tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC June 7, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PDT
trump tweeting about chris ray this morning and chris christie's bridge gate lawyer. all of this by the way only the warmup to tomorrow, what some are calling the most anticipated congressional testimony since watergate. buckle up. i want to get to casey hunt on capitol hill. today's hearing just got a lot more interesting overnight, huh? >> reporter: they did. that's for sure. this is a hearing about the reauthorization of the program that in part codified the warrant list wiretapping. hang on one second. i'm going to talk to a senator about to go into the hearing. what's your response to the reporting of dan coats own what he may have had discussions with the president about comey's involvement in this investigation? >> i think that would be highly inappropriate. he said in front of the senate arms service committee that he didn't want to answer those question but he would for the oversight committee. i hope he answers those questions those. >> reporter: the spokesman for
coats said he did not want to discuss any of his plooift discussions with the president. if he doesn't discuss and reveal the details, would you be okay with that? >> no. that would be wholly inadequate. >> reporter: why is that? >> we need to understand what the president d here and whether he tried to intervene in an investigation. >> reporter: senator, do you feel like your republican colleagues are questioning or prepared to question the witnesses today and tomorrow, jim comey in good faith? do you think that they have been working with the administration to make this an easier process for the president? >> i don't want to speak for my republican colleagues. but given everything that we have learned about how this story seems to get deeper and deeper. i think they should be concerned and should be engaged in a good faith way. >> reporter: thank you very much. really appreciate it. hallie, that of course a brief discussion with one of the senators here today. so again, the key question here, and this is what wu were alluding to initially is that this hearing was to be kind of a
routine hearing. but of course news breaking overnight that dan coats, the dni was privately pulled aside by cia director with the president that he told associates about that and there was potentially pressure to ask jim comey to do something different than what he was doing with this investigation. now of course coats putting out the statement overnight saying he never felt pressured. but i think that is going to be the main subject here today. we're going to hear from rod koezenstein, the first time we heard from him in public since the firing of james comey that he was involved in writing that memo, that of course the president used to discuss this. a l a lot going on on the hill today. the other quick news nugget i will throw your way, we spoke to senator rubio, i asked him whether or not he and the president discussed russia over dinner. you'll remember he was at the white house with tom cotton as well as other lawmakers.
rubio said no, no. russia was not discussed. he was asked then should you have gone to dinne at all. he said well, there was good food. there you go. >> casey hunt, i see you eyeballing the hallway. i'll let you get back to it. on the other side of your screen you're seeing inside that room, members of the senate intel committee getting ready to question the senior officials inside the administration with plenty to talk about. i want to bring in kristen welker here at the white house, msnbc chief legal correspondent ari mel vor, thomas dupree and onset, carol lee. josh doscy is standing by offset as well. kristen, the president has on obviously named a new fbi director this morning. we're going to ari to learn about who he is. was this planned? was this a surprise? do we know yet? >> we don't.
white house officials don't want to get ahead of the president on that. they want him to talk about how he made this final decision. we know he was someone that he was seriously considering. this is somebody he met with -- i spoke with someone who said the president wanted somebody who could lead, restore integrity at the fbi. but importantly someone who would get bipartisan support. this is a law enforcement professional. he was appointed by former george w. bush to serve in his administration. now he's in private practice but he's not seen as being political, unlike another name floated, former senator joe lieberman. i was on capitol hill when his name was being talked about. you had a lot of senators and lawmakers saying he's too political. too much of a lightning rod. we need someone in law enforcement. >> pick up from here. kristen is talking about the white house wanting somebody who th president could restore
integrity to the fbi. is chris ray the one to do that? >> i don't know if i can answer that. we'll have to see how the confirmation plays out. there's a lot of talk about nothing matters in the trump era because we have an unusual president who will do what he wants. things do matter. the reaction of law enforcement and other nonpartisan professionals matter because a lot of the terms on the short list were ridiculous. the idea of handing the reigns of the fbi over to a career politician of either party at this point in time struck a lot of people on the wrong note. chris ray is someone who has ran the criminal division at the doj. someone who was unanimously confirmed by voice vote by the senate at at least at one point in time there was a lot of support for him as a nonpartisan professional figure and he comes out of clerk in the fourth circuit, a relatively conservative circuit but a respectful way to start your
league career. coming out of yale law. at his teen your at doj where he handled corporate fraud, enron and other issues. this is a strong positive pick. i can't speak beyond the paper because we have to go through a confirmation process. >> and we're just getting new information in that senator diane feinstein, the top democrat on the committee was not given a heads up of the appointment of chris ray to lead the fbi. does that strike you as unusual? >> it's not the best way to build support. that is a white house that wants to do things differently. but some of the things that they do differently just seems counter productive for the trump agenda. in other words, you went out of your way to find someone, i listed some of the credentia. woul't you want to involve the bipartisan leadership? i'm reminded of when, according
to chuck schumer he got the phone call about the firing of jim comey and he tried to explain to the president why it was a bad idea. and in schumer's account he said the president didn't seem to understand how big a firestorm it was about to uncork. >> and on the other side of the screen we're taking a look at what is happening inside that hearing room. it's set to start any minute now. we expect to see the top republican and democrat give their opening statements, statements from the witnesses here who you see getting seated. there's rod rosen stestein, pet williams is watching all of this along with us and reporting this mark on the new fbi pick. i want to get your thoughts on how this might play out amongst the rank and file in the fbi and what you are looking for today from these folks getting seat as we speak. >> in terms of the raik and file, they're relieved that this is somebody with law enforcement experience, knowing the fbi and is not a political figure. on the other hand it's been 12 years since chris ray worked at
the justice department and was close hely associated with the fbi. it's a different institution today than when he was running the criminal division at the justice department. its focus has shifted a lot more in the national security direction and away from, although that's still what they do, away from their traditional bread and butter job of fighting organized crime and doing what you might call more conventional criminal cases. so i think that's something that he'll have to persuade the senate that he is ready to do. and the second thing is he'll have to persuade them that he can be politically independent of the president who nominated him. >> and we are watching the photographers take knee there right in front as we expect to see the opening statements now just beginning. let's listen in. >> director of national intelligence, dan coats. welcome back to your family here in the united states senate.
deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, admiral mike rogers and acting director of the federal bureau of investigation, andrew mccabe. i appreciate you coming today to discuss one of our most critical and publicly debated foreign intelligence tools. title 7 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act, fisa is set to expire on december 31st, 2017. it includes several foreign collection tools wib including one known as section 702. section 702 provides the capability to target foreigners who are located outside the united states but whose foreign communications happen to be routed to and acquired inside the united states. section 702 collection is exceptionally critical to protecting americans both at home and abroad. it is integral to our foreign
intelligence reporting on terrorists threats, leadership plans, intentions, counter proliferation, counter intelligence and many other issues that affect us. it is subject to multiple layers of oversight and reporting requirements from the executive, the judicial and the legislative branches. the foreign intelligence surveillance court must approve minimization procedures for each relevant ic agency before the agency can review collected information. at the end of the day, fisa provides our government with the foreign intelligence that our nation needs to protect americans at home and abroad and in many cases our allies. i understand there is an ongoing debate pinning privacy against national security and there are argumentments within the debate that have merit.
as we all too painfully know, the intelligence community's valuable fisa collection was thrust into the public spotlight following the illegal and unauthorized disclosures by f m edward snowden. as a result the committee redoubled its efforts to oversee fisa collections which was already subject to historical robust oversight. it's fair to say that some entities overreacted following snowden's exposures and now congress must justify what the courts have repeatedly upheld as a constitutional and lawful authorities. and i also think that it's fair to say that nothing reporting this lawful status has changed since director clapper and attorney general holder wrote to congress in february 2012 to urge us to pass a straight reauthorization of fisa and
since the obama administration followed suit in september 2012. what has changed, however, is the intensity, scale and scope of the threats that face our nation. this is not the time to needlessly roll back and ha handicap our capabilities. a lot of people will use this hearing as an opportunity to talk about the committes russian investigation. i would like to remind everyone at702 is one of our most effective tools against terrorism and foreign intelligence targets. ahope my colleagues and those closely watching the hearing realize at the end of the day our constitutional obligation is to keep america and our citizens safe. the intelligence community needs 702 collection to successfully carry out its commission. and it's this committee's obligation to make sure that the ic has the authorities and the tools it needs to keep us safe
at home and abroad. gentlemen, i look forward to your testimony and continued efforts to maintain the integrity of this vital collection tool. i now turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for hosting this hearing on the very important 702 program. and ways that we might ensure its effectiveness. i'll get to that in a moment. however, given the panel of witnesses here, and given the recent news about ongoing investigations into russian interference in our 2016 elections, i'm going to have to take at least part of my time to pose some questions during my question time. each of you here today, we all know, have taken oath to defend the constitution. as leaders of the intelligence community you'll committed to act and provide advice and counsel in a way that's unbiased, impartial and devoid
of any political consideration. this is the says sense of what makes our intelligence community and all of the men and women who work for you so impressive. you tell it straight, no matter which political party is in charge. and that's why it's so jarring to hear recent reports of white house officials, perhaps even the president himself, attempting to interfere and enlist our intelligence community leaders in any attempt to undermine the ongoing fbi investigation. obviously tomorrow there's another big hearing. we'll be hearing from former fbi director comey. i imagine he'll have something to say about the circumstances surrounding his dismissal. we have now heard the president himself say that he was thinking about to be russia investigation when he fired director comey, the very individual who was
overseeing that same investigation. today we'll have an opportunity to ask deputy attorney general rosenstein about his role in the comey firings as well. additionally, we'll seen reports, some as recently as yesterday, that the president asked at least two of the leaders of our nation's intelligence agencies to publicly downplay the russia investigation. the president is alleged to have also personally asked director coats and ci director pompeo to intervene directly with then director comey to pull back on his investigation. i'll be asking, as i've told him, dni director coats and admiral rogers about those reports today. because if any of this is true, it would be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence
professionals. an act, if true, that could erode the public's trust in our intelligence institutions. the ic, as i've grown to know over the last 7 and a half years i've been on this committee prides itself appropriately on its fierce independence. any attempt by the white house or even the president himself to exploit this community as a tool for political purposes is deeply, deeply troubling. i respect all of your service to the nation. i understand thatnswering som of the qio that the panel will pose today may be difficult or uncomfortable given your positions in the administration. but this issue is of such great importance, the stakes are so high, i hope you will also consider all of our obligation
to the american people to make sure that they get the answers they deserve to so many questions that are being asked. now let me return to the subject of our hearing. mr. chairman, i agree that the reauthorization of section 702 is terribly important. as the attacks in london, paris, manchester, mel bobourne and th list unfonately goes on and on. terrorists continue to launch attacks that get civilians. 702 under court order collecting intelligence about this potential terrorist plots. it authorizes law enforcement to collect intelligence on non-us persons outside the united states where there is reasonable suspicion that they seek to do us harm. i've been a supporter of reauthorizing section 702 to
protect americans from terrorists attacks and i'm eager to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that we reauthorize it before the end of this year. a reauthorization of section 702 should ensure also that there is robust oversight and restriction to protect the privacy and civil liberties of americans. those protections remain in place. and if there a areas where those proctions can be strengthened, we ought to look at those as well. thank yub, mr. chairman. i look forward to our hearing. >> thank you, vice chairman. let me say for all members, votes are no longer scheduled for 10:30 if you've not gotten that word. votes have been moved to 1:45. we'll reconvene at 2:00 for a closed door session on section 702. i intend to start that hearing promptly at 2:00 today. member wills be recognized by
seniority for questions up to five minutes. with that, gentlemen, thank you for being here today. director coats you are recognized to give testimony on behalf of all four of you. the floor is yours. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman burr, chairman warner, members of the committee. we are pleased to be here today at your request to talk about an important and perhaps the most important piece of legislation that affects the intelligence community. i'm here with my colleagues. i would like to take the opportunity to explain in some detail section 702, given this as a public hearing and hopefully the public will be watching our efforts to provide transparency in terms of how we protect the privacy and civil liberties of our american citizens needs to be explained.
the policem the program needs to be understood. and i appreciate your patience as i talk through, in my opening statement, the value of 702 to our intelligence community and toeeping americans safe. intelligence collection under section 702 fisa amendments has produced and continues to produce significant intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international terrorism, against cyberthreats, weapons proliferators and other threats. at the same time, section 702 provides strong protections for the privacy and civil liberties of our citizens. today the horrific attacks that recently have occurred in europe are still at the top of my mind. i was just in europe days before the first attack in manchester, followed by other attacks that have subsequently taken place. i was in discussion with my
british colleagues through this as as well as colleagues in other european nations and my sympathies go out to the victims and families of those that have received these heinous attacks. and to the incredible resilience that these communities affected by this violence have shown. having just returned from europe less than three weeks ago, i'm reminded of why section 702 is so important to our mission. of not only protecting american lives but the lives of our friends and allies around the world. and although the many successes enabled by 702 are highly classified, the purpose of the authority is to give the united states intelligence community the upper hand in trying to avert these types of attacks before they transpire. which is why permanent reauthorization of the fisa
amendments act without further amendmt the ielligence community's top legislative priority. and based on the long history of oversight and transparency of this authority, i would urge the congress to enact this legislation at the earliest possible date to give our intelligence professionals the consistency they need to maintain our capability. let me begin today by giving an example of the impact of section 702 of fisa. it's been cited before but i think it is worth mentioning again. nsa fisa collection against an e-mail address used by an al qaeda courier in pakistan revealed communications with an unknown individual located within the united states. the u.s.-based person was urgently seeking advice on how to make explosives. nsa passed this information on
to the fbi which in turn was able to quickly identify the individual. as you know, he and his associates had imminent plans to detonate explosives on manhattan's subway lines. after he and his coconspirators were arrested, the report stated, without the initial tip-off about zazi and his plans which came about monitoring an overseas foreigner under section 702, the subway bombing plot might have succeeded. this is just one example out of many of the impacts this authority has had own the ic's ability to thwart imminent threats and plots against the united states citizens and our friends and allies overseas. since it was enacted nearly ten
years ago, fisa -- the fisa act has been sukt to rigorous and constant oversight by all three branches of government. indeed we regularly report to the intelligence and judiciary committees of both the house and the senate how we have implemented the statute. the operational value it is afforded and the extensive measures we take to ensure that the government's use of these authorities complies with the constitution and the laws of the united states. further, over the past few years we have engaged in an unprecedented amount of public transparency on the use of these authorities. in the interest of transparency and because this is a public hearing, allow me to provide an overview of the framework for section 702 and the reasons why the congress amended fisa in 2008. i will then briefly address why
702 needs to be reauthorized and finally i will dcu overgh and compliance and how we are ensuring and continue to ensure the rights of u.s. citizens, rights that need to be protected. at the outset i want to sfresz three things as a backdrop to everything else that my colleagues and i are presenting today. first, as i mentioned at the outset, collection under 702 has produced and continues to produce intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international terrorism and other threats. secondly, there are important legal littleations found within section 702 of fisa. and let me note four of these legal limitations. first the authorities granted under section 702 may only be used to target foreign persons located abroad for foreign intelligence purposes. secondly, they may not be used
to target u.s. persons anywhere in the world. third, they may not be used to target anyone located inside the united states regard lless of their nationality. and fourth they not be used to target a foreign person when the intent is to acquire the communications of a u.s. person with whom a foreign person is communicating. this is generally referred to as the prohibition against reverse targeting. the third item i would like to stress is that we are committed to ensuring that the intelligence community's use of 702 is consistent with the law and the protection of the privacy and civil liberties of american. and to that end in the nearly 10 years since congress enacted the faa, there have been no instances of intentional violations of section 702. i would like to repeat that.
in the nearly ten years since congress enacted the amendments to the freedom act, the act that established fisa, there have been no instances of intentional violations of section 702. with those points as a backdrop, now let me turn to a discussion of why it became necessary for congress to enact section 702. i do this so that the american public can hopefully better understand the basis for this important law. the foreign intelligence and surveillance act was first passed in 1978, creating a way for the federal government to obtain court orders for electronic surveillance of suspected spies, terrorists and foreign diplomats located inside the united states. when originally enacting fisa, congress decided that collection against targeted located abroad would generally be outside of their regime.
fisa's regime. that decision reflected the fact that people in the united states are protected by the fourth amendment, while foreigners located abroad are not. congress accomplished this in large part by defining electronic surveillance based on the technology of the time. in the 1970s overseas communication were predominantly carried by satellite. fisa as passed in 1978 did not require a court order for the collection of these overseas satellite communications. so, for example, if in 80asa tercepted a satellite communication of a foreign terrorist abroad, no court order was required. however, by 2008 technology had changed considerably. first u.s.-based e-mail services were being used by people all over the world. second, the overseas communications that in 1978 were
typically carried by satellite were now being carried by fiber optic cables, often running through the united states. so to continue the same example, if in 2008 a foreign terrorist was communicating by using a u.s.-based e-mail service, a traditional fisa court order was required to compel a u.s.-based company to help with that collection. under traditional fisa, a court order can only be obtained on an individual basis. by demonstrating to a federal judge that there is probable cause to believe that the target of the proposed surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. this had become a difficult and extremely resource intensive process. therefore due to the changes in technology, the same resource intensive legal process was being used to conduct surveillance on terrorists located abroad, who are not
protected by the fourth amendment, as was being used to conduct surveillance on u.s. persons inside the united states who are protected by the fourth amendment. by enacting 702 in 2008 and renewing it in 2012, both times was significant bipartisan support, congress corrected this anomaly resting the bance of protections established by the original fisa statute. although i will not go into great detail regarding the legal framework of fisa 702, i will simply note a few key items. first, the statute requires annual certifications by the attorney general and by the director of national intelligence regarding the categories of foreign intelligence that the intelligence community will acquire under this authority. second, the statute requires targeting procedures that set forth the rules by which the
intelligence community ensures that only foreign persons abroad are targeted for collection. thirdly, the statute requires minimization procedures protecting u.s. persons information that may be incidentally acquired while targeting foreign persons. and finally, each year the fisa court reviews this entire package of material to make sure that the government's program is consistent with both the statute and with the fourth amendment of the constitution. we have publicly released slightly redacted versions of all of these documents, including the most recent fisk opinion to ensure the public has a good understanding of how we use this authority. the government section 702 program as we have said, is subject to rigorous and frequent oversight by all three branches of government. the first line of oversight and compliance is within the
agencies themselves whose offices of general council, privacy and civil liberties offices and inspectors general all have a role in fisa 702 program ovsight. the majority of the understand accidents of noncompliance reported to my office and the department of justice are self reported by the participating agencies. in addition the office of the dni and department of justice conduct regular audits focusing on compliance with the targeting procedures as well as on querying of collected data and on dissemination of information under the minimization procedures. also, we have regular engagements with an expensive reporting to congress about the fisa 702 program. for example, the judiciary and intelligence committees receive relative orders of the fisa
court, descriptions and analysis of every compliance understand accident and certain statistical information such as the number of intelligence reports in which a known u.s. person was identified. and finally, of course, the fisa court regularly checks our work, both through the annual recertification process and through regular interactions on particular incidents of noncompliance. members of the fisa court who are all appointed by the chief justice of the supreme court represent the best of the best of our judicial community. they have vast judicial experience and are committed to the constitutional responsibilities of protecting the privacy of u.s. persons. we are particularly proud of our oversight and compliance track record. the audits of the program conducted by the odni and doj have shown that unintended error rates arextremely low,
substantially, substantially less than 1%. further, and i want to emphasize this, we have never, not once, found an intentional violation of this program. there have been unintended mistakes, but i would note that any system with zero compliance incidence is a broken compliant system because human beings make mistakes. the difference here is that none of these mistakes has been intentional. when do we -- when we do find unintentional errors and compliance understand accident bs, we ensure that they're reported and corrected. this is an extraordinary record of success for the diligent men and women of the intelligence community who are committed to ensuring that their neighbors' privacy is protected in the course of their national security work. and with that i'd like to turn to the most recent compliant incident which resulted in a
significant change in how if national security agency conducts a portion of its fisa 702 collection. a recent example of the oversight process at work, as a recent example, nasa identified a compliance incident involving queries of u.s. persons identifiers into section 702 upstream data. upstream data refer to when nasa receives communications directly from the internet with the assistance of companies that maintain these backbone networks. the fisk fisa court was promptly notified and doj and odni worked with nsa to understand the scope and causes of the problem,s well as to identify potential solutions to prevent the problem from reoccurring. the details of the incident are publicly available and admiral rogers can go into more detail during the question and answer session if you would like.
but just allow me briefly to state what happened. nasa identified and researched a compliance issue. nasa -- excuse me, nsa reported that issue to doj, odni and ultimately the fisa court. the court delayed its consideration of the 2016 certifications on that basis until the government was able to correct the issue. nsa determined that a possible solution to the compliance problem was to stop conducting one -- >> we have been listening here to the director of national intelligence, dan coats talking all about fisa because that is what this hearing is ostensibly all about, the reauthorization of the foreign intelligence surveillance act. that said, there is most certainly a subplot to all of this, given what broke overnight, the news that, according to the "washington post" dan coats was asked by the
president along with mike pompeo to get involved in some way in the fbi's russia investigation. you heard senator mark warner along with senator burr hint very strongly that he is going to be asking dan coats about that when the questioning begins. that is likely to be the first thing we hear out of mark warner's mouth. although the republicans may be wanting to keep the focus on fisa. i want to bring in the panelists with me, also centering on the conversations that the president had with his top intel officials. we've got carol lee from "the wall street journal" and joining us also is josh doscy from politico. guys, i want to put this in context. you've got dan coats along sides three crucial intelligence folks. and carol i want to get your take on what we've been listenilisten ing so far. >> obviously the hearing is about the 702 program. but you know, we've heard a lot
about that, the opening statementing. we saw a little bit of a difference between the focus of the republican chairman of this committee and senator mark warner, the democrat. he obviously talked about the russia investigation and some questions he will have for director coats about whether or not he pressured -- or he was pressured by the president to, you know, be influenced in terms of the investigation into the president's former national security adviser, mike flynn. we're warming up here before we get to the main event. everybody is waiting to see and hear what coats has to say when he is asked this very important question, which is, was he pressured. his spokesman said he didn't feel pressured but that doesn't mean the president didn't put pressure on him. >> that's the thing that we're all listening to likely in the next ten minutes or so. as i take a look, it appears dan coats is wrapping up his opening statement. he's giving a statement on behalf of the others who are with him there, including the
deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. you heard mark warner say if the allegations are true, if the president did ask dan coats to do anything related to the russian investigation, it would be appalling and improper. a t of focus on what dan coats will say and then of course what james comey is going to say tomorrow. as we take a look at senator pamela harris there from california. a lot of this has to do with what kinds of conversations the president had with these top intelligence officials behind closed car, given a bombshell overnight, james comey telling jeff sessions he felt uncomfortable being left alone with the president of the united states. >> we expect jim comey to outline in detail all of his conversations with the president. i think we're going to see less about the ongoing investigation. bob mueller, the special counsel
is in charge of that and mr. comey doesn't want to get in the way. we're going to see a pretty significant explanation of every conversation he had. friends of mr. comey said he kept pretty detailed memos, including where he was sitting, where he was, what the president said. and i think tomorrow you're going to see a lot of senators who have been riveted by these, you know, reports for several weeks, want to hear it from the man himself. >> let me catch you up on some headlines that have come out in the last couple of minutes as we've listened in to dan coats related to other news today. the president in a tweet announcing his pick to now lead the fbi, christopher ray. we talked about it at the beginning of this program as we were waiting for the hearing to begin. since then we've discovered that the head of the senate judiciary committee chuck grassley learned about this from the tweet, not in a notification process as might be typical in other administrations and in the past. our own casey hunt ask the
senator if he felt that was disrespectful. and senator grassley said he found out from the tweet. we know that the ranking democrat oat commte diane feinstein also was not notified by the white house prior to the naming of chris ray as fbi director. same goes for mark warner on the intel committee. maybe he wouldn't normally be notified since it's judiciary that has oversight over the committee. but given how closely they work with the fbi, that's a question that has been answered. i want to bring in clint watts who used to work with the fbi and i want your reaction of what we're learning here, the new fbi pick and some of the political implications as well. >> i think it's curious the timing. obviously that was to distract from the hearings that were coming up today. i also find it very interesting that ray is part of a group that has worked together, mueller, comey, rosenstein, they've all worked together during the same time period, 2000 to 2005 time
period and they're known to each other. what you're seeing in terms of government the way it's shaking out in this trump era, we've got two groups of people that are going to lead this country in terms of law enforcement, crime and the military. mcmaster, and kelly. now in terms of law enforcement and the judiciary, we've got four individuals that all worked together and that's going to be very different from what trump really proposed. he proposed that he was going to come in and shake things up and bring in outsiders. these are old hands that have worked together and really know how to do this governance and the rule of law and that can backfire on him if he continues to do these outrageous things, like trying to pressure the fbi director. >> as somebody who used to be in the agency, what would your reaction be if you weretill there to the naming of chris ray as your next boss? >> i don't think it woulde that surprising. if you look back, fbi directors are not really known to the
public. i kind of laughed a couple of weeks ago when i heard a lot of the names thrown out. those were celebrity names. it's a very trump approach. if it hasn't been on television, then you can't nominate somebody. the right choice is somebody that's below the surface that's spent time as a prosecutor, spent time at doj, spent time with law enforcement. the one thing that is different about ray is he's been a defense attorney as much or more as he's been a prosecutor. it's slightly unusual but not necessarily a bad thing. it's just a different way to pick it. i think if anything we're probably looking at someone that they thought could pass through confirmation and be seen as nonbiassed. >> and of course chris ray, as you talk about his time doing law was chris christie's attorney during bridge gate. marine one is landing. the president is getting ready to hit the road. he's going to ohio, cincinnati specifically to talk
infrastructure. we understand he may be talking health care too. his administration, his white house has been looking to get the republican agenda on track. look at what h happening on capitol hill. the focus for this city and for this folks akrousz the country has been what is happening with the russian investigation and what the president said to some of his top officials here. so the president getting ready to leave the white house. we're sticking with this hearing because we're sort of waiting to see what specifically mark warner, some of the other democrats will ask dan coats given the reporting from overnight. we have to be clear here. a spokesperson for mr. coats has said he never felt pressured essentially by the president to do anything as far as intervening or interfering with the fbi russia investigation. we're going to hear it from the dni himself from his own mouth in a few minutes here. what stands out from what we've heard this morning. >> it is a little dry, that's on purpose. this is a surveillance hearing
about something that all sides seem to agree is important, the mine mie zags procedures that go towards international surveillance and what paps when americans' personal information is collected. this is not what everyone in washington is focused on. i think what you heard from senator warner, who hasn't gotten his questioning time yet but we're going to be watching and bring it to you when it gets good is turning away from the legislative discussion to the other side of oversight. these officials are sworn in under oath and there are things they can be asked about russia and the conversations at the white house. but there have been some clear lines drawn that doesn't sound like director coats doesn't plan to reveal that much more than what he's already said. >> hang out for a minute. as we look at senator richard burr, he's beginning his questioning period talking for now about fisa. we're monitoring that. we're going to bring it to you as soon as news starts to develop from that.
something you heard mark warner talk about earlier this morning, the new fbi director essentially. the fact it appears as though congressional leaders hadn't been notified about this. there are questions being made explicit by members of congress of the timing of this, why the president would choose to make the announcement via tweet for now. he's talking about wanting to restore integrity essentially, have somebody lead the fbi who would be able to be, in their view morapable than jim comey, of course, theormer director that he fired. from the political perspective, when you look at what's happening on the hill, tell me how you see that playing out? let me share a little bit here. john mccain was just speaking with our team and said hey, let's see how the hearing goes but it seems as though he could be a satisfactory pick. that seems to be the feeling we're getting from the folks on the hill. >> we're hearing from the
senators starting to speak out a real welcoming of this name. and of course clint was earlier discussing how absurd some of the other names were. you don't know whether those were names picked out of a hat because they were famous or prominent or whether that was some kind of negotiating tactic where you put out more ridiculous names than people are happy to see a mainstream name. a vetting for a ten-year position is going to go forward and take some time. you raise another point that our colleagues here in washington have been nailing down, just over the past few minutes, which is the unusual process. and this goes to something with the trump presidency, even when the position or the decision appears to be defensible or mainstream or potentially positive, somehow the process gets in the way and that seems to be related to a desire for surprise, drama or flare. because it is substantively important i think that people in both parties, if it's going to be bipartisan, what does that mean, collaboration and discussion. according to our reporting of
the colleagues here, the president has gone out of his way to make this a surprise. that begs the question why. the post has been vacant for some time. why was itortant to rush it out. and that raises the stage managinguestio of whether this was done to distract from the hearing that we're watching on the side of our screen and another hearing tomorrow. and if so, that's unfortunate because the fbi is too important to be drawn into day trading over the news cycle. >> we're watching now rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general answering questions from senator burr. i want to bring up casey hunt who has been running around the hill this morning, talking to members of congress about the many headlines coming to a head this morning, 24 hours ahead of the james comey hearing also on the hill. and ka casey, i want to talk through with you what you're hearing from members of congress related to this hearing and also the new fbi director.
>> reporter: sure, yeah. it's almost difficult to get through the entire list of things that we're dealing with up here today on capitol hill. the headline as far as the fbi director goes, and i think this speak to a broader theme that we've been talking quite a bit about is it does not seem that members of congress who would normally be informed about a new fib dire fbi director had any awareness this happened. chuck grassley, somebody who gives a lot of weight to manner, protocol, doing things the right way was not told in advance of this he walked down this hallway and said i learned about it from the eet li everybody else this morning. i asked him is that disrespe disrespectful? and he said the same thing, i found out in a tweet. did not look super pleased of that being the case. chuck schumer did not know, diane feinstein didn't know in advance. it's a little different than
what the president had been doing up here on capitol hill. there had been signs that he was learning the ropes of the protocols and how things are done up here to smooth the waters especially after they struggled to pass the health care bill. but this isolation of the president. i know peter alexander out of the white house had some reporting about the white house communications staff seeming to come out of their meeting somewhat unaware, or at least unprepared, for the president's tweet. again, that going on up here. we talked about this earlier, another thing noteworthy, i talked to senator marco rubio, who said russia did not come up at that dinner that the president had with tom cotton, senator, and marco rubio, as well as other lawmakers. cotton and rubio are going to be questioning jim comey tomorrow. hallie? >> kasie hunt on capitol hill. we'll be coming back to you through the hour as we keep an eye on this hearing happening now. senator richard burr in his questioning period. kasie hunt talked about the dinner last night, where members of congress came to the white
house. we're told that sanctions came up, albeit, briefly, but no discussion regarding the testimony tomorrow, according to senator rubio. you talk about what's happening inside the west wing right now. the president perhaps increasingly isoled. certainly frustrat. stewing, frankly, particularly over the relationship with attorney general jeff sessions. a long-time loyalist, someone with him since the beginning. nbc news learned from sources close to the administration that there is a huge level of frustration from the president and his attorney general. there's a sense that the president is monday morning quarterbacking some of the decisions that sessions has made, including one of the people right now, rod rosenstein, his hiring, as well as sessions's decision to recuse himself from the investigation. t tomorrow, and perhaps later today, when rod rosenstein answers questions, maybe from the democratic side, carol and
josh, we may get a better relationship between the attorney general, the president, the deputy attorney general would presumably be looped into that. i'm sure that's something a lot of folks are watching for. >> exactly. if you step back for a second and look at the relationship that the president has had with jeff sessions, they were extremely close during the campaign. jeff sessions was the first senator to endorse president trump's campaign. >> i'll interrupt you here. >> sure. >> senator mark warner is set to speak now. >> we all know now that in march, then-director comey testified about the existence of an ongoing fbi investigation into lks between the trump campaign and the russian government. there are reports out in the press that the president separately appealed you, admiral rogers, and to you, director coates, to downplay the russia
investigation. now we've got additional reports, and we want to give you a chance to confirm or deny these, that the president separately addressed you, directly coats, and asked you to, in effect, intervene with director comey. again, to downplay the fbi investigation. admiral rogers, you draw the short straw. i'll start with you. before we get to the substance of whether this call or request was made, you've had a very distinguished career, close to 40 years. in your experience, would it be in any way typical for a president to ask questions or bring up an ongoing fbi investigation, particularly if that investigation concerns associates and individuals that might be associated with the president's campaign or his activities?
>> today, i am not going to talk about theoreticals or -- >> can you -- >> can i could finish, please. >> sure. >> anything i've had with the president of the united states. i'll make the following comment. in the three plus years iave en t director of the national secury agency, to the best of my recollection, i have never been directed to do anything i believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. to the best of my recollection, during that same period of service, i do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so. >> but have -- in your course prior to the incident that we're going to discuss, was it in any regular course where a president would ask you to comment or intervene in any ongoing fbi investigation? not talking about this circumstance but any prior experience with that? >> i'm not going to talk about theoreticals today. >> let me ask you specifically. did the president, the reports that are out there, ask you in any way, shape or form, to back off or downplay the russia
investigation? >> i'm not going to discuss the specifics of conversation with the president of the united states, but i stand by the comment i just made to you, sir. >> do you feel that those conversations were classified? we know that there was an ongoing fbi investigation. >> yes, sir. >> from the press reports. >> yes, sir. >> i understand your answer. i'm disappointed with that answer, but i -- and i told you i was going to bring this up. >> sure. >> we have facts that there were other individuals that were aware of the call that was made to you. aware of the substance of that call. and there was a memo prepared because of concerns about that call. will you comment at all? >> i stand by the comments i made to you today, sir. >> so you will not confirm or deny the existence of a memo? >> i stand by the comments i made to you, sir. >> i think it will be essential, mr. chairman, that the other individual who served our country, as well, with great
distinio who is no longer a member of the administration, has a cha to relay his version of those facts. again, i understand -- >> yes, sir. >> -- your position, but i hope you'll also understand the enormous need for the american public to know. you've got the administration saying there's no there there. we have these reports and, yet, we can't get confirmation. i want to go to you, director coats. when you appeared, you said, and i quote, if called before the investigative committee, i certainly will provide them with what i know and what i don't know. i have great respect for you. you served on this committee. i remember, as well, when we confirmed you, and i was proud to support your confirmation. you said that you would cooperate with this committee in any aspects that we request of the russia investigation. we now have press reports, and you can lay them to rest if they're not true, but we have press reports of not once but
twice that the president of the united states asked you to either downplay the russia investigation or to directly intervene with director comey. can you set the record straight about what happened or didn't happen? >> well, senator, as i responded to a similar question during my confirmation and in a second hearing before the committee, i do not feel it is appropriate for me to, in the public session, in which confidential conversations between the president and myself, i don't believe it is appropriate for me to address that in a public session. >> gentlemen, i understand. >> i stated that before, and i -- >> i thought you also said if brought before the investigative committee, you would, quote, certainly provide them with what i know and what i don't know. we a be that investigative committee. >> itand by my previously statement, that we are in a puic sessi he. i do not feel that it is
appropriate for me to address confidential information. most of the information i've shared with the president, obviously, is directed toward intelligence matters during our briefings every morning at the white house, or most mornings, when both the president and i am in town. but for intelligence related matters or any other matters that have been discussed, it is my belief that it is inappropriate for me to share that with the public. >> gentlemen, i respect all of your service. and i understand and respect your commitment to the administration who are serving. we have to bring forward the other individual, whether the existence of the memo that may document some soft fact what t. what i ask as we go forward -- this is my final comment, mr.
chairman -- that we also have to weigh in here the public's absolute need to know. they're wondering what's going on. they're wondering what type of activities. we see this pattern that, without confirmation or denial, appears that the president, not once, not twice, but we will hear from director comey tomorrow, this pattern where the president seems to want to interfere or downplay or halt the ongoing investigation, not only the justice department is taking on but this committee is taking on. i hope as we move forward on this, you'll realize the importance that the american public deserves to get the answers to these questions. >> senator, i would like to respond to that, if i could. first of all, i'm always -- i told you, and committed to the committee, tt i would be available to testify before the committee. i don't think this is the appropriate venue to do this in, given that this is an open hearing and a lot of
confidential information relative to intelligence or other matters. i just don't feel it is appropriate for me to do that in this situation. secondly, when i was asked yesterday to respond to a piece that i was told was going to be written and printed in the "washington post" this morning, my response to that was, in my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the united states or anybody in his administration, i have never been pressed. i have felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way, with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation. >> all i'd say, director coats, is there was a chance here to lay to rest some of these press reports. if the president is asking you to intervene or downplay -- you may not have felt pressured but if