation is not going to be complete before the election. An official spoke to USA Today and indicated that neither would the FBI provide updates throughout the investigation or give the results of their preliminary probe despite repeated calls from Democrats and Clinton’s campaign to do so. Another source told Reuters, Comey was motivated to send the letter to Congress to have control over the investigation and prevent leaks from the Bureau.

Politics November 1, 2016: Voters not too bothered by renewed Clinton email investigation, but why?

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Voters not too bothered by renewed Clinton email investigation, but why?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton speak during a debate watch party at Craig Ranch Regional Amphitheater following the third U.S. presidential debate at UNLV on October 19, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight was the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 19: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton speak during a debate watch party at Craig Ranch Regional Amphitheater following the third U.S. presidential debate at UNLV on October 19, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight was the final debate ahead of Election Day on November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Three new polls show that American voters do not seem to care very much about the FBI Director James B. Comey’s renewed investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email server, which is troubling. On Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 66 percent of voters say the new probe is not going to change how they vote. Meanwhile, in the first national Politico/Morning Consult poll released after the news from FBI on Monday, Oct. 31, Clinton still maintains her same three-point lead over Republican nominee Donald Trump. Even worse, in the latest the Reuters/Ipsos survey released on Monday, Clinton has 5-point lead over Trump. Although this good news for Clinton it does not say much about the judgment of the American voters where an FBI investigation does not matter when the person in question wants to be president.

With a week left before the election, Clinton still holds on to her lead in the latest national Politico/Morning Consult poll. Clinton has the support of 42 percent of voters to Trump’s 39 percent support in a four-way race. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has 7 percent support, while Green Party nominee Jill Stein has 5 percent. Clinton still maintains her lead in a two-way race with 46 percent to Trump’s 43 percent.

The poll also asked voters how they felt about Clinton’s renewed email scandal. Fortunately at least a minority find it troubling, and it will now to affect how the vote on Nov. 8. According to the poll, 33 percent say they are “less likely” to vote for Clinton after the news broke, while 39 percent of Americans say it will not sway their vote. However, 45 percent “agreed with Trump” Clinton’s email scandal is worse than Watergate. The ABC News/Washington Post poll seems to concur; determining that 34 percent of voters are less likely to vote for Clinton after newly discovered emails forced the FBI to renew their investigation into Clinton.

Even more troubling is a third poll released Monday, the Reuters/Ipsos survey gave Clinton a five-point lead. In the survey, Clinton has 44 percent support to Trump’s 39 percent in a two-way race. The polls give Clinton a six percent lead in a four-way race, Clinton has 43 percent support to Trump’s 37 percent, while Johnson has six percent with Stein at just one percent.

On Friday morning, Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee leaders informing them of a new development the discovery of news and that the FBI will be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The bureau was just granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. Comey has faced praised from Trump’s campaign but criticism and attacks from Clinton her campaign and Congressional supporters for the timing of the letter.

Voters’ attitude toward the renewed investigation is surprising. We live in a society that still despite advances for many demographic groups views criminal activity, whether suspected, questionable or convicted with abhorrence. The mantra might be innocent until proven guilty, but in the public opinion, any question, nevermind an arrest is enough to convict in the court of public opinion. In the United States criminals even lose their voting right when convicted.

This same opinion is not just reserved for the average person, or demographic groups that the public feel are more prone to get involved in criminal activity sometimes based just on social circumstance but usually for our politicians. Americans put leaders to a higher standard and claim they want them to have with impeccable morals. Former President Richard Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up is forever seared as the standard-bearer. Although he worked hard to rehabilitate his image as the elder statesman, he was still considered by many a “crook.” The sex scandals that are discovered are enough to usually get a politician banished for life, never mind any hint or whiff of political corruption.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has felt the burn enough this campaign cycle much to the hypocrisy. His comments calling some Mexicans immigrants criminals calling for a wall on the border with Mexico were derided as racist, but privately many who do not consider themselves racist feel the same, or rationalize it as a class issue rather one of race. The same about Muslim immigrants, many want to consider themselves open-minded, but secretly are afraid maybe some do have terrorist leanings, possibly avoiding interactions with Muslims because of their fears. The same people were outraged at Trump’s position.

Then there was Trump’s 2005 tape bragging about groping women because of celebrity status, and his failed attempt at an affair with a married woman. The tape and the 12 women accusing Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior mostly unwanted kisses and hugs nearly destroyed his campaign. The public was already writing his campaign obituary, and arguing when he refused to say whether he would concede the election. The public and news media were being presumptuous arguing and insulting over a hypothetical situation three weeks before the election when Trump did not lose yet.

The Clintons however, seem to defy every common convention, the logic goes out the door when it comes to former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State and now Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The Clintons have had had scandal after scandal since they entered the political sphere in the 1970 s and it has exacerbated since their entrance onto the national stage in 1992.

There have been strings of “allegations of legal or ethical wrongdoings” that have plagued the Clintons since Bill’s administration (1993-2000). The most notable being Whitewater, Paula Jones sexual harassment case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment never mind the countless smaller ones. Through it, all Clinton maintained his high approval ratings, fiercely defended by Democratic colleagues even remaining in office after becoming only the second president ever impeached. Bill Clinton has been the exception rather than rule with politicians involved in sex scandals.

Hillary Clinton has always appeared as a Lady Macbeth, her scandals after her husband’s presidency only confirm that reputation of ruthless ambition above all. Clinton might have called her private email server as Secretary of State a convenient mistake; it was a shrewd way to manipulate her actions and political future but risking national security and giving a disgraced congressman access to it all unintentionally. Equally troubling is the blurring lines between her post at the State Department and her husbands’ Clinton Foundation. The WikiLeaks released emails from her campaign chairman John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and others in the Clinton circle give an unappealing backstage view at the shrewd Clinton machine; that should not be ignored or dismissed.

One after the other the Clintons blamed someone else, with their favorite being the Republicans, they played the misunderstood victim, the innocents being preyed on, never truly taking responsibility for their actions. The Clintons played the American public, and in turn, they bought continuing their devotion and love affair. It either proves American voters are truly stupid or have stone age brains as historian Richard Shenkman argues, or the Clintons’ are master manipulators whose put on charm is truly inescapable.

Academics and pundits are defending Clinton’s actions, blaming sexism, Republicans or anything else. These academics and pundits would never tolerate Clinton’s behavior in their personal situations if they even suspected someone they knew behaved a similar manner they would throw stones, cut ties and blacklist making sure they are banished forever. Still, they continue to compromise their principals for an op-ed, a quote, radio or TV appearance book sales some professional attention. Too many academics and pundits see the Clintons’ scandals as fueling their careers, and they are milking it if she becomes president staying on the right side will gain them a favor. Keeping up with the popular position whether ethically sound or not shows they are morally not too far from the Clintons themselves.

There is no way to defend a criminal repeat offender, and there is no excuse for the Clintons’ repeated scandals, nothing justifies it after all this time. Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom has come out to deride the Clintons’ repeated scandals in a recent radio interview calling the Democratic nominee a “pathological liar.” Kallstrom agrees with Comey’s decision to send the letter to Congress notifying them of the renewed investigation, saying, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime.”

It is not hatred, antipathy or anything else, upright and moral Americans, for the most part, want justice, they believe that politicians and leaders should be treated the same way they would in similar situations, the problem is the Clintons always escape that justice and that is the only reason for the animosity. They appear, act and behave like a ruling class when we live in a democracy.

Is it not because Clinton is a woman, her scandals and how far she has come, proves she plays the game better than any man does, and maybe even better than her husband. Clinton’s main advantage is as Trump accuses overusing the woman card, while she and her defenders cry out sexism; they use that as the top excuse to get away with anything. Neither is about her being a Democrat; there are many fine Democrats whose morality is without reproach including our current President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Obama tolerates Clinton for the ambition of securing his legacy, while Biden commended FBI Director Comey and reminded the public he would have won the primary and been the nominee.

The poll results are disheartening it shows American voters particularly Democrats are cutting themselves short and have been doing so since the primaries. They want justice and morality for everyone but their future president if the name is Clinton. So many scandals, an FBI investigation over Clinton’s head, how can even the staunchest Democrat accept that after all, this time it is not a witch-hunt there has to be some truth to the accusations. I had a professor who once claimed in a seminar that it is fine to be a hypocrite as long as one knows they are. He was wrong, it is never right to be a hypocrite, it is wrong if one knows they are, and it only worse when they do not realize it, and that is this election’s greatest problem.

Politics October 30, 2016: FBI Director Comey’s courageous decision to rise above politics in reopening Clinton case

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FBI Director Comey’s courageous decision to rise above politics in reopening Clinton case

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27:  FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee September 27, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Fifteen Years After 9/11: Threats to the Homeland."  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 27: FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee September 27, 2016, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on “Fifteen Years After 9/11: Threats to the Homeland.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

FBI Director James B. Comey put his conscience before politics when he sent a letter to Congressional leaders informing them that the FBI found new “pertinent” emails relating to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email case. Comey faces threats and opposition to revealing the news a little over a week before Election Day. According to news reports on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, the Justice Department and Attorney General Loretta Lynch was against Comey’s letter and warned him against it. Now the Clinton campaign is struggling to survive the devastating blow so close the election with the only way they know to attack the FBI director and dismiss it all yet again.

An anonymous government source revealed that Lynch was against Comey interfering in the presidential race. The source explained, “The AG’s position is consistent with the department’s position not to take investigative steps that would influence an election so close to an election and to not comment on ongoing investigations. Director Comey decided to operate independently of that guidance by sending that letter to the Hill.”

Lynch did not speak directly to Comey on the issue but staying out of the election, has long been the silent policy for federal officials. The source said, “The position of the department was made clear to the FBI.” In 2012, former Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo on the practice, writing, “Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose is inconsistent with the Department’s mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution.” Such a memo reeks of politics and a desire of ambition above the good of the nation.

Comey knew his letter, and the developments would be unpopular and misunderstood, but he believed it was necessary to make them public. The FBI director wrote a note to his staffers before sending the letter to Congress, explaining his motives, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.” The FBI is supposed to a politically independent agency. Comey only discovered news of the emails on Thursday, Oct. 27, while FBI agents knew about them since early October keeping them from their director and possibly influencing the presidential campaign.

Comey’s sending the letter of Congressional Committee Chairmen has rocked the 2016 presidential campaign and has become “the October Surprise” in what was already a rollercoaster of a campaign ride. Republican nominee Donald Trump has praised Comey profusely and Democrats mostly nominee Clinton’s campaign staff have criticized the FBI director. Both sides have been demanding that Comey provides more details about the investigation and the possible content of the emails. Comey keeps his hand close and will probably not reveal more details publicly until he is certain of the probe’s direction.

On Friday, Oct. 26, hours after the news broke; Clinton spoke to reporters during her campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. Clinton demanded, “We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important election of our lifetimes…. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately.” Clinton was also insistent selling the line; the new emails “will not change the conclusion.” On Saturday, Clinton continued her criticism during a campaign rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. Clinton accused, “It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election. In fact, it’s not just strange, it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

Clinton’s running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine also slammed Comey’s lettersaying interview on Friday with Vice News. Kaine echoed his running mate, saying, “When you do this 11 days before a presidential election and you don’t provide many details, but details are apparently being given by the FBI to the press, this is very, very troubling, and we hope that the director- and we really think that he should give a clearer accounting of exactly whats going on right now.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), “the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee” was furious at Comey sending the letter so late in the campaign. Feinstein issued a statement on Friday, attacking the director, “The FBI has a history of extreme caution near election day so as not to influence the results. Today’s break from that tradition is appalling.”

The news initially paralyzed Clinton’s campaign on Friday. On Saturday, the Clinton campaign seemed set to be at war and attack the FBI director for his decision. According to CNN, campaign officials were critical calling Comey’s letter “light on facts” and “heavy on innuendo.” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta “accused” Comey of not being “forthcoming with the facts,” and “providing selective information.” Writing on Medium on Saturday, Podesta also expressed that the FBI Director’s decision was “bewildering” and “unfair to voters.”

Campaign manager Robby Mook had harsher words for the FBI director, saying “The Justice Department’s longstanding practice is: Don’t do anything seen as trying to influence an election. It’s completely unfair to Secretary Clinton and it’s really unfair to the voters.” The Clinton camp intends to attack Comey for being a Republican, praise the FBI’s professionalism and tout the director’s decision in July not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton and his subsequent testimony to Congress in September in an attempt to downplay the disastrous news.

What is uncertain is how the news will affect long-time Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s role in the campaign. After all, her and her husband’s disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner’s devices that had the emails in question. The federal investigation into her husband sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl prompted the investigation and led to the discovery.

Trump has long said Abedin’s marriage to Weiner was a liability to Clinton, even now, as they are separated. Trump commented at a campaign stop on Saturday in Golden, Colorado questioning, “Huma’s been a problem. I wonder if Huma’s going to stay there. I hope they haven’t given Huma immunity because it seemed that everybody that walked down the sidewalk got immunity. She knows the real story. She knows what’s going on.” Abedin was noticeably absent on Saturday as Clinton campaign in the battleground state of Florida.

The information the FBI discovered must have been damaging or Comey would not have broken ranks. No matter the content the fact that former disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner had access on his computer to any State Department emails, documents or work product is in itself troubling and demonstrates a risk to national security, something Trump has long warned the public concerning.

An anonymous official told the Los Angeles Times, the emails were not to or from Clinton and some might be repetitive, while Fox News reported that the FBI found tens of thousands State Department emails on Weiner’s computer. Comey felt the public needed to know all the facts before voting; it would have irresponsible to hide the facts. Should the information be damaging, the nation cannot face the divisiveness of another Watergate scandal, when terrorism threatens the country and the world, Comey did not want to be responsible for that.

The Clintons repeated scandals and the changing stories around her email server and handling of classified information made the new development all the more necessary to share to the electorate for them to make the most informed decision as possible, even if the Democrats, Clinton campaign, and Obama Administration do not like it. Throughout their national public life, the Clintons have a had a steady stream of scandals, blaming them on their opponents, repeatedly calling them unfair attacks, dismissing them as reasons why they should continue to go on without lasting consequences. Their entitlement has gone too far and too long as the nation and voters continually give them a free pass. National security in a dangerous era is on the line now, it is the FBI’s duty to above all else to “protect and defend” the country and “uphold criminal laws,” the nation needs to know if a potential president is deserving and abiding by the rules.

Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom has come out to deride the Clintons’ repeated scandals in a recent radio interview calling the Democratic nominee a “pathological liar.” Kallstrom agrees with Comey’s decision to send the letter, saying, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.” Kallstrom says FBI officials were angry at the original investigation, which was essentially stifled by the White House. Kallstrom fervently believes Clinton’s action should prevent her from the presidency, expressing, “God forbid we put someone like that in the White House.”

As the nation’s highest law enforcement agent, Comey felt that his duty to his country superseded politics or the desire of President Barack Obama to secure his legacy. The Clinton’s campaign attacks on Comey show a lack of respect to law enforcement, proving that for the Clintons’ no matter what they say public service is not about the public but what is best for their ambitions. No matter who wins the election, the public should applaud and revere Comey’s decision to place the country’s safety before politics; his decision to rise above it all is the ideal of what law enforcement is all about.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics October 28, 2016: FBI is reopening Clinton email investigation is it the October Surprise of 2016?

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FBI is reopening Clinton email investigation is it the October Surprise of 2016?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chats with her staff, including aide Huma Abedin (L), onboard her plane in White Plains, New York, October 22, 2016, on her way to a campaign event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chats with her staff, including aide Huma Abedin (L), onboard her plane in White Plains, New York, October 22, 2016, on her way to a campaign event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is the gift the keeps on giving. Just over a week before the election on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, the FBI reopened their investigation into Clinton’s private server after finding new relevant emails. Chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the first to announce the reopening of the investigation after receiving a letter from FBI Director James B. Comey. NBC News became the first news source to report on the investigation. The news media is hailing the turn of the events the October Surprise of 2016.

On Friday morning, Oct. 28 Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted: “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.” Chaffetz announced the news after FBI Director Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional chairmen including Chaffetz informing them of their decision to reopen the case.

In the letter, Comey writes, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

According to the Associated Press, the new emails were not sent or received from the private email server Clinton used during her tenure as Secretary of State. According to the New York Times, the emails came from the electronic devices from Clinton’s most trusted aide, Huma Abedin owned by her and soon to be ex-husband Anthony Weiner. The emails were found during an investigation into Weiner, a former Congressman over allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl by sending “sexually explicit text messages.”

The FBI quickly seized the devices and after being briefed Comey decided to reopen his investigation into Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State. However, Comey would not indicate how long the renewed investigation would last as he reported to the Congressional chairmen. Comey concluded in the letter, “Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”

Republican nominee Donald Trump was quick to seize on the news what could be his best opportunity to capture the White House. Trump commented on the new development during his rally in Manchester, N.H. announcing the news to his supporters. Trump expressed, “This is bigger than Watergate” and admitted the system “might not be as rigged as I thought.”

The GOP nominee declared, “Hillary Clinton’s corruption is on a scale we have never seen before. We must not let her take her criminal scheme into office. I have great respect for the FBI and Department of Justice are now willing to have the courage to right the horrible mistake they made.” As Trump was speaking his supporters went wild chanting “lock her up.” Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was equally enthused about the development, writing on Twitter, “A great day in our campaign just got even better.”

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus also issued a statement praising the decision. Priebus said, “The F.B.I.’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just 11 days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be. This stunning development raises serious questions about what records may not have been turned over and why, and whether they show intent to violate the law.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for the Director of Intelligence to cease allowing Clinton receive the national security briefing nominees receive. In his statement, Ryan said, “Yet again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame. She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” Continuing the Speaker demanded, “This decision, long overdue, is the result of her reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators. I renew my call for the Director of National Intelligence to suspend all classified briefings for Secretary Clinton until this matter is fully resolved.”

Meanwhile, Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta responded demanding that the FBI to release details of the investigation. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”

Both Trump and the Republicans have longed criticized the FBI and Comey for deciding not to prosecute Clinton for endangering national security by using a private email server as Secretary of State. In July, Comey announced his decision not to prosecute Clinton after a lengthy FBI investigation. Comey said on July 5, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Although Comey expressed, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he called Clinton’s handling of her emails “extremely careless.” Clinton has always dismissed the issue as merely a “mistake” of judgment.

The news could not come at a better time for Trump’s campaign. After being on the defensive for nearly a month after the release of a 2005 tape where the GOP nominee bragged about being able to grope women as he liked because of his celebrity status, and then 12 accusations from women that he made inappropriate sexual advances, Trump now can go on the offensive. The GOP nominee has longed railed about “crooked Hillary” now he might have some basis.

Clinton’s poll numbers surged with Trump’s scandals, but as WikiLeaks released her campaign chairman John Podesta emails depicting the unflattering inner workings of her campaign and news that her husband Bill Clinton explicitly blurred the lines with his Clinton Foundation, Clinton’s poll numbers have fallen. The poll numbers already showed Trump still had a possible path to the White House, now the FBI may have tipped the campaign in his favor.

The public and news media went into a frenzy on social media over the new development, as everyone believed Clinton had the election locked up and the only issue was her margin of victory. Clinton’s campaign worried of complacency; they were right. In an election so unpredictable there was bound to be a game-changing October Surprise, there was none until now. The reopened investigation might just change the whole outcome of the nastiest election in American history.

The full text of FBI Director James Comey’s letter:

In previous congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s personal email server. I am writing to supplement my previous testimony.

In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agree that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether the contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.

Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete the additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.

Politics October 19, 2016: State Department tried to convince FBI during investigation to declassify emails

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State Department tried to convince FBI during investigation to declassify emails

By Bonnie K. Goodman

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 12:  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on October 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton, who will return to Las Vegas for the final presidential debate on October 19, continues to campaign against her Republican opponent Donald Trump with less than one month to go before Election Day.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 12: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on October 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton, who will return to Las Vegas for the final presidential debate on October 19, continues to campaign against her Republican opponent Donald Trump with less than one month to go before Election Day. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The FBI released 100 more pages of the investigation into Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server and it shows the State Department may have tried to influence the FBI to declassify an email. The FBI released the new pages on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, as per a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Congressional Republicans. The new documents include 302s, notes and summaries of the interviews the FBI conducted with State Department employees, contractors, and Clinton aides. Among the most glaring discoveries is one high ranking staffer tried to influence the FBI to declassify an email in exchange for a favor, prompting outcries of a “quid-pro-quo.”

The documents show that Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy repeatedly tried to force an FBI official from the International Operations Division (IOD) to declassify an email from Clinton’s private server only because it “caused problems.” The interview notes reveal, “Not yet knowing the email’s content, [the FBI official] told Kennedy he would look into the email in question if Kennedy would provide authority concerning the FBI’s request to increase its personnel in Iraq.”

One person interviewed felt “pressured” by the FBI to comply with Kennedy’s request. The interviews present contradictory evidence as to who requested the quid-pro-quo. One interviewee claimed the State Department offered it in exchange for helping the FBI “overseas in sensitive areas.” While, another said the FBI official was willing to do so if a “personal request in Iraq” was fulfilled.

One interviewee recounted that during a State Department meeting with government agencies, he responded about classified emails that went through Clinton’s server with a “well, we’ll see.” Later the interviewee saw Kennedy with FBI official recounting, “Kennedy spent the next 15 minutes debating the classification for the email and attempting to influence the FBI official to change its markings.” The State Department’s reasons were politically motivated as to help Clinton in her run for the presidency.

Despite Kennedy repeated pleadings, after consulting with the Counterterrorism Division, the FBI official decided to keep the email classified saying “there was no way” to declassify it. Kennedy would not back down and decided to go the head of the Counterterrorism Division, Michael Steinbach where he “pleaded” that the email remains unclassified. The notes say, “Steinbach refused to do so.”

The email in question was from Nov. 18, 2016, concerning “possible arrests” in the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks. The email was one of the first released by the State Department in May 2015, although it was heavily redacted. The FBI kept the email classified, and the statement did not increase FBI personnel in Iraq.

Both the FBI and State Department are vehemently denying the allegations. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner commented on Monday, “Classification is an art, not a science, and individuals with classification authority sometimes have different views,” Toner said. “There can be applicable FOIA exemptions that are based on both classified and unclassified rules. … We have been committed to releasing as much information to the public as possible, and ensuring that documents are withheld due to classification only when necessary to prevent damage to national security — as the Executive Order on classification calls for.”

The FBI released their statement to deny the accusations. The statement read: “The FBI determined that one such email was classified at the Secret level. A senior State Department official requested the FBI re-review that email to determine whether it was in fact classified or whether it might be protected from release under a different FOIA exemption. A now-retired FBI official, who was not part of the subsequent Clinton investigation, told the State Department official that they would look into the matter. Having been previously unsuccessful in attempts to speak with the senior State official, during the same conversation, the FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad.”

Despite the denials coming from the FBI, State Department and Obama Administration, Republicans do not believe a word. Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus commented Monday in a statement. Priebus said, “It is deeply troubling that a top State Department official close to Hillary Clinton offered the FBI a ‘quid pro quo’ to hide the full extent to which she mishandled classified information. The more documents that come out, the more we learn Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with a job that is supposed to begin each day with a classified intelligence briefing.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 September 7, 2016: GOP Nominee Donald Trump’s speech on National Security to the Union League of Philadelphia Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s speech on National Security to the Union League of Philadelphia

Source: The Hill, 9-7-16

Today, I am here to talk about three crucial words that should be at the center of our foreign policy: Peace Through Strength.

We want to achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.

I am proposing a new foreign policy focused on advancing America’s core national interests, promoting regional stability, and producing an easing of tensions in the world. This will require rethinking the failed policies of the past.

We can make new friends, rebuild old alliances, and bring new allies into the fold.

I’m proud to have the support of warfighting generals, active duty military, and the top experts who know both how to win – and how to avoid the endless wars we are caught in now. Just yesterday, 88 top Generals and Admirals endorsed my campaign.

In a Trump Administration, our actions in the Middle East will be tempered by realism. The current strategy of toppling regimes, with no plan for what to do the day after, only produces power vacuums that are filled by terrorists.

Gradual reform, not sudden and radical change, should be our guiding objective in that region.

We should work with any country that shares our goal of destroying ISIS and defeating Radical Islamic terrorism, and form new friendships and partnerships based on this mission. We now have an Administration, and a former Secretary of State, who refuse to say Radical Islamic Terrorism.

Immediately after taking office, I will ask my generals to present to me a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS.

This will require military warfare, but also cyber warfare, financial warfare, and ideological warfare – as I laid out in my speech on defeating Radical Islamic terrorism several weeks ago.

Instead of an apology tour, I will proudly promote our system of government and our way of life as the best in the world – just like we did in our campaign against communism during the Cold War.

We will show the whole world how proud we are to be American.

At the same time, immigration security is a vital part of our national security.

We only want to admit people to our country who will support our values and love our people.

These are the pillars of a sound national security strategy.

Unlike my opponent, my foreign policy will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction. Hillary Clinton’s legacy in Iraq, Libya, and Syria has produced only turmoil and suffering. Her destructive policies have displaced millions of people, then she has invited the refugees into the West with no plan to screen them.

Including Veteran healthcare costs, the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $6 trillion, according to a report in the Washington Examiner. Yet, after all this money spent and lives lost, Clinton’s policies as Secretary of State have left the Middle East in more disarray than ever before.

Meanwhile, China has grown more aggressive, and North Korea more dangerous and belligerent. Russia has defied this Administration at every turn. Putin has no respect for President Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Sometimes it has seemed like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East that Hillary Clinton didn’t want to invade, intervene or topple. She is trigger-happy and unstable when it comes to war.

Hillary Clinton is just reckless – so reckless, in fact, she put her emails on an illegal server that our enemies could easily hack. Then Clinton’s team used a technology called bleachbit to acid wash her emails. They even took a hammer to some of her 13 phones, to cover her tracks and obstruct justice. These email records were destroyed after she received a subpoena to turn them over.

In the FBI report, she claimed she couldn’t recall important information on 39 occasions.

She can’t even remember whether she was trained in classified information, and said she didn’t even know the letter “C” means confidential.

If she can’t remember such crucial events and information, she is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief.

Her conduct is simply disqualifying.

She talks about her experience, but Hillary Clinton’s only foreign policy experience is “failure.” Everywhere she got involved, things got worse.

Let’s look back at the Middle East at the very beginning of 2009, before Hillary Clinton was sworn-in.

Libya was stable.

Syria was under control.

Egypt was ruled by a secular President and an ally of the United States.

Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence. The group that would become what we now call ISIS was close to being extinguished.

Iran was being choked off by economic sanctions.

Fast-forward to today. What have the decisions of Obama-Clinton produced?

Libya is in ruins, our ambassador and three other brave Americans are dead, and ISIS has gained a new base of operations.

Syria is in the midst of a disastrous civil war. ISIS controls large portions of territory. A refugee crisis now threatens Europe and the United States. And hundreds of thousands are dead.

In Egypt, terrorists have gained a foothold in the Sinai desert, near the Suez Canal, one of the most essential waterways in the world.

Iraq is in chaos, and ISIS is on the loose.

ISIS has spread across the Middle East, and into the West.

Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, is now flush with $150 billion dollars in cash released by the United States – plus another $1.7 billion dollars in cash ransom payments. In other words, our country was blackmailed and extorted into paying this unheard-of amount of money.

Worst of all, the Nuclear deal puts Iran, the number one state sponsor of Radical Islamic terrorism, on a path to nuclear weapons.

This is Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy legacy.

But that’s not all. President Obama and Hillary Clinton have also overseen deep cuts in our military, which only invite more aggression from our adversaries.

History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength.

Under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, defense spending is on track to fall to its lowest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II. We currently have the smallest Army since 1940. The Navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. And the Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1947.

When Ronald Reagan left office, our Navy had 592 ships. When Barack Obama took office, it had 285 ships. Today, the Navy has just 276 ships.

The average Air Force aircraft is 27 years-old. We have 2nd generation B-52 bombers – their fathers flew the same plane.

Our Army has been shrinking rapidly, from 553,000 soldiers in 2009 to just 479,000 today.

In 2009, our Marine Corps had 202,000 active Marines. Today, it’s just 182,000.

Our ship count is below the minimum of 308 that the Navy says is needed to execute its current missions. President Obama plans to reduce the Army to 450,000 troops—which would hamstring our ability to defend the United States.

It takes 22 years on average to field a major new weapons system.

In 2010, the US spent $554 billion on non-war base defense spending.

In the current year, we are spending $548 billion – a cut of 10% in real inflation-adjusted dollars. This reduction was done through what is known as the sequester, or automatic defense budget cuts. Under the budget agreement, defense took half of the cuts – even though it makes up only one-sixth of the budget.

As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military.

This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding, and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.

As part of removing the defense sequester, I will ask Congress to fully offset the costs of increased military spending. In the process, we will make government leaner and more responsive to the public.

I will ask that savings be accomplished through common sense reforms that eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks – and that protect hard-earned benefits for Americans.

Government-wide, improper government payments are estimated to exceed $135 billion per year, and the amount of unpaid taxes is estimated to be as high as $385 billion.

We can also reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy through responsible workforce attrition – that is, when employees retire, they can be replaced by a smaller number of new employees.

We can also stop funding programs that are not authorized in law. Congress spent $320 billion last year on 256 expired laws. Removing just 5 percent of that will reduce spending by almost $200 billion over 10 years.

The military will not be exempt either – the military bureaucracy will have to be trimmed as well.

Early in my term, I will also be requesting that all NATO nations promptly pay their bills, which many are not doing right now. Only 5 NATO countries, including the United States, are currently meeting the minimum requirement to spend 2% of GDP on defense.

Additionally, I will be respectfully asking countries such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for the tremendous security we provide them.

Finally, we will have at our disposal additional revenues from unleashing American energy. The Institute for Energy Research cites a “short-run” figure of as much as $36 billion annually from increased energy production.

Using these new funds, I will ask my Secretary of Defense to propose a new defense budget to meet the following long-term goals:

We will build an active Army of around 540,000, as the Army’s chief of staff has said he needs. We now have only 31 Brigade Combat Teams, or 490,000 troops, and only one-third of combat teams are considered combat-ready.

We will build a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions, which the Heritage Foundation notes is the minimum needed to deal with major contingencies – we have 23 now.

We will build a Navy of 350 surface ships and submarines, as recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel – we have 276 ships now.

And we will build an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft, which the Heritage Foundation has shown to be needed to execute current missions – we have 1,113 now.

We will also seek to develop a state of the art missile defense system.

Under Obama-Clinton, our ballistic missile defense capability has been degraded at the very moment the US and its allies are facing a heightened missile threat from states like Iran and North Korea. As these potential adversaries grow their missile programs, US military facilities in Asia and the Middle East, as well as our allies, are increasingly in range, with the United States homeland also potentially threatened.

We propose to rebuild the key tools of missile defense, starting with the Navy cruisers that are the foundation of our missile defense capabilities in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The Obama-Clinton administration tried repeatedly to remove our cruisers from service, then refused to modernize these aging ships.

We will start by modernizing our cruisers to provide the Ballistic Missile Defense capability our nation needs; this will cost around $220 million per modernization as we seek to modernize a significant portion of these 22 ships.

As we expand our Navy toward the goal of 350 ships, we will also procure additional modern destroyers that are designed to handle the missile defense mission in the coming years.

Accomplishing this military rebuild will be a fifty-state effort —every state in the union will be able to take part in rebuilding our military and developing the technologies oftomorrow.

In addition, we will improve the Department of Defense’s cyber capabilities. Hillary Clinton has taught us all how vulnerable we are to cyber hacking.

Which is why one of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules, and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.

Hillary Clinton put her emails on a secret server to cover-up her pay-for-play scandals at the State Department. Nothing threatens the integrity of our Democracy more than when government officials put their public office up for sale.

We will also make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans.

One of my first directives after taking office will be asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all relevant federal departments, to conduct a thorough review of United States cyber defenses and identify all vulnerabilities – in our power grid, our communications systems, and all vital infrastructure. I will then ask for a plan to immediately protect those vulnerabilities. At the same time, we will invest heavily in offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt our enemies, including terrorists who rely heavily on internet communications.

These new investments in cybersecurity, and the modernization of our military, will spur substantial new job creation in the private sector and help create the jobs and technologies of tomorrow.

America must be the world’s dominant technological powerhouse of the 21st century, and young Americans – including in our inner cities – should get these new jobs.

We must also ensure that we have the best medical care, education and support for our military service members and their families – both when they serve, and when they return to civilian life.

Our debt to our men and women in uniform is eternal.

To all those who have served this nation, I say: I will never let you down.

We will protect those who protect us.

And we will follow their example of unity. We will work across all racial and income lines to create One American Nation.

Together, we will have one great American future.

We will be one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.

America will be a prosperous, generous and inclusive society.

We will discard the failed policies and division of the past, and embrace true American change to rebuild our economy, rebuild our inner cities, and rebuild our country.

We Will Bring Back Our Jobs.

We Will Make America Strong Again.

We Will Make America Safe Again.

And We Will Make America Great Again.

Full Text Political Transcripts September 2, 2016: FBI report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

FBI report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server

Source: FBI, 9-2-16

 

Politics August 22, 2016: Court orders State Dept to release 15,000 FBI newly discovered Clinton emails

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Court orders State Dept to release 15,000 FBI newly discovered Clinton emails

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The FBI handed over nearly 15,000 additional emails from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. On Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, the State Department confirmed it received 14,900 newly discovered emails from the FBI after a court hearing ordered the State Department to release the emails by Sept. 23.

The FBI uncovered the emails which are either two and from Clinton during their investigation as to whether the former Secretary of State risked national security by sending or receiving classified emails on her private email server. The emails are in addition to the about 30,000 Clinton handed over back in December 2014 and have since been released publicly.

In July, FBI Director James Comey explained that the emails were uncovered during their investigation into Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State. Comey indicated, “We found those additional emails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years, and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton … Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of email fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.”

State Department spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement about the newly discovered emails and eventual release. Toner pointed out, “As we have previously explained, the State Department voluntarily agreed to produce to Judicial Watch any emails sent or received by Secretary Clinton in her official capacity during her tenure as secretary of state which are contained within the material turned over by the FBI and which were not already processed for FOIA by the State Department. We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of nonrecord (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State.”

Last week, the State Department announced they would release the emails the FBI discovered but did not indicate how many emails were found. There was a status hearing on the emails release on Monday, there U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is presiding over the case. The State Department has to release the emails as part of Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department.

Judge Boasberg vetoed the release schedule for the emails that the State Department presented. The Department wanted to protect Clinton and her lead in the presidential race and release them the second week in October. Instead, Judge Boasberg ordered one batch to be released on Sept. 23 and to return to court for another status hearing the same day.

Politics July 11, 2016: Majority of Americans disapprove of the FBI deciding to charge Clinton over email server

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Majority of Americans disapprove of the FBI deciding to charge Clinton over email server

By Bonnie K. Goodman

American voters agree with Republicans that the FBI should have charged former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for using her private server and mishandling classified information during her tenure. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll published on Monday, July 11, 2016, shows that a majority of Americans disagree with the FBI’s decision. Voters are also worried about how Clinton will deal with the “responsibilities” of the presidency.

According to the poll, 56 percent of Americans disagree with “FBI Director James Comey’s recommendation not to charge Clinton,” while only 35 percent agree with his decision. American even worried about how Clinton would act as president, although 39 percent are not worried about how she would perform as president.

There are partisan divisions over the FBI’s decision, with 90 percent of Republicans objecting to Comey’s decision. Democrats are not too pleased with Clinton’s actions either with 30  percent believing she should have faced charges, while 60 percent agree with the FBI and Attorney General Loretta Lynch closing the case on their presidential nominee.

Although Clinton will not face any criminal charges, 28 percent of Americans are less likely to vote for Clinton in November after the yearlong investigation into her handling of classified information. Last week when Comey announced he would not charge Clinton, he still expressed that she and her aides’ treatment of classified information were “extremely reckless.”

Politics July 7, 2016: Comey testifies at House hearing defending decision not prosecute Clinton

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman 
FBI Director James Comey appeared in front of a Congressional hearing and defended the agency’s decision not to prosecute former Secretary Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. Comey testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in a hearing conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee where he was the only witness and lasted four hours.

The hearing focused on whether Clinton lied to the FBI about her handling of classified information during her tenure while using a private email server for official State Department business. Jason Chaffetz, the GOP chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was looking to establish that Clinton perjured herself in her previous testimony on her email server for the House Benghazi Committee last year.

Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that Clinton was treated differently because she is the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. Chaffetz indicated, “We are mystified and confused by the fact pattern that you laid out and the conclusions that you reached.” Continuing Chaffetz said, “It seems to a lot of us that the Average Joe, the average American, that if they had done what you laid out in your statement, that they would be in handcuffs, and they might be on their way to jail. I think there is a legitimate concern that there is a double standard. If your name isn’t Clinton and you are not part of the powerful elite, that Lady Justice will act differently.”

Comey was insistent the FBI’s decision would have been the same for anyone in a similar position. The FBI director adamantly said, “The decision was made, and the recommendation was made the way you would want it to be by people who didn’t give a hoot about politics but who cared about what are the facts, what is the law and how have similar people, all people, been treated in the past.”

The FBI director also clarified the decision not to prosecute was not politically motivated or any coordination with the Obama administration. Comey expressed, “I believe this investigation was conducted consistent with the highest traditions of the FBI. Our folks did it in an apolitical and professional way including our recommendation as to the appropriate resolution of this case.” Comey also told Rep. John Mica (R-Calif.), “I say that under oath, I stand by that. There was no coordination. There was an insinuation in what you were saying that.”

The FBI director, however, admitted Clinton did send three emails with classified information from her private server contradicting her previous testimony to the Benghazi committee and her public statements. Comey, when pressed in the hearing, said, “That is not true. There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents.” When he was asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), if Clinton previous statement were accurate, that she did not send “any classified material to anyone on my email” and “there is no classified material,” Comey admitted, “There was classified material.”

Democrats and the Clinton campaign dismissed the GOP latest attack on their nominee. Ranking committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “Amazingly, some Republicans who were praising you just days ago for your independence and integrity and honesty instantly turned against you because your recommendation conflicted with the predetermined outcome they wanted.” While Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “House GOP clearly treating FBI Director Comey as a hostile witness #Overreach.”

Politics July 7, 2016: Attorney General Lynch confirms no criminal charges for Clinton over server

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Attorney General Lynch confirms no criminal charges for Clinton over server

By Bonnie K. Goodman

It is now official; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not face any criminal charges for using a private email server during her tenure. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, July 7, 2016, that the Justice Department will not be charging Clinton and are now closing their investigation as to if she risked national security with the server. Clinton no longer has to be concerned about criminal ramifications, only political ones.

According to the statement, Lynch said, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”

Lynch’s statement comes only a day after FBI Director James B. Comey announced a press conference that the FBI would not be prosecuting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although he called  her actions “extremely careless.” Lynch just expressed this past weekend that she would follow the FBI’s recommendation. The Republicans have been outraged at the FBI’s decision and the GOP House of Representatives have commenced hearings.

Clinton’s campaign was pleased with Lynch’s announcement. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted a response, “With the AG accepting Director Comey’s recommendation, this case is resolved, no matter Republicans’ attempts to continue playing politics.” Lynch has been under fire since meeting with former President Bill Clinton at a Phoenix airport while Clinton was still under investigation, although she claimed their conversation was strictly personal.

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 5, 2016: FBI Director James B. Comey’s statement not recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton over private email server

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System

Source: FBI.gov, 7-5-16

Remarks prepared for delivery at press briefing.

Good morning. I’m here to give you an update on the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail system during her time as Secretary of State.

After a tremendous amount of work over the last year, the FBI is completing its investigation and referring the case to the Department of Justice for a prosecutive decision. What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice.

This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.

I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case. Once you have a better sense of how much we have done, you will understand why I am so grateful and proud of their efforts.

So, first, what we have done:

The investigation began as a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General in connection with Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. The referral focused on whether classified information was transmitted on that personal system.

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.

I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together—to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work—has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.

For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused—or “slack”—space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.

FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.

This helped us recover work-related e-mails that were not among the 30,000 produced to State. Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.

With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”

I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.

It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as “personal” by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014.

The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.

It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.

We have conducted interviews and done technical examination to attempt to understand how that sorting was done by her attorneys. Although we do not have complete visibility because we are not able to fully reconstruct the electronic record of that sorting, we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.

And, of course, in addition to our technical work, we interviewed many people, from those involved in setting up and maintaining the various iterations of Secretary Clinton’s personal server, to staff members with whom she corresponded on e-mail, to those involved in the e-mail production to State, and finally, Secretary Clinton herself.

Last, we have done extensive work to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.

That’s what we have done. Now let me tell you what we found:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

So that’s what we found. Finally, with respect to our recommendation to the Department of Justice:

In our system, the prosecutors make the decisions about whether charges are appropriate based on evidence the FBI has helped collect. Although we don’t normally make public our recommendations to the prosecutors, we frequently make recommendations and engage in productive conversations with prosecutors about what resolution may be appropriate, given the evidence. In this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.

I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation, as there was throughout this investigation. What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.

I know there were many opinions expressed by people who were not part of the investigation—including people in government—but none of that mattered to us. Opinions are irrelevant, and they were all uninformed by insight into our investigation, because we did the investigation the right way. Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this organization.

 

 

Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 June 13, 2016: Donald Trump’s Speech on the Orlando Shooting and National Security Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:

Donald Trump’s Speech on the Orlando Shooting and National Security

Source: Time, 6-13-16

TRUMP: (OFF-MIKE) This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and all of the bad things and we all know what’s going on, and especially how poor she’d do as president in these very, very troubled times of radical Islamic terrorism.

TRUMP: Even her former Secret Service agent, who’s seen her under pressure and in times of stress, has stated that she lacks the temperament and integrity to be our president. There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these important issues at a later time, and I will deliver that speech very, very soon.

But today, there’s only one thing to discuss, the growing threat of terrorism inside of our borders. The attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the worst terror strike on our soil since September 11th, and the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

So many people — it’s just hard to believe, but just so many people dead, so many people gravely injured, so much carnage, such a disgrace. The horror is beyond description. The families of these wonderful people are totally devastated, and they will be forever. Likewise, our whole nation and indeed the whole world is devastated.

We express our deepest sympathies to the victims, the wounded, and their families. We mourn as one people for our nation’s loss, and pledge our support to any and all who need it. I would like to ask now that we all observe a moment of silence for the victims of this attack.

Thank you. Our nation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT community. They have been through something that nobody could ever experience. This is a very dark moment in America’s history. A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub, not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens, because of their sexual orientation.

It’s a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation. It’s an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want, and express their identity. It’s an attack on the right of every single American to live in peace and safety in their own country.

We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people, with force, purpose, and determination. But the current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly. We’re not acting clearly, we’re not talking clearly, we’ve got problems.

If we don’t get tough, and if we don’t get smart, and fast, we’re not going to have our country anymore. There will be nothing, absolutely nothing, left. The killer, whose name I will not use, or ever say, was born in Afghan, of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States.

His father published support for the Afghan Taliban, a regime which murders those who don’t share its radical views, and they murdered plenty. The father even said he was running for president of Afghanistan. The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place, was because we allowed his family to come here.

That is a fact, and it’s a fact we need to talk about. We have a dysfunctional immigration system, which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly. We have an incompetent administration.

And if I’m elected president, that will not change, I will tell you, that will not change over the next four years. We have an administration that will not change. But if I get in there, it’s going to change, and it’s going to change quickly. We’re going from totally incompetent to just the opposite, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

With 50 people dead and perhaps more ultimately and dozens more wounded, we cannot afford to talk around issues anymore. We have to address these issues head-on. I called for a ban after San Bernardino and was met with great scorn and anger but now many years and I have to say many years but many are saying that I was right to do so. And although the pause is temporary we must find out what is going on. We have to do it.

It will be lifted — this ban — when and as a nation we’re in a position to properly and perfectly screen these people coming into our country. They’re pouring in and we don’t know what we’re doing. The immigration laws of the United States give the president powers to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons. Now, any class — it really is determined and to be determined by the president for the interests of the United States. And it’s as he or she deems appropriate. Hopefully it’s he in this case.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. I will use this power to protect the American people. When I’m elected I will suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats. After a full …

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

And by the way we have no choice. After a full and partial and long — really long overdue security assessment we will develop a responsible immigration policy that serves the interests and values of America.

(APPLAUSE)

We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer. Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions.

(APPLAUSE) Remember this, radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti- American.

(APPLAUSE)

I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.

(APPLAUSE)

This is not just a national security issue. It’s a quality of life issue. If we want to protect the quality of life for all Americans — women and children, gay and straight, Jews and Christians and all people then we need to tell the truth about radical Islam and we need to do it now.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to tell the truth also about how radical Islam is coming to our shores. And it’s coming …

(APPLAUSE)

With these people, folks, it’s coming. We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president. Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we’re letting into America. All of the September 11th hijackists were issued visas. Large numbers of Somali refugees in Minnesota have tried to join ISIS.

The Boston bombers came here through political asylum. The male shooter in San Bernardino again whose name I will not mention was the child of immigrants from Pakistan and he brought his wife, the other terrorist from Saudi Arabia through another one of our easily exploited visa programs.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Immigration from Afghanistan into the United States has increased nearly five fold — five fold in just one year. According to Pew Research, 99 percent of the people in Afghanistan support oppressive sharia law. We admit many more, and that’s just the way it is. We admit many more from other countries in the region.

And I’ll tell you what: They share these oppressive views and values. We want to remain a free and open society. Then, and if we do, then we have to control our borders. We have to control, and we have to control them now, not later. Right now.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

Yet Hillary Clinton, for months, and despite so many attacks, repeatedly refused to even say the words radical Islam until I challenged her yesterday. And, guess what, she will probably say them. She sort of has said them, but let’s see what happens. She really has no choice, but she doesn’t want to.

However, she’s really been forced, and she has been forced to say these words. She supports, and the reason is, she supports so much of what is wrong, and what is wrong with this country, and what’s going wrong with our country and our borders. She has no clue, in my opinion, what radical Islam is and she won’t speak honestly about it if she does, in fact, know. She’s in total denial, and her continuing reluctance to ever name the enemy broadcasts weakness across the entire world — true weakness.

I don’t know if you know this, but just a few weeks before San Bernardino, the slaughter, that’s all it was was a slaughter, Hillary Clinton explained her refusal to say the words “radical Islam.” Here is what she said, exact quote, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.” That is Hillary Clinton.

So, she says the solution is to ban guns. They tried that in France which has among the toughest gun laws anywhere in the world, and 130 people were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists in cold blood. Her plan is to disarm law abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. No good. Not going to happen, folks. Not going to happen. Not going to happen. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

She wants to take away American’s guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us. Let them come into the country, we don’t have guns. Let them come in, let them have all the fun they want.

I will be meeting with the NRA, which has given me their earliest endorsement in a presidential race, to discuss how to ensure Americans have the means to protect themselves in this age of terror. I will be always defending the Second Amendment.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

The bottom line is that Hillary supports policies that bring the threat of radical Islam into American and allow it to grow oversees, and it is growing. In fact, Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic immigration plan will bring vastly more radical Islamic immigration into this country, threatening not only our society but our entire way of life. When it comes to radical Islamic terrorism, ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly — totally deadly.

The Obama administration, with the support of Hillary Clinton and others, has also damaged our security by restraining our intelligence gathering and we have, just, no intelligence gathering information. We need this information so badly, and he stopped it. We don’t have the support. We don’t have the support of the law enforcement system because Obama is not letting them do their job. They are not being allowed to do their job. And, they can do it well — better than anybody.

We need a new leader. We need a new leader fast.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else. I refuse to be politically correct.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to do the right thing. I want to straighten things out and I want to make America great again.

(APPLAUSE)

The days of deadly ignorance will end, and they will end soon if I’m elected. As president I will give our intelligence community, law enforcement and military the tools they need to prevent terrorist attacks. They don’t have those tools now.

(APPLAUSE)

We need an intelligence gathering system second to none. Second to none. That includes better cooperation between state, local and federal officials, and with our allies, very importantly. I will have an Attorney General, a Director of National Intelligence and a Secretary of Defense who’ll know how to fight a war on radical Islamic terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

And they will have the support that they need to get the job done right, not like it is right now. It’s not right.

(APPLAUSE)

We also must ensure the American people are provided the information they need to understand the threat. The Senate subcommittee on Immigration has already identified hundreds of immigrants charged with terrorist activities inside the United States since September 11th. Nearly a year ago, the Senate Subcommittee asked President Obama’s Department of Justice, State and Homeland Security to provide the immigration history of all terrorists inside the United States. These Departments refused to comply. Nobody even knows why. They refused to comply.

President Obama must release the full and complete immigration histories of all individuals implicated in terrorist activities of any kind since September 11th. So important. The public has a right to know how these people got here, how they came on to this great land, why are they here?

(APPLAUSE)

We have to screen applicants to know whether they are affiliated with or supporting radical groups and beliefs, very simple. We have to control the amount of future immigration into this country and we have to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America. Not complicated.

(APPLAUSE)

Every – and just think of this. Take a look. Every single event, even a single individual can be devastating, and all you have to do is take a look at what happened in Orlando and what happened in other cases. Just a single event. And just one person. Can you imagine what they’ll do in large groups, which we’re allowing now to come here.

Truly our President doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s failed us and he’s failed us badly. Under his leadership this situation will not get any better, it will only get worse. And I’ve been saying that for a long time. Each year the United States permanently admits 100,000 immigrants from the Middle East and many more from Muslim countries outside of the Middle East. Our government has been admitting ever- growing numbers, year after year, without any effective plan for our own security.

In fact, Clinton’s State Department was in charge of admissions and the admissions process for people applying to enter from overseas. Having learned nothing from these attacks, she now plans to massively increase admissions without a screening plan including a 500 percent increase in Syrian refugees coming into our country. Tell me, tell me – how stupid is that?

This could be a better, bigger, more horrible version than the legendary Trojan Horse ever was. Altogether, under the Clinton plan, you’d be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them, or to prevent the radicalization of the children and their children. Not only their children, by the way, they’re trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful ISIS is and how wonderful Islam is and we don’t know what’s happening.

TRUMP: The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to really to screen. We’re not screening people.

So why don’t we have an effective screening system? We don’t. We’re being laughed at all over the world. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans. The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us how she will pay for it, her plan will cost hundreds of billions of dollars long term.

Wouldn’t this be money better spent rebuilding America for our current population including the many poor people already living here. We have cities, we have inner cities…

(APPLAUSE)

We have poverty all over and this is how we’re spending billions of dollars. We have to stop the tremendous flow of Syrian refugees into the United States. We don’t know who they are, they have no documentation and we don’t know what they’re planning and we won’t unless we have proper supervisor and proper leadership in which case they’re out of here. What I want…

(APPLAUSE)

What I want is common sense. I want a mainstream immigration policy that promotes American values. That’s a choice I put before the American people. A mainstream immigration policy designed to benefit America or Hillary Clinton’s radical immigration policy designed to benefit politically correct special interests. That’s all it is. We’ve got to get smart and tough and vigilant and we’ve got to do it now because later is too late — going to be too late for our country.

The media talks about home grown terrorism but Islamic radicalism and that’s a very, very important term — a term that the president refuses to use and the networks that nurture it are imports from overseas whether you like it or whether you don’t like it. Yes, there are many radicalized people already inside our country as a result of poor policies of the past.

But the whole point is that we will be much, much and it will be easier to deal with our current problem if we don’t keep on bringing people who add to the problem. And that’s what they’re doing. We’re letting all of these people — hundreds of thousands of people come in and all they’re doing is adding to this incredible problem we have.

For instance, the controversial mosque attended by the Boston bombers had at its founder and as its founder an immigrant from overseas charged in an assassination plot. This shooter and amazingly in Orlando was the child of an immigrant father who supported one of the most repressive regimes on earth. Why would we admit people who support violent hatred?

Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country and who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views or values.

(APPLAUSE)

She can’t have it both ways. She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress these same communities. How does this kind of immigration make our lives better? How does this kind of immigration make our country better? Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people in in vast numbers who reject our values? Why? Explain.

Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?

TRUMP: I will tell you who the better friend is and some day I believe that will be proven out bigly (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

And by the way the LGBT community is just — what’s happened to them is just so sad and to be thinking about where their policies are currently with this administration is a disgrace to that community, I will tell you right now.

Clinton wants to allow radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country. They enslave women, and they murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.

(APPLAUSE)

Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities. All of our communities, every single one of them. Americans already admitted four times more immigrants than any country on Earth, anybody in the world. Four times more. At least, because we don’t even know who’s coming in. And we continue to admit millions more with no real checks or scrutiny.

Not surprisingly, wages for our workers haven’t budged. In almost 20 years. You wonder why we get the crowds, you wonder why we get this tremendous support, you wonder why I’ve gotten more votes than any Republican in any primary in the history of the Republican Party? Take a look at that. Take a look at your security, take a look at the wages. For 18 years they’ve been stagnant, they’ve even gone down.

So whether it’s a matter of national security, or financial security, we can’t afford to keep on going like this. Cannot afford it. We owe $19 trillion in debt. And no longer have any options. Our communities from all backgrounds are ready for some relief. This is not an act of offense against anyone. It’s really an act of defense. I want us all, all of us, to work together. We have to form a partnership, with our Muslim communities. We have Muslim communities in this country that are great, and we have to form that partnership.

Now, the Muslim community, so important. They have to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. They know it. And they have to do it, and they have to do it forthwith. I want to fix our schools. I want to fix our bridges. And our jobs market, we’re going to have it rocket again, we’re going to make great trade deals. But I want every American to succeed including Muslims.

But the Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.

Hillary Clinton wants to empty out the Treasury to bring people into the country that include individuals who preach hate against our citizens. I want to protect our citizens, all of our citizens. The terrorist attack on Pulse nightclub demands a full and complete investigation into every single aspect of the assault. In San Bernardino, as an example, people who knew what was going on, they knew exactly, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it. They said oh, “We thought so but we didn’t want to use racial profiling.” Which was probably an excuse given to them by their lawyer, so they don’t get in trouble.

We need to know what the killer discussed with his relatives, parents, friends and associates. We need to know if he was affiliated with any radical mosques or radical activists and what, if any, is their immigration status. We have to know, and we have to know fast. We need to know if he traveled anywhere and who he traveled with. We need to know, and we need to make sure, every single last person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something but didn’t tell us, is brought to justice, so when people know what’s going on and they don’t tell us, and we have an attack, and people die, these people have to have consequences. Big consequences.

(APPLAUSE)

America must do more — much more — to protect its citizens, especially people who are potential victims of crimes based on their backgrounds or sexual orientation, as you just saw in Orlando.

TRUMP: It also means we must change our foreign policy. The decision to overthrow the regime in Libya, then pushing for the overthrow of the regime in Syria, among other things, without plans for the day after, have created space for ISIS to expand and grow like nobody has ever seen before.

These actions, along with our disastrous Iran deal, have also reduced our ability to work in partnership with our Muslim allies in the region. That is why our new goal must be to defeat Islamic terrorism not nation building. No more nation building. It’s never going to work.

And by the way we’ve spent almost $5 trillion over the years on trying to nation build in the Middle East and it has been complete and total disaster. We’re further away now than we were 15 years ago. For instance, the last major NATO mission was Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. That mission helped to unleash ISIS on a new continent.

I’ve said NATO need to change its focus and stop terrorism. We have to focus on terrorism and we have to stop terrorism. Since I’ve raised that criticism and it’s OK. I’ve gotten no credit for it but these are minor details — NATO has since announced a new initiative — front page of the Wall Street Journal four days ago focused on just that. America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

Pretty much like we did with communism during the Cold War. We tried it President Obama’s way, doesn’t work. He gave the world his apology tour. We got ISIS and many other problems in return. That’s what we got. Remember the famous apology tour. We’re sorry for everything.

I’d like to conclude my remarks today by again expressing our solitarily with the people of Orlando who have come under this horrific attack. When I’m president I pledge to protect and defend all Americans who live inside our borders. Wherever they come from, wherever they were born, I don’t care. All Americans living here and following our laws not other laws will be protected.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you. We’re going to be tough and we’re going to be smart and we’re going to do it right. America will be a tolerant and open society. America will also be a safe society. We will protect our borders at home. We will defeat ISIS overseas. We have no choice. We will ensure every parent can raise their children in peace and safety. We will make America rich again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Full Text Obama Presidency June 2, 2015: President Barack Obama’s on the Passage of the USA FREEDOM Act

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Statement by the President on the USA FREEDOM Act

Source: WH, 6-2-15

For the past eighteen months, I have called for reforms that better safeguard the privacy and civil liberties of the American people while ensuring our national security officials retain tools important to keeping Americans safe.  That is why, today, I welcome the Senate’s passage of the USA FREEDOM Act, which I will sign when it reaches my desk.

After a needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my Administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country. Just as important, enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programs, including by prohibiting bulk collection through the use of Section 215, FISA pen registers, and National Security Letters and by providing the American people with additional transparency measures.

I am gratified that Congress has finally moved forward with this sensible reform legislation. I particularly applaud Senators Leahy and Lee as well as Representatives Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers, and Nadler for their leadership and tireless efforts to pass this important bipartisan legislative achievement.

Political Musings December 15, 2014: Bush visits 9/11 memorial museum after Senate CIA torture report release

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Bush visits 9/11 memorial museum after Senate CIA torture report release

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Less than a week after the Senate CIA torture report was released Former President George W. Bush visited the September 11th Memorial and Museum on Sunday evening, Dec. 14, 2014. President Bush’s visit was without much fanfare, without…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at FBI Director James Comey’s Installation Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and FBI Director James Comey

Source: WH, 10-28-13

President Barack Obama and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, center, applaud FBI Director James Comey, left, during his installation ceremony at the J. Edgar Hoover BuildingPresident Barack Obama and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, center, applaud FBI Director James Comey, left, during his installation ceremony at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

12:34 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, FBI.  (Applause.) Thank you so much.  Please, everybody, be seated — those of you who have seats.  (Laughter.)
Well, good afternoon, everybody.  I am so proud to be here and to stand once again with so many dedicated men and women of the FBI.  You are the best of the best.  Day in and day out, you work tirelessly to confront the most dangerous threats our nation faces.  You serve with courage; you serve with integrity.  You protect Americans at home and abroad.  You lock up criminals.  You secure the homeland against the threat of terrorism.  Without a lot of fanfare, without seeking the spotlight, you do your jobs, all the while upholding our most cherished values and the rule of law.
Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity:  That’s your motto.  And today, we’re here to welcome a remarkable new leader for this remarkable institution, one who lives those principles out every single day:  Mr. Jim Comey.
Before I get to Jim, I want to thank all the predecessors who are here today.  We are grateful for your service.  I have to give a special shout-out to Bob Mueller, who served longer than he was supposed to, but he was such an extraordinary leader through some of the most difficult times that we’ve had in national security.  And I consider him a friend and I’m so grateful for him and Ann being here today.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
Now, Jim has dedicated his life to defending our laws — to making sure that all Americans can trust our justice system to protect their rights and their well-being.  He’s the grandson of a beat cop.  He’s the prosecutor who helped bring down the Gambinos.  He’s the relentless attorney who fought to stem the bloody tide of gun violence, rub out white-collar crime, deliver justice to terrorists.  It’s just about impossible to find a matter of justice he has not tackled, and it’s hard to imagine somebody who is not more uniquely qualified to lead a bureau that covers all of it — traditional threats like violent and organized crime to the constantly changing threats like terrorism and cyber-security.  So he’s got the resume.
But, of course, Jim is also a famously cool character — the calmest in the room during a crisis.  Here’s what a fellow former prosecutor said about him.  He said, “You know that Rudyard Kipling line — ‘If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs’– that’s Jim.”
There’s also a story from the time during his prosecution of the Gambino crime family.  One of the defendants was an alleged hit man named Lorenzo.  And during the trial, Jim won an award from the New York City Bar Association.  When the court convened the next morning, everybody was buzzing about it, and suddenly, a note was passed down from the defendant’s table, across the aisle to the prosecutor’s table.  It was handed to Jim, and it read:  “Dear Jim, congratulations on your award.  No one deserves it more than you.  You’re a true professional.  Sincerely, Lorenzo.”  (Laughter.)
“Sincerely, Lorenzo.”  Now, we don’t know how sincere he was.  (Laughter.)  We don’t know whether this was a veiled threat, or a plea for leniency, or an honest compliment.  But I think it is fair to say that Jim has won the respect of folks across the spectrum — including Lorenzo.  (Laughter.)
He’s the perfect leader for an organization whose walls are graced by the words of a legendary former director:  “The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation.”  Jim has worked with many of the more than 35,000 men and women of the FBI over the course of his long and distinguished career.  And it’s his admiration and respect for all of you, individually, his recognition of the hard work that you do every day — sometimes under extraordinarily difficult circumstances — not just the folks out in the field, but also folks working the back rooms, doing the hard work, out of sight — his recognition that your mission is important is what compelled him to answer the call to serve his country again.
The FBI joins forces with our intelligence, our military, and homeland security professionals to break up all manner of threats — from taking down drug rings to stopping those who prey on children, to breaking up al Qaeda cells to disrupting their activities, thwarting their plots.  And your mission keeps expanding because the nature of the threats are always changing.
Unfortunately, the resources allotted to that mission has been reduced by sequestration.  I’ll keep fighting for those resources because our country asks and expects a lot from you, and we should make sure you’ve got the resources you need to do the job.  Especially when many of your colleagues put their lives on the line on a daily basis, all to serve and protect our fellow citizens — the least we can do is make sure you’ve got the resources for it and that your operations are not disrupted because of politics in this town.  (Applause.)
Now the good news is things like courage, leadership, judgment, and compassion — those resources are, potentially, at least, inexhaustible.  That’s why it’s critical that we seek out the best people to serve — folks who have earned the public trust; who have excellent judgment, even in the most difficult circumstances; those who possess not just a keen knowledge of the law, but also a moral compass that they — and we — can always count on.
And that’s who we’ve got in Jim Comey.  I’ll tell you I interviewed a number of extraordinary candidates for this job, all with sterling credentials.  But what gave me confidence that this was the right man for the job wasn’t his degrees and it wasn’t his resume; it was in talking to him and seeing his amazing family, a sense that this somebody who knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and is willing to act on that basis every single day.  And that’s why I’m so grateful that he’s signed up to serve again.
I will spare you yet another joke about how today, no one stands taller.  (Laughter.)  I simply want to thank Jim for accepting this role.  I want to thank Patrice and the five remarkable children that they’ve got — because jobs like this are a team effort, as you well know.
And I want to thank most all the men and women of the FBI.  I’m proud of your work.  I’m grateful for your service.  I’m absolutely confident that this agency will continue to flourish with Jim at the helm.  And if he gets lost in the building, I want you guys to help him out.  (Laughter.)  Because I guarantee you that he’s going to have your back, make sure you’ve got his back as well.
Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)
MR. JOYCE:  And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce the seventh Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation — James B. Comey.  (Applause.)
MR. COMEY:  Thank you, Sean.  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence, for honoring us, and for speaking so eloquently about the mission of the FBI and its great people.
Thank you also to my friends and family who are gathered here today.  My entire life is literally represented in this crowd, and it is a pretty picture.  These are the people that I have known and loved literally my entire life and from whom I have learned so much.
I’m especially grateful that my dad and my sister and my brothers could be here today.  I wish so much that Mom could be here to enjoy this amazing day.  I can still hear ringing in my entire teenage years her voice as she snapped open the shades every single morning and said, “Rise and shine and show the world what you’re made of.”  I found it less inspiring at the time — (laughter) — but it made us who we are.  And I’ll never forget that.
And to my five troops and my amazing bride, who talked me into being interviewed for this job — of course, with the caveat that she’d be okay because the President would never pick me.  (Laughter.)  I got to tell you, this is your last chance to talk to him about it.  (Laughter.)
Mr. President, I am so grateful for this honor and this opportunity to serve with the men and women of the FBI.  They are standing all around this great courtyard, and standing on duty all around this country and around this world at this moment.  I know already that this is the best job I have ever had and will ever have.
That’s because I have a front row seat to watch the work of a remarkable group of people who serve this country, folks from all walks of life who joined the FBI for the same reason — they were teachers and soldiers, and police officers and scholars, and software engineers, and people from all walks of life who wanted to do good for a living.  They wanted jobs with moral content, and so they joined this great organization.
I thought about them as I stood in this courtyard just a week ago and showed a visiting foreign leader the statue that overlooks this ceremony.  It’s an artist’s depiction of the words from our shield that the President mentioned:  Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. And as I thought about that statue and those words and this ceremony, I thought I would take just a couple of minutes and tell you what those words mean and why I think they belong on our shield.
First, fidelity.  The dictionary defines fidelity as a strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty.  To my mind, that word on our shield reminds us that the FBI must abide two obligations at the same time.  First, the FBI must be independent of all political forces or interests in this country.  In a real sense, it must stand apart from other institutions in American life.  But, second, at the same time, it must be part of the United States Department of Justice, and constrained by the rule of law and the checks and balances built into our brilliant design by our nation’s founders.
There is a tension reflected in those two aspects of fidelity, those two values that I see in that word, and I think that tension is reflected in the 10-year term that I’ve just begun.  The term is 10 years to ensure independence.  But it is a fixed term of years to ensure that power does not become concentrated in one person and unconstrained.  The need for reflection and restraint of power is what led Louis Freeh to order that all new agent classes visit the Holocaust Museum here in Washington so they could see and feel and hear in a palpable way the consequences of abuse of power on a massive almost unimaginable scale.  Bob Mueller continued that practice.  And I will again, when we have agents graduating from Quantico.
The balance reflected in my term is also a product of lessons hard learned from the history of this great institution.  Our first half-century or so was a time of great progress and achievement for this country, and for the Bureau.  But it also saw abuse and overreach — most famously with respect to Martin Luther King and others, who were viewed as internal security threats.
As I think about the unique balance represented by fidelity to independence on the one hand, and the rule of law on the other, I think it also makes sense for me to offer those in training a reminder closer to our own history.  I’m going to direct that all new agents and analysts also visit the Martin Luther King Memorial here in Washington.  I think it will serve as a different kind of lesson — (applause) — one more personal to the Bureau, of the dangers in becoming untethered to oversight and accountability.
 That word fidelity belongs on our shield.
 Next, bravery.  We have perpetrated a myth in our society that being brave means not being afraid, but that’s wrong.  Mark Twain once said that bravery “is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”  If you’ve ever talked to a special agent that you know well and you ask he or she about a dangerous encounter they were involved in, they’ll almost always give you the same answer, “yeah, I did it, but I was scared to heck the whole time.”  But that’s the essence of bravery.
Only a crazy person wouldn’t fear approaching a car with tinted windows during a late-night car stop, or pounding up a flight of stairs to execute a search warrant, or fast-roping from a helicopter down into hostile fire.  Real agents, like real people, feel that fear in the pit of their stomachs.  But you know the difference between them and most folks?  They do it anyway, and they volunteer to do that for a living.
What makes the bravery of the men and women of the FBI so special is that they know exactly what they’re in for.  They spend weeks and weeks in an academy learning just how hard and dangerous this work is.  Then they raise their right hands and take an oath, and do that work anyway.  They have seen the Wall of Honor — that I hope so much my friends and guests and family will get to see inside this building — with pictures and links to the lives of those who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country as FBI employees.
Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman said this:  “I would define true courage to be a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger and a mental willingness to endure it.”
I called a special agent a few weeks ago after he had been shot during an arrest.  I knew before I called him that he had already been injured severely twice in his Bureau career, once in a terrorist bombing and once in a helicopter crash.  Yet when I got him on the phone, I got the strong sense he couldn’t wait to get me off the phone.  He was embarrassed by my call.  “Mr. Director, it was a through and through wound.  No big deal.”  He was more worried about his Bureau car, which he had left at the scene of the shooting.  (Laughter.)  He felt okay, though, because his wife — also a special agent — was going to go get the car, so everything was fine.  (Laughter.)
The men and women of this organization understand perfectly the danger they’re in every day and choose to endure it because they believe in this mission.  That’s why bravery belongs on our shield.
And, finally, integrity.  Integrity is derived from the Latin word “integer,” meaning whole.  A person of integrity is complete, undivided.  Sincerity, decency, trustworthy are synonyms of integrity.  It’s on our shield because it is the quality that makes possible all the good that we do.  Because everything we do requires that we be believed, whether that’s promising a source that we will protect her, telling a jury what we saw or heard, or telling a congressional oversight committee or the American people what we are doing with our power and our authorities.  We must be believed.
Without integrity, all is lost.  We cannot do the good that all of these amazing people signed up to do.  The FBI’s reputation for integrity is a gift given to every new employee by those who went before.  But it is a gift that must be protected and earned every single day.  We protect that gift by making mistakes and admitting them, by making promises and keeping them, and by realizing that nothing — no case, no source, no fear of embarrassment — is worth jeopardizing the gift of integrity.  Integrity must be on the FBI shield.
So, you see, those three words — Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity — capture the essence of the FBI and its people.  And they also explain why I am here.  I wanted to be here to work alongside those people, to represent them, to help them accomplish their mission, and to just be their colleague.
It is an honor and a challenge beyond description.  I will do my absolute best to be worthy of it.  Thank you very much. (Applause.)
 END
12:55 P.M.

Full Text Obama Presidency October 18, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Nomination of Jeh Johnson to be Secretary of Homeland Security

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Nomination of Jeh Johnson to be Secretary of Homeland Security

Source: WH, 10-18-13

President Obama Nominates Jeh Johnson

President Obama Nominates Jeh Johnson

Rose Garden

2:06 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Please have a seat.  As President, my most solemn responsibility is the safety and security of the American people.  And we’ve got an outstanding team here of folks who work every single day to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to fulfill that responsibility.  And that means that our entire government — our law enforcement and homeland security professionals, our troops, our diplomats, our intelligence personnel — are all working together.  It means working with state and local partners to disrupt terrorist attacks, to make our borders more secure, respond to natural disasters, and make our immigration system more effective and fair.

Addressing any one of these challenges is a tall order.  Addressing all of them at once is a monumental task.  But that’s what the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security do every day.  And today I’m proud to announce my choice to lead them — an outstanding public servant who I’ve known and trusted for years — Mr. Jeh Johnson.

We are, of course, enormously grateful to Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Janet couldn’t be here today — she’s already made her move to her new position in sunny California, overseeing the higher education system in that great state.  And I know that she’s going to do an outstanding job there with the incredible young people that are in our largest state.  But we all deeply appreciate the terrific job that she did over the last four-and-a-half years.  I want to thank Rand Beers for his service and for stepping in as Acting Secretary after Janet left.

Thanks in no small part to Janet’s leadership, her team, we’ve done more to protect our homeland against those who wish to do us harm.  We’ve strengthened our borders.  We’ve taken steps to make sure our immigration system better reflects our values.  We’ve helped thousands of Americans recover from hurricanes and tornados, floods and wildfires.  And we’ve worked to clean up a massive oil spill in the Gulf as well as address a flu pandemic.

In Jeh Johnson, we have the right person to continue this important work.  From the moment I took office, Jeh was an absolutely critical member of my national security team, and he demonstrated again and again the qualities that will make him a strong Secretary of Homeland Security.

Jeh has a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States.  As the Pentagon’s top lawyer, he helped design and implement many of the policies that have kept our country safe, including our success in dismantling the core of al Qaeda and in the FATA.

When I directed my national security team to be more open and transparent about how our policies work and how we make decisions, especially when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, Jeh was one of the leaders who spoke eloquently about how we meet today’s threats in a way that are consistent with our values, including the rule of law.

Jeh also knows that meeting these threats demands cooperation and coordination across our government.  He’s been there in the Situation Room at the table in moments of decision, working with leaders from a host of agencies to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction.  And he’s respected across our government as a team player, somebody who knows how to get folks who don’t always agree to work towards a common goal.

Jeh has experience leading large complex organizations.  As a member of the Pentagon’s senior management team, first under Bob Gates and then under Leon Panetta, he helped oversee the work of more than 3 million military and civilian personnel across the country and around the world.  And I think it’s fair to say that both former secretaries Gates and Panetta will attest to the incredible professionalism that Jeh brings to the job, and the bipartisan approach that, appropriately, he takes when it comes to national security.

He’s also earned a reputation as a cool and calm leader.  Jeh appreciates that any organization’s greatest asset is its people, and at the Pentagon he guided the report explaining why allowing our men and women in uniform to serve their country openly would not weaken our military.  Congress ended up using that report that Jeh helped to craft to justify repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  And America and our military are stronger because we did, in part because of Jeh’s determined leadership.  I know he will bring that same commitment to our hardworking folks at DHS.

And finally, Jeh believes, in a deep and personal way, that keeping America safe requires us also upholding the values and civil liberties that make America great.  Jeh tells the story of his uncle who was a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.  And he and his fellow airmen served with honor, even when their country didn’t treat them with the dignity and the respect that they deserved.  And it was a lesson that Jeh never forgot.  “We must adopt legal positions that comport with common sense,” Jeh says, “consistent with who we are as Americans.”  Jeh is a pretty good lawyer, so he knows what that means.

And Jeh understands that this country is worth protecting –- not because of what we build or what we own, but because of who we are.  And that’s what sets us apart.  That’s why, as a nation, we have to keep adapting to changing threats, whether natural or man-made.  We have to stay ready when disaster strikes and help Americans recover in the aftermath.  We’ve got to fix our broken immigration system in a way that strengthens our borders, and modernizes legal immigration, and makes sure everybody is playing by the same rules.

And I’m confident that I could not make a better choice in Jeh, somebody who I’m confident is going to be moving not just the agency forward, but helping to move the country forward.

So, Jeh, thank you so much for agreeing to take on this very difficult and extraordinary mission.  You’ve got a great team over at DHS, and I know that they’re looking forward to having you over there.  I urge the Senate to confirm Jeh as soon as possible.  And I thank you, as well as your family, to agreeing to serve.  Your wife, Susan, and your daughter, Natalie, couldn’t be here because they’re visiting Jeh Jr. out at Occidental College, which, by the way, I went to for two years when I was young.  It’s a fine college.  I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say hi to him.  But your son chose well.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to invite Jeh Johnson to say a few words, hopefully our next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  (Applause.)

MR. JOHNSON:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

As you noted, my wife and two kids are not here because it’s parents’ weekend at Occidental, and thanks to the cost of a non-refundable airline ticket — (laughter) — they could not be in two places at once.  They wish they could be here.

Thank you for the tremendous honor of this nomination and the trust you have placed in me to carry out this large and important responsibility as Secretary of Homeland Security.  I was not looking for this opportunity — I had left government at the end of last year and was settling back into private life and private law practice.  But when I received the call, I could not refuse it.

I am a New Yorker, and I was present in Manhattan on 9/11, which happens to be my birthday, when that bright and beautiful day was — a day something like this — was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history.  I wandered the streets of New York that day and wondered and asked, what can I do?  Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question.  I love this country.  I care about the safety of our people.  I believe in public service.  And I remain loyal to you, Mr. President.

If confirmed by the Senate, I promise all of my energy, focus, and ability toward the task of safeguarding our nation’s national and homeland security.

Thank you again, sir.  (Applause.)

END

2:14 P.M. EDT

Political Headlines June 19, 2013: FBI Director Robert Mueller Reveals US Drone Program During NSA Testimony

FBI Chief Reveals US Drone Program

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-19-13

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The FBI does fly spy drones over the U.S. FBI Director Robert Mueller made that admission before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday during his testimony about the National Security Agency surveillance programs.

According to Mueller, the FBI deploys these unmanned planes in “a very minimal way and very seldom” and his bureau is working to develop guidelines for their future use so as to relieve concerns of privacy advocates and civil liberties groups….READ MORE

Political Headlines June 18, 2013: NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander: ‘Over 50’ Terror Plots Foiled by Data Dragnets

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

‘Over 50’ Terror Plots Foiled by Data Dragnets, NSA Director Says

Source: ABC News Radio, 6-18-13

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The director of the National Security Administration on Tuesday told Congress “In recent years, these programs, together with other intelligence, have protected the U.S. and our allies from terrorist threats across the globe to include helping prevent the potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11.”

The attacks on would-be targets such as the New York Stock Exchange were prevented by caching telephone metadata and Internet information, including from millions of Americans since Sept. 11, 2001, Gen. Keith Alexander said during a hearing at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence….READ MORE