tv George Mason Discussion on Presidents Intelligence Community CSPAN September 15, 2018 8:09pm-9:44pm EDT
tonight on c-span, take a look at how the president and the intelligence community interact. followed by the director of national intelligence remembering 9/11 and the commission that was established in its aftermath to prevent a similar terrorist attack. later, president trump welcomes several medal of honor recipients to the white house for a reception honoring their service. week, formeris intelligence officials discussed the relationship between the president and intelligence community. speakers included former cia directors, the former director of national intelligence, and former nsa directors. from george mason university, this is 90 minutes. >> good evening everyone. thank you for coming. of policyr the dean
and government here at george mason university. the michael b hayden center for intelligence policy and international security. tom delighted to welcome you the first hayden center event of this academic year, secrets, presidents, and dissent. welcome you to the first event of this academic year. sequence, presidents and dissent. we are pleased to have general hayden as the member of the faculty at george's -- george mason university where he has been teaching for the past decade and he is a popular instructor in the international security studies, masters degree program which i suppose i should mention is our fastest- growing graduate program here at george mason university and recently received high ranking as the number three program in
the country of which we are proud. a great turnout for the event says a lot about the importance that many have had to the issues and problems are distinguished panel will discuss this evening. i would like to recognize some of the people who were there -- here this evening. the former ambassador and former lieutenant -- lieutenant governor. >> thank you. several members of the george mason university visitors are here. we have a board of trustees member. i also acknowledge the associate dean of the school and the senior vice president for finance and administration will be here tonight and the most important supporter of the
center is mike's wife who will be could cheeking -- critiquing his performance tonight. i gratefully acknowledge the vision and continued counsel and support of the namesake of the school. finally, i recognize the person who needs no introduction for most of us here. it has been my privilege to be working with the president for several years. he is the six to president of george mason university and he is in the seventh year serving in the role. during this time, george mason university has achieved remarkable growth, outstanding ranking in many of its academic programs. the law school among other accomplishments. i am privileged to welcome our president.
[ applause ] university. this is the youngest year one university in the country. it is a remarkable story of growth in a short period of time. we are proud to be one of the most diverse universities in america. that was recognized also today. we always say diversity is our strength. diversity of people and ideas.
it is important for civil conversations and that we model in today's world, what it means to have conversations on important issues. to have people that think differently. that is why i am so excited about what is happening today. i hope today serves as a model of the type of important, enlightened, civil conversations that we think ought to be the norm in our society. we are fortunate to have general hayden is a distinguished visiting professor. the ability to attract such an esteemed panel and audience demonstrates the recent effect of the school and the role that it plays in reaching, dissecting and explaining crucial issues. general hayden, we are so grateful for the work you do on behalf of the university. i am pleased to welcome tonight, united states
representative don byers, who is serving his second term representing virginia's eighth congressional district. he serves on the joint economic committee and house committee of natural resources and is vice ranking of the science, space and technology committee and ranking member of the oversight committee. he also served as ambassador to switzerland. i want to thank the congressman for some important, thoughtful comments for our university that he made last spring in joint hearings targeting americans research and development. he spoke very eloquently about the need to increase vigilance and security protection, which we take very seriously. he also underlined the fact that
foreign talent and scientists play a crucial role in this country and we cannot take care of one problem, without paying close attention to the strength that we have in that regard. so we really appreciate those comments that you made. he is certainly no stranger to mason. he holds an annual women's conference here, which will be repeated in this room, as well as a small business development event. he is also involved in environmental issues. it is a great pleasure to introduce to you, congressman john bier. >> thank you. good evening. i am so fortunate to represent the eighth district, but especially george mason university. i remember when this was a department store. how far it has come. i think i can say with
confidence, there is no university in the united states and world that has had the meteoric rise in capabilities and reputation as george mason. so, thank you. i would also point out to the intelligence professionals, that when i graduated back in 1972, the first thing i did was go and apply for a job at the central intelligence agency and i was turned away. we are very fortunate to be here at the charter school of policy and government. they have been dear friends for decades and have built tens of thousands of new homes. now they are helping to build a whole cadre of government officials. i feel very privileged to be here tonight to learn about secrets, presidents and dissent, at a crossroads in the history
of that. i can't think of a more interesting place to be while we wait for hurricane florence to hit. thank you for overseeing the creation of the center for intelligence policy and international security. it is always uncomfortable for people in charge. it can cause you a point in a tennis match. you can get ejected from a baseball came. -- in a baseball game. general hayden doesn't need much introduction. in 40 years of public service, he served in a variety of positions. he served in the air force, retiring as a four-star general. he was assigned to the national security council, the air intelligence agency, u.s.
command in korea, before being appointed director of the national security agency in 1999 and then director of the cia. he knows quite a bit about the internal workings of the intelligence committee -- intelligence community, the accountability of the intelligence community, which will be a focus tonight. i want to take a member to remember the significance of this day, september 11. we persevere, 17 years later, thanks to those who keep us safe. our servicemen, first responders, our intelligence community and so many others. thank you for having me here tonight. thank you to general hayden. i look forward to the vigorous discussion and i give you general hayden. [ laughter ] plus mac --
>> thank you all for coming. this is the inaugural event of the second year. we spent last year talking about truth in a post-truth world. then we thought a nice organizational concept for year two would be around accountability. that is still our theme. we laid out a predictable course of events of things we would cover in the events for the hayden center. then there was that security clearance thing that happened. so we decided this might actually be a good opportunity to take advantage of that controversy to take a look at the question of presidents and secrets and the extent.
what are the private bounds of that kind of activity in a free and open society. so, that is the topic tonight. i will very briefly introduce the panel members and invite them to come up, one by one. you have some detail in your programs. we really do want to get on to the discussion and your questions, before we are done. let me introduce phil mudd. he was a career analyst at the cia. he was in our counterterrorism center, living what he thought was a happy life, until i called him one afternoon and said i need you to go over to the fbi and set up their intelligence analytic structure. we remain friends. mike rogers, a wonderful career in the navy. ended up, the last several years of his career as director of the national security agency
and director of the u.s. cyber command. he was in that position, u.s. cyber command, when all the metal was still malleable. he had a very powerful hand in shaping what it is that command will be for us in the future. jim clapper, now i could shorten my introduction for jim bice -- introduction for jim by simply naming the important positions he has not held. he has been director of the intelligence agency, the national geospatial intelligence agency. he was on my board of directors when i became director of the national security agency and he has been under secretary of defense for intelligence. and then, our moderator or referee for tonight's discussion is a good friend of mine. we were compatriots in the bush 43 white house. i think all of you know, she is
now a regular and a commentator on msnbc. we are ready for you. >> thank you. thank you. well, so much is made of how much all of you add, admiral rogers there's no time for you, but what all of you add by the roles you have on television. so it is on behalf of everyone who gets to watch you and learn from all of you, thank you. i want to dive right into where we find ourselves. you can never do too much planning, because there are so many different things happening. you all signed a letter dissenting from the president's decision to revoke former cia
director brandon's security clearances and i want to ask you about that letter. we will come around. i want to hear about that, too. let me start with you, general hayden. >> that was actually a fairly easy call. >> let me read a little bit of it, too, to refresh everyone's mind. this was the president's decision to revoke the security clearance. you cosigned a letter that says we have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case. beyond that, this is quite clearly a signal to other former and current officials, individuals that help preserve the right to free speech, that signals -- that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable. >> to be very candid, it is an
inconvenience for all of us, but it is for the benefit of the government, not for us. i don't go up to langley, rifle my old files, take some notes and go down to talk to wolf blitzer. frankly, the question of people like us, three of four of us are under contract to a major news outlet to talk on the air, it is a fair question, should people like us continue to have security clearances, given the role we have freely chosen? it is a choice and that is a fair question. that is not the action. the action was punishing john and threatening to punish others with losing clearances. we just thought, this is a
legitimate conversation over here. this was punitive action for political dissent. although i don't think any of us would enjoy any of this, given all the personal burdens it would bring. in our view, there is a higher principle involved that we would be denied something to us -- denied something that we would otherwise be entitled, because of political speech. >> can i press you on this a little bit? a former official who is not as public as the three of you, signed his name to preserve that principle that you described. that revoking the clearance of a critic walked the line of not being an american tactic. do you put that in the category
, what the president has engaged in, of closing -- of coming close to changing the country? >> i don't mind being on tv, trying to explain american espionage to the broader american public. i think that is a public service. because of the current circumstances, we are put in a position when i do what i just described. we seem to be frequently in opposition to what it is that the president or one of his surrogates just said. we are not enthused by that. we are all made uncomfortable by that. i think the issue that is generally applicable, not just us, is that the president doesn't argue the facts of the case. he attacks the character, legitimacy and validity of the other side. i am not saying that has never
happened before in american history, but not to this degree. to this almost reflexive response to any degree of criticism. we were talking earlier about my article yesterday for the hill in which i said i have gotten myself to the position, where we are in a in case of emergency, break glass situation. we are doing things we didn't plan on doing. we are not enthused about doing them, but we will go do. >> admiral rogers, you dissented from the dissenters. >> that is not what i would say. >> do you agree with this sentiment? >> let me walk you through my thought process. first, as you heard, i am newly retired. i am 100 some odd days into the new life.
as this was unfolding, i was struck by a couple of things. first, i agree with the fundamental premise that it is the right of every citizen to express their views. i have spent my professional life making sure that right remains. i truly believes that is one of our strengths. two things that gave me pause. the first, one things i have been a part of have always remembered, it is about the outcomes. i said to myself, is this going to be effective? i thought, a group of former senior intelligence officials being -- officials complaining about how another official is being treated, i'm not sure that is the best way to address a valid concern. i applaud admiral mcraven, for example. i thought what he did was truly professional. that was truly effective. someone who had no dog in the
fight, directly, spoke up to say there is a fundamental principle here. i also thought, throwing gasoline on a fire is not going to reduce the flames. we have enough fires burning. we need to focus on the outcomes we need to achieve as a nation. remember, every one of us with or without a clearance, remain the right to say what we want and do what we think is the right thing. the last thing is probably what prompted me to do this. it was the first time i had done anything with the media since i entered this new life after retiring from 37 years as a naval officer. the other concern i had was, is this going to make the work harder of the men and women who are doing the job? as a guy who is on the inside for part of this, to be very honest, this is not helping. my concern is, intelligence is
most effective when the perception is that what they are seeing represents a true, objective, analytical assessment. it is not in any way influenced by political views, administrations, particular policies. for me, i have talked to the teams that have led within my intelligence career, we must ensure that nothing we do calls into question the objective nature of intelligence. because i have watched at times and we have all seen experiences when that has been called into question. we think you are not listening to what we are saying. instead, we are focused on, are you telling me this because you like this policy or don't like this policy? for me, i just thought i agree with the point the letter was making.
i am concerned that this won't be the most effective way to make the point. and number two, i am concerned what this will do for the men and women doing that work in the agencies we have all been a part of. as a result, i opted not to go this route, even as i recognized that anybody can stand up for what you believe. i don't question that for a minute. >> can i press you for a little bit. this is the first time anyone is hearing from you in this role and you worked for donald trump, so let me ask you -- [ laughter ] let me just follow up with something published yesterday. we will all be surprised together. i fear that the creator did not endow trump with the emotional, or ethical tools to carry out the responsibilities of his office. >> that is when i focused on the expertise i developed for 37 years.
>> so -- >> let me finish the thought, if i can. you have never heard me talk about either president i worked for. each was trying to do their best job to the best of their ability. i have my own views, get me wrong, which i share with my families and others, but i am concerned. part of this is part of the ethos. part of that culture always said, remember, when you take the uniform off, particularly the four-star, it doesn't end. you need to be very mindful. i am not trying to criticize anyone else. everyone needs to do what they think is right and i did what i thought was right. >> i don't want to make you uncomfortable. you testified under oath on capitol hill under some pretty
intense questions that you had not been given the tools you needed. that you are not given the authorization. i will read it. you had not been given the authorization you needed to fight fire with fire. i believe senator elizabeth warren was part of that weston thing. did that improve? did that improve between the time you testified? >> you can tell over time, we were moving in what i thought was a positive direction. >> did that change? did that change come from the top? >> the leadership was clearly part of that, because we are top-down. it doesn't come from the bottom, it comes from the top. i was glad to see the broad direction we were moving. but it was not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. >> and you weren't alone. others testified they weren't
given all the authority they needed. did you see that improve. -- see that improve? >> yes. >> let me bring up something bob woodward reports that you said. he writes, i don't believe in human sources, donald trump told clapper. these are people, human sources, who have sold their souls and sold out their country. i don't trust human intelligence. i don't have it here, but i believe director brennan said something like, i won't tell the team. to pick up on what admiral rogers thought, you both talked about this idea that it is the job or mission of the intelligence community to customize the intelligence product for the customer who is the president of the united states, whoever he or she is. but how do you customize a product for a man who does not believe in human sources, these are people who sold their souls
and sold out their country. they have done so to help our country. >> in fairness, this is a comment that the president- elect at the time made on 6 january. he didn't make it to just me, it was all of us. mike rogers, john brennan and jim cooley. given the remarks he made at ci recently, it would appear to me, at least the inference you can draw, he got smarter about it or more educated about the value. but he did make a comment, or something like that. i don't remember the exact words. we didn't dwell on it at the time. again, this was 20 months ago. the president-elect at the time, had very little or virtually no exposure to intelligence at all. in fairness to him, it is part
of the education process. i would say that the interesting contrast here between mike hayden and mike rogers, i think it reflects the decision, whether or not to speak out, is a highly personal one. mike rogers, i think it is quite understandable to take the position he has taken. he will get over it. [ laughter ] you know, having served in this administration, i think he is going to come at it from a different perspective. it was 23 years ago for me this month that i retired from the military. september, 1995. it never occurred to me to speak out or go on television or any of that.
but, i came to the conclusion that we are in a very different place and a very different atmosphere right now, so what bothered me to start with was the characterization of how i actually got into it. the president-elect, his characterization of the intelligence committee was off and i felt i had to speak up. i did and he took the call. my thing was just defending and explaining the intelligence committee -- intelligence community. following the model set by general hayden. he was tremendous for us in the aftermath of snowden. i could go on television. i didn't have to get interagency coordination or consult with lawyers. he could just explain things in a way i couldn't.
i remember that model. it is kind of my turn. what bothers me the most is the institutions and values and norms and standards of this country that i spent a good 50+ years, in one capacity or another, under every president since john f. kennedy. when they were under assault, as they are now, i felt it was my duty and obligation to speak up. that is not without controversy. i get blowback from my own tribes. military and certain seniors in the intelligence community do not think it is helpful. but again, as you see tonight, between mike hayden and mike rogers -- >> let me review from this anonymous op-ed that came from
a senior administration official. we have all been senior administration officials and can tell you that there are a whole lot of senior administration officials. we don't know who this was. this came out the day after bob woodward's book and together the two pieces created a narrative that suggested to us and the public that there are serious questions about the presidents competence and fitness and how he cares about his job. we believe our first duty is to this country and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. given the instability, there were many whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. no one wants to cause a constitutional crisis, so we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction.
patriot or coward? that is the debate. i vote patriot, but i am not -- >> go ahead. [ laughter ] >> by the way, the only reason i am here is because phil mudd is here. so, this is a classic -- >> isn't the information good? the new york times has a standard -- >> the point is, for those who are trump critics, this is a courageous thing to do. and to speak out and assure people that there are adults in the room, to use the phrase, the clichi, that are looking out for the best interests of the country and are abiding by the constitution. they are not driven by loyalty to an individual. having said that, there is the other camp that thinks this is
treasonous and disloyal and all that. i do think, depending on the position of this person, and i am not convinced it is one person, but let's say it is. praying on the position of a person and their stature, it probably would have been more compelling had he or she gone public and then quickly called for resignation, i think. i do think it won't take as long as it took us to find out about mark felt. >> i hope not. why is it a tribal question about the presidents fitness to serve? >> it is a tribal question. people come out -- >> this is a republican. >> well, we can talk about whether the republican party has the traditional advantage. i don't think it does.
i think what it espouses now is upside down from what it has always been. this is different than what we traditionally ascribe. >> i agree with director clapper. [ laughter ] let's be really clear here. there is not an allegation of illegality in that document, presumably written by someone who is not elected by the american people. it is a person's analysis of fitness for duty. the american people get to vote for somebody who they think is going to change the dynamic in washington, dc and we get to say i disagree with his judgment, temperament and intellect. i think this person gets one shot. at some point, if you are not elected by the people and you make allegations about something that doesn't cross the line into illegality, my question would be, and i have
said unkind things about the president on tv, my view would be he is not fit for duty. that is not a legal judgment. i have not seen anything from the special counsel that indicates the president will ever be alleged to have done something illegal. so i want to know from the author, if you're going to undermine the president, maybe you get one shot. but i do not believe you have the right, long term, to attack a president elected by the people. if you don't cross the line to say i have seen something that violates the law clearly and i have to stay because this is a violation of the constitution. i didn't see that. >> if i can give a comment, the reality of living in a system where everyone decides what they're going to do or not going to do. stand up and speak your mind. hold yourself accountable. but i just find that the power
of the structure is of value to the institutions. as a member of one of those institutions until 90 days ago as an intelligence professional, we have got to uphold the values and ethos, even if others have different views and are engaged at time and behaviors we don't like. we have to represent norms. we have to make sure that in the face of that, we are maintaining our professionalism. our ethos. our integrity. like he said, you didn't get elected. if you feel you can't live with this, make a case. make an argument. use your right as a citizen. stand up and be accountable for what you believe in. but don't attempt the type of resistance movement the just feeds this narrative that you can't trust the institutions
anymore. i think that is a bad place for us to be. >> if i can make one more comment, for every student out here who watches cable tv, watch what just happened in this audience with a group of people who said i have a different perspective and can speak about this civilly. the president of the united states had an opportunity. i have not revealed anything to anyone. my question would have been, if someone signs a contract with a media organization that might include commentary that is partisan or political, shouldn't that person have a policy that declines further access to information? that is a fair question the president asked. i agree with my former supervisor and the man who destroyed my life, general hayden. [ laughter ] this is really uncomfortable for people like me who are told -- when i wake
up on vacation, the president of the united states says i am going to threaten you after you say something i don't like. that to me, i am going to say, no you are not. that dog don't hunt. it is a bigger responsibility to say you're not going to tell me when i can speak. that is not going to happen. >> what is your redline? you know, i watch all of you on tv. i am very familiar with your body of criticisms. you believe the president is not stable enough to hold the nuclear codes. you believe the president can't leave the intelligence community. we talked about why that might be. none of you are partisan. you are all extremely alarmed by his comments in office.
so, putting aside this right to know who is criticizing him, what is it about his conduct that created the redline? >> so, i have deep disagreements. post-world war ii policy, france and america, based on national consensus. immigration is a good thing. it is better for america. secondly, our system is a national strength, not a drain on resources. finally, the world's economy is benefited by free trade. he is challenging all of those things and i would argue about every one of those. but in the argument, what the president has decided to do, rather than argue the facts of the case -- you cannot create
the role, showing the president attack the facts of the case. instead, what he does is try to invalidate intelligence officers. the fbi is in tatters. >> the deep state is corrupt. >> yeah. >> this morning. 911. >> there was another one that actually said, the justice department under eric holder would be acting just like the justice department under the attorney general today. i actually responded to the tweet. i said, being go. that is exactly right. he meant that as a condemnation of today's justice department. so, the choice we have, number
one. here is the crossover point. for me, it is my continued silence, this is going to come out wrong, out of respect for the office, is it creating the assumption on the part of others that that is acceptable or normal? or an okay attitude to have? that is really the argument i have with myself. am i normalizing my silence? something that we should not consider to be normal. knowing full well, like we said, it is absolutely correct. because when we go out, just our being here is, at a minimum, nontraditional. it is downright warm busting for us to be here.
we know, we are creating second and third order effects that are harmful to the institutions from which we have come. but i made the calculation that silence is no longer acceptable. now, each of us in our own way choose our own formula with regard to how we criticize. by the way, john brennan would have been here tonight if he weren't in korea. he has been the most forward in personalizing the attacks. but we all enjoy some flavor of that at one time or another. there are certain choices to be made along the scale, but i think those of us who have criticized have made the choice. we are willing to accept the risk in order to do something,
to go back to my earlier metaphor, in emergency, break glass. >> are you breaking the glass? >> i have tried, yeah. three of us are under contract with cnn. no offense to msnbc. >> it is okay. we are good. we all benefit. >> jim and i were arriving two or three weeks ago with the tribal elders and having a conversation. this is a very senior retired community. there were a range of views. some were very supportive. there were others who thought we should not be there at all. that is not an illegitimate point of view. it's not mine. you were in the room. >> i am with you. that is exactly, as usual, a very articulate portrayal of the debate, the issue, the controversy. and where you come down on it is a very personal thing.
>> what is your degree of alarm about russia and about the ongoing sort of practice of the president downplaying their role? there is the helsinki moment you all spoke out about. the threat for you, with what you knew. you briefed the president. you were there, too, admiral rogers. the russia threat has not improved. i am glad to hear that we are doing more than before, but that is not an impulse that has been checked. he stood in helsinki, next to vladimir putin, and accepted his version of events. >> well, this is a great opportunity for me to plug my book. [ laughter ] it was one of the motivations for writing the book. my alarm about the russians and what i saw them doing in the run-up to our election in 2016.
55 or whatever it has been years in intel, and i have seen a lot of bad stuff. but nothing that disturbed me more viscerally than when i came to comprehend and understand the scope and magnitude and aggressiveness of what the russians did to our election. i went so far in my book to say that because of the magnitude and aggressiveness and the multidimensional nature of what they did, i think they actually influenced the outcome of the election. the russians are still at it. they are committed to undermining our symptom -- undermining our system. one of the things that disturbed me is, for whatever reason, the presidents failure to callout the russians for what they are doing. that is important. we do a lot of things. components in the government can do a lot of things, but without the sense of urgency
that is compelled by the presidents leadership, galvanizing not just the public, but society against the profound threat posed by the russians, that is what disturbs me and why i wrote my book. >> do you agree that he has refused to callout putin? is that a fair assessment? >> i am not going to speak for anyone else, but i will give you my experience. after we continued the assessment on this topic and continue to discuss with him and others about what we were seeing, he would say to me, i am in a different place. i would say, i understand that, but you pay me to tell you what we think. it's not about politics or parties, it is about a foreign state attempting to subvert the very tenants of our structure
and trying to undermine us. that should concern us as citizens and leaders. if we do not do something, they are not going to stop. the first time this occurred wasn't 2016. it was a whole new level, a whole new set of capabilities, versus some very traditional kinds of things. it had an almost exponential impact in some ways, in terms of the breath of the activity. i do believe there is value having relations with the russians. there are lots of areas where we have commonality, i have belief in that. but we can't have the relationship we want if they are going to continue fundamentally undermining our system. that is unacceptable and we need to be direct that it is unacceptable. we need to be sending that message from the top and the bottom of the structure. they are hearing it from all of us. >> you say he was in a different place, where was he?
>> that was a phrase he was using, i am in a different place than you are. >> i am not being facetious. was it ideological? he wanted to do some geopolitical realignment? >> i will hazard a guess. we actually run into it at trump tower, this evidence of the russians undermining us cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. he could not then and he cannot now accept that. i think that is fundamentally the space he is in. >> as a lead-in, how important is the mueller investigation? >> it is important because of the cloud that is over this country and over the presidency. it resolves some issues, one of
which is collusion or not, which only the mueller investigation has any chance of resolving that issue. at some point the investigation has to end and i think there has to be some transparency for the american people about the truth. >> how critical is the mueller investigation? >> i think it is a critical test for whether america says we can have independent investigations of individuals, regardless of where they are in society. i don't think it will lead to charges that indicate the president was involved in something nefarious with the russians. i don't know if that involves people on his staff. what i worry about is not that the investigation will show whether there was some sort of hollywood undermining of the american election process. what i worry about is twofold. one, as someone who served at
the fbi and department of justice. this is an important, predicated case. it is fine, given what i have seen, for the department of justice to investigate this. it is the same thing they would do with something -- with someone like me. i am afraid if there aren't charges, there will be a political process to say the whole investigation is inappropriate and i would say it is the same thing we do with all of you if we saw that kind of financial fraud. you defrauded the government out of millions of dollars, is that insubstantial? and if the investigation gets closer to the white house or stops now, the president steps in and says i am going to sidestep this process, to remove -- what's the term i am looking for? for my son-in-law, paul manafort, to pardon them.
i think that will be incredibly corrosive in terms of a conversation with the congress and also in terms of how the american people look at something that they have historically looked at as very positive. is justice impartial in this country? is the -- is it a good place? the president is leading the american people to believe that institutions of state are corrupt. i don't care what he did with stormy daniels. the stuff about institutions of state is really corrosive and that is what i worry about. >> you all worked alongside bob mueller. i got to know him after 9/11. he was george w. bush's fbi director and he would be coming out from the press conferences. george bush would say, i get the scary news and then the bad news. i want to know what you think, all of you, having known the man personally, what you make of
donald trump's efforts to malign his character? >> i will believe with my view of the character of robert mueller. if i had the choice among 330 million americans as to who i wanted to entrust with the future of confidence in american democracy, it would be robert mueller. honest, thorough, professional, talented. he is continuing the course of the investigation. when this began, perhaps even with you on error, a year and a half ago, i thought it would be over by the summer. wrong. and that it would end up in a national rorschach test. it would be a bit of a cloud and those who wanted to believe one thing would say, you see.
others would say, you see. it has gone on longer. i think it has expanded and gotten deeper. i think it has multiple threads. with no data, i think there is more there than i thought there was six, 12 or 18 months ago. >> on the collusion and obstruction question? >> on a variety of questions. i think those instincts are mine, not the president, per se. but the broader staff will have a lot of tough questions to answer. i think the indictment of the 13 russians was establishing the predicate for a criminal act, which we will then see whether or not we connect any americans. >> someone on the campaign, or -- >> right. again, my instinct, no data, my instinct is that the president has acted more and more desperate, more and more frightened about the prospect
of the investigation continuing, so he has doubled down on his attacks of the person of robert mueller and the institutions he represents or is guiding. whatever you think, the sum total of what he has done, for transient personal or political needs. we will judge how political order not they are, but for his needs he is willing to accept long-term destructive action against critical institutions of american society. >> you were asked in march 2017, by the president, it has been reported, so let me know if it is wrong. you are asked to publicly deny that there was any evidence of collusion. you refused to do so, saying it was inappropriate. >> i was never asked to that. >> so that was incorrect.
>> i was never asked that. if i spent my time correcting media reporting, i would never get anything done. >> so this has been reported and stood as correct until tonight, but it was also reported that trump's conversation with rogers was documented in a memo written by a senior official. >> no comment. >> so, no comment. do you think robert mueller's mission is noble? >> i think he is fulfilling an important mission for us as a nation. i like to think it shows that we are a system, a nation of laws and processes that are designed to ensure an independent assessment. i look at it and go, that is a good thing for the nation as a whole. i have no clue what they will or will not find. no clue. i hear lots of opinions, but no one really knows.
just those who were involved. let the process go through and let's see. >> you testified under oath that you were worried. you said you are concerned that president putin has come to the conclusion that there is little price to pay here. >> right, we are talking about the cyber activity. >> right, and that was one of his methods for meddling in our democracy. >> one of the tools he used. >> and he went on to say that what we have done have not been enough. is it your senses efforts are ongoing? >> i have lost it. >> your testimony was -- >> just tell me in english what you want -- >> you testified to the fact that putin didn't believe there was a price to pay for ongoing meddling in our democracy. that seems to be an area that may overlap with robert mueller's investigation. >> i don't know if it does or not. i don't have a clue what he is specifically looking at. >> but it is getting at the bottom of russian meddling. is that an urgent --
>> we need to understand this and be public about it. we need to articulate exactly what happened. without that, we will not be optimized for dealing with it in the future. for me, as important as the discussion is about did they or didn't they, the most important thing to me is, what are we going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again? that is where we need to focus. >> what is the answer? >> a whole host of things. there are some things ongoing, but among the most important is to make sure the russians understand this is unacceptable and we are not going to tolerate it. >> do they hear that message -- >> i don't know, i am not privy to his conversations. at times he has chosen not to use public forums. you heard me say, we need to synchronize the message and we
need to make sure we are consistent. we need to be very direct. >> so you are saying it is not true that the president asked you to convey that -- >> i have never had a discussion on collusion with the president of the united states. >> how about the chief of staff? >> i have never had a discussion on collusion. i have never been directed. every time i had a discussion, i was able to say, here is my view on that. >> if you are asked to share that information with robert mueller, would you? >> if i was asked by robert mueller in the course of the investigation, of course i would. >> you understand the freak out that people had after helsinki? you understand why people thought -- we talked before about how you were in rural pennsylvania and they don't have the concerns we have in washington. do you understand the concerns?
i am just asking, do you understand the degree of alarm that people have when an american president takes the word of vladimir putin over the collective assessment -- >> i thought there was an opportunity there i wish he had taken advantage of. he opted to go a different direction. that is certainly his right as the president, but i wish we had taken advantage of the opportunity. it could have sent a very powerful message. >> director dan coats said he would not have advised him to have a one-on-one meeting. would you have? >> it depends on the specifics. in general, i am a proponent of talking. again, i am not going to get into what if scenarios. i never found that very fulfilling. >> do you worry about the threat on russia being lost as we walk up to almost 60 days from a midterm election, do you
worry that we have missed opportunities? >> well, you are speaking specifically with respect to the security and sanctity of our election process and all that? >> all of it. >> i do worry about that. because, remembering our voting apparatuses basically controlled at the state and local level and i am sure some communities have done a lot to enhance security and others, not so much. that is what we observed in 2016. again, in the absence of assertive leadership, which i think can only come from the president, i have concerns about the security and the sanctity of our voting apparatus in the midterms. >> i guess i put that question to you, because you make the
distinction in your op-ed that you didn't come as far as you did, in terms of your assessment of the 2016 results. you believe the outcome was impacted by the russians, so we are headed into the midterms. has enough changed since that election? >> i don't know. i am not in a position any longer to assess that. i have been out of the government for 20 months. i would surmise, from what i read, that it is uneven. i will put it that way. >> admiral rogers, is it your sense that america is doing more or less under president trump than they did under president obama? >> i am not going to compare two presidents. >> this is policy. >> i am not going to compare the policies of two presidents. >> is the nsa doing enough to preserve and protect -- >> while i was there, yes. >> would you vouch for the
sanctity of the results in 60 days? do you think we are sufficiently fortified against russian meddling in the upcoming election? >> again, it depends on the specifics. the positive side is the recognition of the problem. part of it highlights one of the challenges of our current structure versus technology. what do i mean by that? in the u.s. structure, elections are done at a state and local level and they then generate, in some cases, national outcomes. one of the challenges, i always thought, was you tell me how we expect a county, a state, to withstand the efforts of a nationstate. that is a tough challenge. i was part of it, i tried to work on something i still feel strongly about. we have got to figure out how we can have more integrated
approaches to these problems. this is where, to me, at times, our structure and processes are not always up to the world we are living in now. you have watched the russians take advantage of that as part of their strategy. we need to try to fill in those seams. it is all about bringing together integrating solutions to problems. it isn't going to be enough. i am not going to argue, but there is a definite structural piece to this, as well. >> general hayden, can you give me your assessment of where you think we are, policy -wise, heading into this first election. the 2016 election is still under investigation by robert mueller and others were looking at and trying to improve our defenses against russian meddling. we still have a president --
>> let me ask you the question you asked mike and he felt uncomfortable answering. i have been under -- been out of government 10 years. i think i still have my pension. i think we are better defended under the current administration than under the obama administration, simply because of the natural progression of the institutions of the american government. caa, director of national intelligence, standing on the shoulders of their predecessors. taking lessons learned. general, i invite your comment on this, but you said this was an unprecedented attack and you were impressed by it. but it evolved in front of you and your knowledge of it developed. then the policy guys were lagging even further behind the intel guys in appreciating what it was you were telling them. we are beyond that now. we know that. >> that is exactly right. it does point out something about the misapprehension in
intelligence that all revelation occurs in one day. that wasn't the case at all. this is something, i get frequently asked questions. when did you know, when was the exact instant that lightbulb went on and you knew this was different than anything before? >> it wasn't any grand revelation when the lightbulb went on, because something evolved. particularly the spring, summer, fall of 2016. as we gathered more information, got more insight, understood better the magnitude of what they were doing. i think it is exactly right. the symptom is going to build -- the system is going to build on that knowledge that we built when we left. that is why president obama ordered up the intelligence committee -- intelligence
community assessment, because he wanted everything we had at the time put together in one document, in several versions. one of which, that he specifically directed, was that there be an unclassified version, to do as much as we could to educate the public. we looked at baseline knowledge with the public about what the russians had done. i think mike is exactly right. the institutions, the community, the department of homeland security, i am sure, has built on that. >> what you've got are the institutions of government and everybody is doing some work. i think we are doing less than we need to do. without extraordinary presidential intervention, saying we have to play different, everyone is doing
what they are doing in their position. in sa is playing in their lane, more robustly. it is a little bit like 9/11, a bad day to bring up the analogy. after 9/11, president bush in essence intervened and said we are going to go do things differently. a lot of those are controversial and we will probably have that in a later session. >> connecting the dots. >> we are going to restructure how we do things, because we just got an attack from an unexpected direction. we are better off. we are not as well off as we should be, but i want to make a point. this is something we talked about in the green room. you asked the question about manipulating the election. i don't think that is the issue.
we can defend against that. it is manipulating our heads. the russians have been magnificent at that, building on inherent american divisions. >> i think we are missing the story here. this is where i don't think it is an intelligent story, it is a political and leadership story related to the white house and the congress. you look at what the russians have done. we keep talking about protecting the electoral process. this is a revolutionary leader in russia that wants to reestablish the empire. he is about sowing discord at a profound level in our society. he is trying, if you look at their activity at a mid tier level to discuss -- to disrupt elections. at the macro level, he is trying to create a civil war in this country. that is where the white house needs to interject. say, look, we are the american people. we want to be a city on the hill. we have to get over discord and talk about how we get beyond
things like racial divides in this country that involve a black headshot in a white neighborhood by a white cop. that is what the russians are trying to do and it is profound. >> how do we do that? >> one of the questions i have raised repeatedly on tv is, you have congressional leadership. they don't have to attack the president. that is a debatable question. i do think there has to be a conversation that says, how do we bring people together instead of encouraging people to demonstrate against someone else in charlottesville and say a white supremacist equates with a black activist? i am going to get personal. i have a website. it is a low-budget website. it is the emails i get from across america that are threats , if they are any indication of what is going on in this country , and the volume is such that i
think they are, we are in trouble. not from the electoral process, but from people in cities across this country hating each other. that is what the russians are trying to go after. i think the subtext is electoral discord. the overall messages we want america to be so consumed with civil discourse, that they don't care what we do in ukraine. >> what do people in the press, including your peers, get wrong in their analysis and in my case , reporting, on the president? >> i don't know, to be honest. i have literally spent 100 days trying to focus on my family and getting some sleep. i paid little attention. >> but he has a reputation for not being a voracious consumer. he has a reputation for not being curious about foreign policy. are there narratives out there that you are aware of, you are
serving him in a very senior role -- >> i would say he approaches this job, having worked for two presidents, he approaches this job in a fundamentally different way from coming from a totally different background. the system is finding it a challenge. so what is most effective with him, versus others. it is as much to me the system trying to understand him as it is him trying to understand the system. as a leader, i would sit down with my team and say, okay, here is what we need to do to be effective. here is what i think helps provide the insight that generates better policies. we have to realize different individuals, different structures, different backgrounds approach things differently. as i look at things, he finds this really challenging. it is like we said, the thing
that concerns me the most is that our institutions are under attack. that is the strength of our system. it is the fact we can count on these institutions, their commitment to the rule of law over time. regardless of the broader context. that has been a real strength for us, as a nation. i just do not want to lose that. there are implications, if you can't trust the institutions that are the daily mechanisms of government for our citizens. that puts us in a bad place. >> but they are under attack, in part, by the president, no? >> to me, there is a broad, interesting dynamic we find ourselves in. it is not just about one individual. it is somewhat symptomatic to me of a broader dialogue that is ongoing. you mentioned it. i literally spent 100 days
fully outside of dc. in some cases, no wi-fi access, spotty cell phone, didn't watch cable television. it is interesting to me. i thought, wow, the dialogue i am hearing in some of the rural areas is different than the world i just spent -- the battles are fundamentally different. i just thought, why? part of me was asking myself, why is it like this? why is this big disconnect? for example, the op-ed piece. i never once had a discussion with anybody. they all knew what my job was. i knew them for years. family, friends, others. they have known me for years, but nobody asked me. on the other hand, i have been back in dc for 48 hours and i
haven't had an interaction where this didn't come up. it just strikes me as a little bizarre. >> to turn the question around, to protect those institutions, what would be helpful? would it be understanding that they are the line between where we are now and getting better or worse and would it be helpful if the president stopped attacking the intelligence community -- >> let's focus on the things we can control. let's make sure we focus on this administration. let's focus on what we can control. as a senior, i would try to argue these are broadly the things i think we need to do to keep moving forward. one of the things i think we
need to do is ask ourselves, how can we strengthen these institutions? how can we make sure they are viewed as part of the solution and not part of the problem? if they are viewed as part of the problem, it affects our structure. we are really in the hurt locker, because we don't have much of an alternative. this is the structure the founding fathers created. this is what we have done over time to generate great things for our nation. it is not perfect and the men and women who have been part of it are not perfect. in my experience, they want to do the right things for the right reasons, to the best of their abilities. that is the part i want to see, how do we keep that moving forward? >> you and general matus and general kelly and a handful of others are often described as people outside of government. we project onto you that you
are the guardrails against an unstable president. >> i don't know that -- >> how do you feel about that analysis? it comes from a place of fear and desperation that we want to believe that people like you and others are guardrails on this president. how do you feel -- >> i always felt that i was doing the right thing for the right reason, the right way. as long as you do that, you are part of an ethos in the team that you lead. one of the 10 senior operational commands. as long as you focus on that, as long as the team focused on that, as long as we focused on outcomes of doing the right thing the right way, we will be good. >> i think it is emblematic in general. if you are doing your thing, you are just focusing on your job, your mission. parts of the intelligence
community are not affected at all by any of this beltway fervor. that mike didn't run into in pennsylvania. i think, you know, i have great faith and trust and confidence in the great men and women of the intelligence community. in the end they will do the right thing and they are going to tell truth to power, whether the power listens to truth or not. >> does the ethos that admiral rogers described extend to this white house, in your experience? >> well, i have written about this. the president is instinctive, rather than thoughtful. prone to action. frankly i think he has far more confidence in instinct than he does in data presented to him. he gets confidence to a particular conclusion, more often based on who told him, rather than the evidence year
effect that is underneath that conclusion. the problem that presents for all of us is the institution we represent operates on what i just described to you. analytical, experimental, pragmatic. i am trying to use nonjudgmental words here. instinctive, intuitive. confident in his own knowledge of how the world works. mike talked about it, we adjust all presidents. we do. this is a much bigger jump than it has ever been within my memory, but i think our responsibility is to try to adapt, tell truth to power and do it in such a way that it gets inside the head. i had to adjust with president bush. president obama is different and i had to adjust. we have to
adjust to president trump. again -- so, your specific question was how the president affects that. the president makes it harder for the institutions to do these jobs. no president once unwelcome news. i think this president is more unwelcoming with regard to unwelcome news than any president in memory. which then causes us to delay going in the oval office with information he would otherwise get, because you know it is not going to work until you build up a stack of evidence that is almost inarguable. so, what happens is the
information you can give to a president in a time for the president to take responsive action is reduced. so i argue that the president's approach, the president's words about intelligence, the president's attitudes about intelligence, is destructive to the presidency, not just our tradecraft. >> let me press you on that a little bit. let's be a little more blunt. it is not just that there is a stack of documents and he doesn't like it. he watches fox and friends. there is such a delta between the sources that he trusts and the sources that are truthful. >> yeah. >> yeah? [ laughter ] >> i think my work here is done. let me tell you how i try to describe it. objective reality --
>> none of them work at msnbc. >> objective reality is not the definitive point for the president deciding what he does or says. it just isn't. >> what is the truth? >> that is the whole issue, isn't it. the president is a product, not a cause. the president is an expression of a drift towards a post truth world in american society, where as a society, we are far more willing to make decisions based on emotion or preference or tribe or loyalty or grievance, rather than data, fact or evidence. the brilliance of the president was that he recognized that during the campaign and appealed to that form of reasoning. >> is that brilliant or
cynical? >> it is tactically brilliant and a rejection of the ethos that has governed the western approach to decision-making since the 17th century. >> bring us back to 2018, please. leave the 17th century. let's be blunt. i think something else trump ushered in is an element of bluntness. i think the assessment is that trump doesn't like the truth, because the truth doesn't depict him in a particularly good light. his first fight was the intelligence community, but he has spent the most time attacking the fbi and the justice department. they are investigating his family, his staff and possibly him for obstructing justice. so, what you make of his rejection of evidence-based disciplines like science, intelligence, law enforcement and journalism?
>> i think it puts a tremendous premium on leadership in a few key places. you have the attorney general, regardless of political views, he stood up to the president on the sanctity of federal investigations. this sounds like a civics lesson, but as someone who served below the level of the other three gentlemen on this group, if you are in this circumstance, leadership means two things. number one, let me give an example, iran. if i am working for general hayden, the president is 1 million miles away. boss, what are we doing? i know the president might have different perspectives. you are focused on what your leadership tells you to do. i think the national security leadership right now is pretty strong and people in this room and elsewhere ought to be watching when they change, because there is a lot of pressure on them to bring sanity to those departments.
whether it is obama or bush or clinton or bush, maybe wouldn't have that kind of pressure. the second thing i would say is people like me in these jobs are looking at the boss. saying, i have trust in you, for whatever the president decides to say on twitter, to walk in the room and say there is a stack of evidence on whether north korea is doing anything on nukes and strategic missiles. here is what the evidence says. if you want to fire me, fine. so, the pressure on cabinet officials and people like cia director to manage the workforce and to say i will present truth to the boss, i think is a real premium. >> do we want to do a couple questions? >> no. [ laughter ] >> no? okay. let me take one from the overflow room. hi, overflow room. all right. okay, admiral rogers, you noted
that 2016 was not the first time russians tried to impact american elections. when did that happen before and what did we do? >> we have seen the russians, jim and mike, feel free to chime in, we have seen the russians engage in this kind of behavior, in terms of undermining the institutions of our nation. the thing that was different in 2016 to me was it combined technology with some traditional tradecraft to really ratcheted up. it had a breath of impact that i just don't think we had seen before at such a massive level. >> if we were to do what the russians did, i would be the last ones on stage to say we have never done that. as a practitioner, covert influence never creates a fracture.
it succeeds when it identifies existing fractures and exploits them. so the additional factor, in addition to technology, is the fact that we are a far more inviting or weaker target in 2016 then we were in 84, 88, 92, 96. >> we have workers going back to at least the 60s, where the russians attempted to interfere . but the big difference, is technology. specifically, the massive and aggressive use of social media. >> let me do one more from the overflow room and then i will get to you. at the microphone. let me take this to you, what advice do you have for current intelligence officials who feel hopeless knowing their work will be disregarded by their ultimate customer, the president? >> i don't understand, why would it be disregarded? if you look at the issues we face today, what is going on with unrest in latin america,
whether iran is or is not complying with the nuclear agreement, whether it is the construction of nuclear and ballistic missile programs in north korea, why would you sit back and say my work is not valuable as a customer? it goes back to what i said before about leadership. i don't care what the president says, whether it is bush, obama, or trump. i want to know exactly what our penetration is and whether we can certify that they are not building a nuclear weapon and ballistic missiles that will threaten europe and north america. yes or no. >> let me expand the question. he or she is in the overflow room, so he or she is safe. i will do what you guys taught me and protect my sources and methods. but he is worried that young people will be discouraged from this profession, because the president, by getting on twitter and attacking the intelligence committee, may be
discouraging. a young person doesn't understand. >> i would agree with that. >> and i did not write this question, by the way. >> i think that is a fair perspective. you cannot have the president calling intelligence professors -- i did recruit at college campuses. you go on a campus and say you're going to take a 40% pay cut -- >> this is 1999. >> [ laughter ] >> my point is, i do think, over the course of time, you cannot have the leadership of the executive branch saying, don't trust the executive branch. i would agree with that, but i would argue that that corrosion will take years.
if we have a second president who starts to do that, my level of concern will jump dramatically. this affects how the american culture thinks about institutions of government. >> it seems important. anyone else want to jump in on this? >> i would tell the intelligence professional that the criteria should not be that the customer always agrees with us. i have had plenty of times as a military intelligence professional where commanders i worked with said, i don't see it that way. you might convince me. i always tried to tell the team i was part of, you have to be prepared to live in a world where some of our customers have different views. >> it is about remembering basics sometimes. the oath of office that everyone takes, i solemnly swear i support and defend the constitution of the united states of america against all
enemies, foreign and domestic. i think that thought, which is part of our history, is important to remember. i have been to a lot of colleges and universities. there is still a lot of interest in national security today. i am almost sure, that if you look at the statistics on applications, they probably haven't gone down very much. >> this is in the overflow room. >> we can't stand this over multiple administrations. the distinction here, i have written about this, that we have had presidents who disagree with us and argue about the facts.
we have never had a president for who the facts are not the departure point. i don't mean that to be judgmental, just to be descriptive. that isn't a fairly accurate description. that made it very hard. it doesn't change the oath, doesn't change the responsibility. sometimes, the teeth don't -- >> i think we are going to have to end it there. we could go all night and you all would probably love it if we went all night, but thank you all for being a wonderful audience. we didn't get to as many questions and answers as we would have hoped.
there is a reception following. you will get opportunities to chat. some will have to lunar -- will have to leave sooner than others. what i would ask is if everyone could stay in their seats a moment or two longer so we could give the guests on the stage and the distinguished folks in the front row to get out of the room and maybe get a drink before you corner them. thank you. [ applause ] >> washington post reporter bob
woodward is a washington charitable guest on monday talking about his new book. 8:30 a.m. eastern, former independent counsel ken starr joins us to discuss his book. c-span'st week on washington journal. watch theorning, senate judiciary committee debate and vote on the nomination of judge brett kavanaugh to the supreme court. >> if this man is successfully nominated, he could become the deciding vote on major legal issues that americans care deeply about. >> i now moved to report from the committee the nomination of brett kavanaugh to the associate justice of the supreme court.
>> follow the process live thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org, or listen with the c-span radio app. >> the bipartisan policy center honored former governor tom kane and former congressman lee hamilton for their work as cochairs of the 9/11 commission. director of national intelligence dan kuntz spoke about his experience on september 11, 2001, and how his position was created as a result of recommendations from the commission. mr. hamilton was unable to attend the event, but delivered remarks in a prerecorded video message. this is one hour and 10 minutes. minute. [applause] >> good evening,