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Mr. Gowdy. We'll go back on the record. Director Comey, I'm going to summarize from a portion of what we refer to as the Comey memos. This one is from February of 2017. I don't know whether or not you have a copy of your memos or whet her or not you have recollection of what's in them.
Mr. Kelley. We don't have copies with us. If you want to give them to us, it might expedite things.
Mr. Gowdy. And, again, this is one from February of 2017. Mr. Comey. Which date in February? Mr. Gowdy. I want to say it's the 14th, but I could be wrong -- 14th.
Mr. Comey. Okay. Got it.
Mr. Gowdy. And at the top, it says, "I attended an Oval Office" -- you got that one?
Mr. Comey. I got it.
Mr. Gowdy. Fourth paragraph, and just tell me whether or not I'm fairly summarizing this. I'm not going to read it all, but: He -- and I assume "he" is the President, President Trump -- began by saying he wanted want to talk about Mike Flynn. That's in quotes. He said that, although Flynn hadn't done anything wrong in his call with the Russians, he had to let him go because he misled the Vice President, whom he described as a good guy. Now, was the "he" -- is the "he" modifying Vice President Pence or Mike Flynn, when you say whom he described as a, quote, good guy?
Mr. Comey. I took him to be meaning Mr. Flynn is a good guy.
Mr. Gowdy. Okay. He explained that he just couldn't have Flynn misleading the Vice President. In any event, he had other concerns about Flynn; he had a great guy coming in, so he had to let Flynn go. Have I fairly summarized that paragraph?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Gowdy. All right. Next page, second full paragraph, I think. Yeah, second full paragraph, it begins: He then. You got it?
Mr. Comey. Got it.
Mr. Gowdy. He then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying: Flynn's a good guy and has been through a lot. He misled the Vice President, but he didn't do anything wrong in the call. Said: I hope you can see your way clear of letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. I replied by saying I agree he is a good guy, but said no more. Have I fairly described that paragraph?
Mr. Comey. Yes. In fact, I think you read it.
Mr. Gowdy. Do the contents of t hat paragraph, are they sufficient to launch an obstruction of justice investigation? Mr. Comey. Potentially.
Mr. Gowdy. What part of it potentially could lead to the 100 initiation of an obstruction of justice investigation?
Mr. Comey. The President asking -- one interpretation of it is the President asking the FBI to drop a criminal investigation.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you act or fail to act in any way in the Flynn matter because of what the President said to you?
Mr. Comey. Act or fail to act? I didn't abide this direction. In fact, kept it to a fairly small group in FBI headquarters so it would not have any impact on the investigation.
Mr. Gowdy. But I'm asking you specifically --
Mr. Comey. I took acts -- the reason I'm hesitating is I took acts to make sure it had no impact on the investigation.
Mr. Gowdy. I'm with you, but it did not -- did his comments prevent you from following the leads that you thought should have been followed?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Did his comments prevent you from taking any act as the Director of the FBI that you thought were warranted by the other fact pattern?
Mr. Comey. No. This had -- I did not abide this. And it did not affect the investigation, so far as I'm aware, in any way. Mr. Gowdy. Did you initiate an obstruction of justice investigation based on what the President said?
Mr. Comey. I don't think so. I don't recall doing that, so I don't think so.
Mr. Gowdy. Would you recall initiating a criminal investigation into the President of the United States?
Mr. Comey. Yes, I'm sorry. I didn't personally, but I took it also to mean, did anyone else in the FBI open a file with an obstruction heading or something? Not to my knowledge is the answer.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you talk to Andy McCabe the day you were fired?
Mr. Comey. I don't think so. I don't think -- it's possible, but I don't think so.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you talk to Lisa Page the day you were fired?
Mr. Comey. That I'm sure of. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you talk to Peter Strzok the day you were fired?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you know whether or not an obstruction of justice investigation was launched the day you were fired?
Mr. Comey. I don't.
Mr. Gowdy. If Flynn had said, "Director Comey" -- I'm sorry. If President Trump had said, "Director Comey, General Flynn made a mistake, and he didn't have the intent to violate the law," would you have viewed that as obstruction?
Mr. Comey. I can't answer that hypothetical.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, we're going to have to get our way through it a little bit. Is someone saying, "Look, he just made a mistake" -- mistake is a defense to certain crimes, right? So that could be interpreted as didn't commit a criminal offense. Mr. Comey. The reason I don't feel comfortable going into hypotheticals is obstruction is a crime that turns on intent, and I can't speak in -- either in fact or in hypotheticals to intent here.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, what was the President's intent when -- in your opinion, when he said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go"?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for sure.
Mr. Gowdy. So it would be the failure of an essential element of an obstruction of justice case if the person who received that information did not view it as an attempt to impact his decisionmaking? Mr. Comey. I don't think that's right as a matter of law. I don't think the reaction of the object of the obstructive effort, their perception, is dispositive. Mr. Gowdy. Were you obstructed? Mr. Comey. Because I think I could have -- I could endeavor to obstruct something and you not realize what I'm doing. Mr. Gowdy. Were you obstructed? Mr. Comey. Well, I don't know -- there was no impact, so 103 far as I'm aware, on the investigation, from this conversation. Mr. Go wdy. If he had said, "Look, General Flynn doesn't have the intent to commit a crime," how would you have viewed that? Mr. Kelley. Do you understand the question? Mr. Comey. Yeah, I still would not offer an opinion as to what his intention was in doi ng that. I would find it very concerning, just as I found this very concerning, but I didn't then, and I don't now, have an opinion on the ultimate question about whether it was obstruction. Mr. Gowdy. Well, the reason I ask general -- Director Comey, is, there was another Chief Executive who referred to an ongoing criminal matter by saying she made a mistake, and she lacked criminal intent. Did you view that as potentially obstruction of justice? Mr. Comey. Talking about President Obama now? Mr. Gowdy. Yes. Mr. Comey. I didn't see it as -- through the lens of obstruction of justice. I saw it as threatening our ability to credibly complete the investigation. Mr. Gowdy. In what way? Mr. Comey. The President of the United States offering a view on a matter or a case that's under investigation, when that President is of the same party as the subject of the investigation and working for her election, would tend to cast doubt in 104 reasonable people's minds about whether the investigation had bee n conducted and completed fairly, competently, and independently. Mr. Gowdy. So, if it doesn't rise to the level of obstruction, how would you characterize the Chief Executive saying that the target of an investigation that was ongoing simply made a mis take and lacked the requisite criminal intent? Mr. Comey. It would concern me. It concerns me whenever the Chief Executive comments on pending criminal investigations, something we see a lot today, which is why it concerned me when President Obama did it. Mr. Gowdy. Well, it concerns me too, Director Comey. I'm also concerned that people treat similarly situated people the same. And did you make a memo after President Obama said she made a mistake and lacked the requisite criminal intent? Mr. Com ey. He said that on FOX News. Mr. Gowdy. Right. Mr. Comey. I did not make a memo about the FOX News broadcast. Mr. Gowdy. Did you have a meeting with your investigative team to make sure that they were not in any way impacted by what he said? Mr. Comey. No. Mr. Gowdy. Who is Christopher Steele? Well, before I go to that, let me ask you this. 105 At any -- who interviewed General Flynn, which FBI agents? Mr. Comey. My recollection is two agents, one of whom was Pete Strzok and the other of who m is a career line agent, not a supervisor. Mr. Gowdy. Did either of those agents, or both, ever tell you that they did not adduce an intent to deceive from their interview with General Flynn? Mr. Comey. No. Mr. Gowdy. Have you ever testified differently? Mr. Comey. No. Mr. Gowdy. Do you recall being asked that question in a HPSCI hearing? Mr. Comey. No. I recall -- I don't remember what question I was asked. I recall saying the agents observed no indicia of deception, physical manifesta tions, shiftiness, that sort of thing. Mr. Gowdy. Who would you have gotten that from if you were not present for the interview? Mr. Comey. From someone at the FBI, who either spoke to -- I don't think I spoke to the interviewing agents but got the r eport from the interviewing agents. Mr. Gowdy. All right. So you would have, what, read the 302 or had a conversation with someone who read the 302? Mr. Comey. I don't remember for sure. I think I may have done both, that is, read the 302 and then spoke to people who 106 had spoken to the investigators themselves. It's possible I spoke to the investigators directly. I just don't remember that. Mr. Gowdy. And, again, what was communicated on the issue of an intent to deceive? What's your recollecti on on what those agents relayed back? Mr. Comey. My recollection was he was -- the conclusion of the investigators was he was obviously lying, but they saw none of the normal common indicia of deception: that is, hesitancy to answer, shifting in seat, s weating, all the things that you might associate with someone who is conscious and manifesting that they are being -- they're telling falsehoods. There's no doubt he was lying, but that those indicators weren't there. Mr. Gowdy. When you say "lying," I g enerally think of an intent to deceive as opposed to someone just uttering a false statement. Mr. Comey. Sure. Mr. Gowdy. Is it possible to utter a false statement without it being lying? Mr. Comey. I can't answer -- that's a philosophical questio n I can't answer. Mr. Gowdy. No, I mean, if I said, "Hey, look, I hope you had a great day yesterday on Tuesday," that's demonstrably false. Mr. Comey. That's an expression of opinion. 107 Mr. Gowdy. No, it's a fact that yesterday was -- Mr. Comey. You hope I have a great day -- Mr. Gowdy. No, no, no, yesterday was not Tuesday. Mr. Comey. Oh, see, I didn't even know that. Yeah. Mr. Gowdy. So is it possible to make a false statement without having the intent to deceive? Mr. Comey. Yes. Mr. Gowdy. All right. Is making a false statement without the intent to deceive a crime? Mr. Comey. I don't know. I can't answer that without thinking better about it. Mr. Gowdy. So would it, therefore, be relevant, whether or -- I'll let you finish talking to your lawyer. .
and he gets at the steel issue i will endevor to post smalelr snippets from this point to avoid future mistakes in the future but may take a short break for a snack and go walk my dog for a bit, it does seem that hes trying to put dobut on the Muller investigation though with his recent questions and answers from Comey
Mr. Comey. Sorry, go ahead.
Mr. Gowdy. Would it, therefore, be relevant whether or not General Flynn had an intent to deceive?
Mr. Comey. Let me step away from the case. In investigating any false statement case , you want to understand, did the defendant, the subject, know they were making a false statement? Because you aren't prosecuted for accidents, slips of memory, things like that. So, in any false - statement case, it's important to understand, what's the proof that they knew what they were saying was false?
Mr. Gowdy. And, again -- because I'm afraid I may have interrupted you, which I didn't mean to do -- your agents, it was relayed to you that your agents' perspective on that interview with General Flynn was what? Because where I stopped you was, you said: He was lying. They knew he was lying, but he didn't have the indicia of lying.
Mr. Comey. Correct. All I was doing was answering your question, which I understood to be your question, about whether I had previously testified that he -- the agents did not believe he was lying. I was trying to clarify. I think that reporting that you've seen is the product of a garble. What I recall telling the House Intelligence Committee is that the agents ob served none of the common indicia of lying -- physical manifestations, changes in tone, changes in pace -- that would indicate the person I'm interviewing knows they're telling me stuff that ain't true. They didn't see that here. It was a natural conversation, answered fully their questions, didn't avoid. That notwithstanding, they concluded he was lying
Mr. Gowdy. Would that be considered Brady material and hypothetically a subsequent prosecution for false statement?
Mr. Comey. That's too hypothetical for me. I mean, interesting law school question: Is the absence of incriminating evidence exculpatory evidence? But I can't answer that question.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, you used to be the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Would you have turned over that information?
Mr. Comey. I can't answer that in the abstract. I just can't. It depends upon too many unique circumstances to a case. Mr. Gowdy. Who is Christopher Steele?
Mr. Comey. My understanding is that Christopher Steele is a former intelligence officer of an allied nation who prepared a series of reports in the summer of 2016 that have become known as the Steele dossier.
Mr. Gowdy. How long did he have a relationship with the FBI?
Mr. Comey. I don't know.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you ever meet him?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Never met him, never talked to him?
Mr. Comey. Sorry. Okay. No, I never met him, never spoken to the man.
Mr. Gowdy. When did you learn he was working for Fusion GPS?
Mr. Comey . I don't know that I ever knew that -- certainly while I worked at the FBI. I think I've read that in open source, but I didn't know that while I was FBI.
Mr. Gowdy. Who did you think he was working for?
Mr. Comey. I thought he was retained as part of a Republican - financed effort -- retained by Republicans adverse to Mr. Trump during the primary season, and then his work was underwritten after that by Democrats opposed to Mr. Trump during the general election season.
Mr. Gowdy. When did you l earn that his work went from being financed by what you described as Republicans to what you described as Democrats?
Mr. Comey. Sometime in September, October, is my best guess. I don't remember for sure, when I was briefed on the materials that had be en provided to the FBI.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, ordinarily, it wouldn't be important whether it was December or October, but --
Mr. Comey. September or October.
Mr. Gowdy. Right. Ordinarily, it wouldn't be important. Just so happens, in this fact pattern, it might be.
Pardon me? Mr. Kelley. I thought you said "December or October."
Mr. Gowdy. Oh, December -- or September?
Mr. Kelley. You said September first; he said --
Mr. Gowdy. Ordinarily -- let me correct it then. Ordinarily, it wouldn' t be important whether it was September or October. In this fact pattern, it may be. Do you have any recollection, did anything else happen in September or October that may refresh your recollection on when you learned it?
Mr. Comey. No. It was either September/October, is my best recollection. If I had to say, which I will, more likely September than October, but I'm really not certain.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you know whether you learned it before there were any court filings or pleadings filed in connect ion with the Russia investigation?
Mr. Comey. Court filings? I don't remember court filings. Oh, you're talking about FISA? Sorry.
Mr. Gowdy. I was trying to avoid use of the word, but that's okay.
Mr. Comey. I think it's been used publicly, which is why I just used it.
Mr. Gowdy. I think it has too, but that doesn't mean it should have been.
Mr. Comey. Yeah. I certainly learned of it before the end of October. And I think the filing that you're referring to obliquely was at the end of October sometime. So it was before that.
Mr. Gowdy. When did you learn that Fusion GPS was hired by Perkins Coie?
Mr. Comey. I never learned that, certainly not while I was Director.
Mr. Gowdy. Well, when did you learn the DNC had hired Perkins Coie?
Mr. Comey. I never learned that. Again, while I was Director. I think I've read it in the media, but, yeah, even today, I don't know whether it's true.
Mr. Gowdy. Now, when you say you never learned it but may have read it in the media --
M r. Comey. After I left as Director.
Mr. Gowdy. While you were the Director, you never knew that the DNC hired a law firm that hired an oppo research firm that hired Christopher Steele?
Mr. Comey. No, I don't think so. I don't have any recollection of being told that or reading that or learning that while I was Director.
Mr. Gowdy. Is it relevant to you who was paying Chris Steele?
Mr. Comey. Yes, in the sense that I thought it was important to understand that it was politically motivated effort, first by Republicans, then by Democrats.
Mr. Gowdy. Whose obligation in the Bureau would it have been to bring it to your attention?
Mr. Comey. I don't know about your use of the word "obligation." I'd have to think that through more carefully, but I do know that I was told about it, I think, by the general counsel, but I'm not sure. And I don't know whether that stemmed from an obligation.
Mr. Gowdy. All right. We'll get at that another way. The word "obligation" stemmed from t he fact that this is a counterintelligence investigation into a political campaign. I think you testified -- and I hope you agree -- the source who was paying for that information would be relevant.
Mr. Comey. First of all, I have to disagree with your assertion that it was a counterintelligence investigation into a political campaign. I've said that earlier, that it wasn't. It was four counterintelligence files on four Americans. The --
Mr. Gowdy. I know you said that, Director Comey, but I think you --
Mr. Kelley. Let him finish his answer, please.
Mr. Comey. Who -- who paid and the particulars of who paid would be important to people working the case, but the level of specificity that the Director needed to know is, to my mind, a different question.
Mr. Gowdy. If the Director were signing a court filing that had a representation in it, the Director would want to know whether or not those representations were accurate.
Mr. Comey. The Director would want to know that the process -- carefully constructed process of the FBI had been followed, that the right people had reviewed things, that the right signoffs had been held, before I would sign the certification that came with it. That's probably the most I can say about the role of the Director in a FISA.
Mr. Gowdy. Was Christopher Steele also working with or for the Bureau while he was working for Fusion GPS?
Mr. Comey. I don't know.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you know whether the FBI was paying Christopher Steele for any of his work in the fall -- summer or fall of 2016?
Mr. Comey. My recollection is that the FBI was not paying him, that the FBI had reimbursed him for some travel expenses and had raised the prospect that if there was fruitful further work, he could be paid for it. But my recollection is that he was not paid. These are the things I remember learning when I was Director. Could be wrong, but I think that's what I was told.
Mr. Gowdy. I think you have answered the next question then. Assuming that you are incorrect and the FBI was paying him, you don't recall how much the FBI paid him?
Mr. Comey. Well, as I said, my recollection is that he was reimbursed for expenses and that he was not paid for his work in connection with the Russia subject, but that the prospect was raised. So, of course, given that I don't recall that he was paid for his work, the answer would be I don't recall how much he was paid because he wasn't paid, in my recollection.
Mr. Gowdy. When the Bureau uses sources or informants, are there agreements signed? Are there certain obligations on behalf of the source or the informant?
Mr. Comey. Yeah, I'm not expert enough to answer that. I'm sure that there are, but I don't know the particulars.
Mr. Gowdy. Is it -- would it be unusual for the FBI t o tell a source or an informant, you can't commit any other crimes while you're working for the Bureau?
Mr. Comey. I believe that's the case.
Mr. Gowdy. Would it be unusual for the Bureau to tell a source or an informant, you can't have media contact s while you're working for the Bureau?
Mr. Comey. I don't know whether that's part of the standard warnings or directions to a source. Mr. Gowdy. And you're not familiar --
Mr. Kelley. Excuse me. One second, please.
Mr. Comey. Okay, thank you. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Mr. Gowdy. How did Chris Steele's information reach the FBI?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for sure. I have some recollection that he passed it to an agent that he knew and that that agent sent it on to headquarters. I think that's the way in which it reached the Counterintelligence Division, but I don't remember the specifics of that.
Mr. Gowdy. How did the Bureau investigate whatever information Steele provided?
Mr. Comey. I don't know in particular. I know that the Counterintelligence Division was investigating various aspects of the reports he had supplied, and that investigation was ongoing when I was fired.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you know whether the Bureau endeavored to either contradict or corroborate factual assertions made in what has later been described as the Steele dossier?
Mr. Comey. My understanding is that that effort -- that an effort was under way to try to replicate, either rule in or rule out, as much of that collection of reports that's commonly now called the Steele dossier as possible, and that that work was ongoing when I was fired.
Mr. Gowdy. When did that work begin?
Mr. Comey. My recollection is sometime in '16, but I don't know when.
Mr. Gowdy. Before or after it was used in a court filing?
Mr. Comey. I think before that. I think -- I think when it was received, there was an effort immediately to try and evaluate it to understand it, and that continued over the next 6 months.
Mr. Gowdy. What is the basis of your belief that there wa s an immediate attempt to corroborate or contradict the underlying factual assertions?
Mr. Comey. I have some recollection, vague, of being told we're trying to assess this to understand what we can make of it, what parts we can rely on, what parts we can't. But I don't -- I don't remember more than that.
Mr. Gowdy. Was Steele the original source of the information, or did he himself have sources and subsources?
Ms. Bessee. Mr. Chairman, to the extent that it goes -- your line of questioning goes beyond Christopher Steele in particular and into other sources that may impact special counsel's investigation, I will have to instruct the witness not to answer the questions.
Mr. Gowdy. He can't answer whether Chris Steele was the original source for all of the information in the Steele dossier?
Ms. Bessee. To the extent it goes into --
Mr. Gowdy. I didn't mention the phrase "special counsel."
Ms. Bessee. I know you have not, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Gowdy. I'm just asking the former Director of the FBI, who received information from a source, whether that source had knowledge of the underlying accuracy of that information or whether the source was relying on other sources. I don't know how that implicates anything Bob Mueller's doing.
Ms. Bessee. If the source relies on other information, because this is all part of an ongoing investigation, it may impact -- Mr. Gowdy. How?
Ms. Bessee. Why don't we have the witness -- if it impacts the investigation, because the witness has knowledge as to whether it would or not, he may not be able to answer the question. So I will have the witness --
Mr. Gowdy. That's a different answer if he doesn't -- if he doesn't have recollection. Do you know whether Chris Steele relied on sources and subsources to compile the information that ultimately made it to the FBI?
Mr. Comey. My recollection is he did have a source network of sources and subsources and that this collection of reports reflected reporting by those, that source network.
Mr. Gowdy. Did the FBI make any effort to identify those sources and subsources that Steele would have relied upon? Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Gowdy. With success?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember, and I think I don't remember because the work was not finished before I left .
Mr. Gowdy. I'm not asking you for names, but I'm asking you for a sense of scope. How many sources and subsources did Steele rely upon?
Ms. Bessee. Mr. Chairman, again, the number or the how many sources or subsources would go to things involved i n the special counsel investigation. So the witness will not be able to answer that.
Mr. Gowdy. For the life of me, I don't understand how that could possibly be so. What I do know to be so is I need -- and think I have a right -- to ask the former Di rector of the FBI, given the fact that we've already established Steele had sources and subsources, whether or not the Bureau made an effort to contact and corroborate or contradict the information provided by those sources. Is it the Bureau's position th at I'm incorrect?
Ms. Bessee. Could we have a minute to talk to the witness?
Mr. Gowdy. Well, if it's -- yeah, if we can toll the clock. I mean, I'm already running out of time.
Mr. Comey. Can I have your question again,
Mr. Gowdy. Pardon me?
Mr. Comey. What's the question again?
Mr. Gowdy. God, if I remember. I think it was whether or not the Bureau made any effort -- oh, I think what I asked is whether or not you had an idea the scope, the breadth, of the number of sources or subsources Steele relied upon.
Mr. Comey. I don't. I have a recollection that there were a variety of sources and subsources, but I don't have a sense of the scope.
Mr. Gowdy. Do you have a sense that the Bureau was able to identify every source and subsource Steele relied upon?
Mr. Comey. I don't know one way or another.
Mr. Gowdy. I'm going to let Mr. Ratcliffe take over from here, other than I'm going to ask you whether hearsay is ordinarily admissible in court or not.
Mr. Comey. Is this a quiz?
Mr. Gowdy. No. Well, if I didn't think you could answer it, I wouldn't have asked you. I know you know the answer. Mr. Comey. It depends upon whether it fits within one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule.
Mr. Gowdy. Assuming -- what's t he general rule? We won't get to the exceptions. The general rule, is hearsay admissible or not admissible?
Mr. Comey. Well, the general rule is that hearsay is not admissible unless it falls within one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule. Mr. Gowdy. Right. And we're going to assume for the sake of argument that there's no exception unless you can identify one. What is the definition of -- well, is it an out - of - court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted?
Mr. Comey. Yes, that's my recollection.
Mr. Gowdy. All right.
Mr. Kelley. You know, Mr. Gowdy, we've agreed to be here to talk about the questions and decisions made and not made in connection with the investigation of Russia and Clinton's emails.
Mr. Gowdy. Yes.
Mr. Kelley. And we've been very patient, but why don't we get to the point instead of asking ridiculous questions about the definition --
Mr. Gowdy. The fact that you think it's ridiculous is of no consequence to me whatsoever, Mr. Kelley.
Mr. Kelley. I'm sure it's not.
Mr. Gowdy. It's not. And I've asked almost every other witness, none of whom had an attorney that didn't understand the relevance of that question. So that's between you and Mr. Comey. But the reason that I want to ask about hearsay is the ability to rely upon information that cannot be cross - examined. That's why I want to ask about it. And if you can't see that, then y'all can discuss that on the next break, but I'm going to go back into it, and for now, it will be Mr. Ratcliffe' s turn.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Mr. Comey, do you recall that you signed a FISA application on October 21st, 2016, relating to Carter Page?
Mr. Comey. I don't recall the date. I do remember signing such a FISA in October.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Would you have reviewed the FISA application before you signed it?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you recall that the FISA application would have been titled -- or was titled "verified application"?
Mr. Comey. No, I don't recall that.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Don't all FISA applications state that they are verified applications?
Mr. Comey. I don't know. I don't -- sitting here today, I can't remember the word "verified."
Mr. Ratcliffe. What did the FISA application that you signed on October 21st of 2016, aver in terms of probable cause for a warrant on Carter Page?
Ms. Bessee. Congressman, he can only respond to information that's not classified or that's been put out there 122 in the public. If there is something that he can look at, because, as you know, part of that -- parts of that application is classified.
Mr. Ratcliffe. I was told that -- that the Director didn't want to review any classified information today and that he came here without any provisional clearances because he didn't want them, but yet he was prepared to answer any questions that may pertain to classified information. Is that incorrect?
Mr. Kelley. That is incorrect. We were told in advance that this would not deal with anything law enforcement sensitive or classified information.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who told you that? Mr. Kelley. House counsel. Not so much who told me, so much as a representation made before a United States district judge.
Mr. Meadows. So, Mr. Chairman, I would recommend that there are two different statements that the attorney just made. One was classified; the other was law enforcement sensitive. I can't imagine that House counsel would have inadvertently agreed to that. We need to check with Mr. Hungar and make sure that we're consistent with that.
Chairman Goodlatte. We'll do that. The House counsel's position is very clear, that the Congress does not recognize an ongoing investigation prohibition on answering questions. We do obviously recognize a classified, and we're prepared to create that environment, if necessary, to ask that question in that environment.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Did the FISA application that you certified, or verified, allege that there was probable cause to believe that Carter Page was working for or with the Russian Government?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember specifically. My recollection is it was -- it was submitted to the court as part of an application where the Department of Justice was alleging that he was an agent of a foreign power, namely, the Russian Federation, but I can't remember what it said about probable cause.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Would it have averred that there was probable cause to believe that he was in a position to influence the Trump campaign or Trump campaign officials?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember that.
Mr. Ratcliffe. But you did review it?
Mr. Comey. Yes. I remember reading it for the purpose of signing the certification that the FBI Director has to sign.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you recall that part of the probable cause submitted to the court was the -- wha t you've referred to as the Steele dossier?
Mr. Comey. I don't.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Following up on Mr. Gowdy's question about Christopher Steele, do you know whether he had any direct knowledge about collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between anyone associated with the Trump campaign, or was it based on other sources and subsources?
Mr. Comey. My recollection is that it was the latter, that he didn't have personal knowledge of most, maybe all, of the things that were in the reports, but they were reported to him by sources and that the, sort of, the core allegation of the dossier, as I recall, was that there was an effort to coordinate with the Russian interference campaign, but that was not the product of Steele's personal knowledge is my -- I could be wrong about that, but that's my recollection.
Mr. Ratcliffe. All right, so, if there were other sources or subsources, would you agree that that information would be double and triple hearsay?
Mr. Comey. I don't know. Could be. I don't know.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you know whether each application -- or do you know whether the application that you signed states that the FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember that specifically. It sounds like the k ind of thing that would be in there as a matter of course, but I don't remember.
Mr. Ratcliffe. And what would be the purpose of verifying to the FISA court that the Department of Justice and the FBI have corroborated the allegations?
Mr. Comey. Well , you're trying to convince a Federal judge 125 that you have probable cause, and so the better you can present your evidence and the way it might overlap or interlock, the better the chance you have of convincing the judge you have probable cause.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So I want to relate to you some of the testimony that we've already received. FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe testified before Congress that the FBI could provide no points of verification to verify the Steele information other than the fact that Carter Page had traveled to Russia in July of 2016. Were you aware of that when you signed the application on October 21st of 2016?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember any of that right now.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Bill Priestap who -- what does Bill Priestap do at t he FBI?
Mr. Comey. I think he's still the Assistant Director in charge of the Counterintelligence Division.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Okay. He testified that corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its, quote/unquote, infancy, at the time of the application that you signed on October 21st, 2016. Did you know that?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember hearing that, but that makes sense to me, if my recollection is correct, that we got it in September or maybe October. It would, by definition, be in its infancy in October.
Mr. Ratcliffe. All right. And do you know when Christopher Steele was terminated as a source for the FBI?
Mr. Comey. I don't. And I don't know for a fact that he was terminated.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So have you reviewed any FBI source validation report on Christopher Steele?
Mr. Comey. I have not.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So you don't know whether or not such a report would reflect that, as of November 1st of 2016, Christopher Steele's reporting in the Steele dossier was determined by the FBI to be only, quote, minimally corroborated, end quote?
Mr. Comey. I don't know that.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So those things that I've just related to you about testimony as I've represented it from Andy McCabe and Bill Priestap, and the re port as I've represented it to you from the FBI, does that cause you any concern about the fact that you signed a verified application for a warrant to surveil Carter Page when the Steele dossier was only minimally corroborated or in its infancy in its corroboration?
Mr. Comey. I don't know enough or remember enough 2 years later to have a reaction. I don't know their testimony. I haven't looked at the thing.
Mr. Ratcliffe. I'm just asking you to accept what I've represented as true, and if it is true, does that cause you concern? Should the FISA court have been granting warrants where the information submitted and verified, in fact, had only been minimally corroborated?
Mr. Comey. Yeah, I can't answer that because I -- look, I accept what you 're saying, but I don't know what else you're not telling me that was in the FISA application and what was done. I just don't know enough about what happened to offer a view one way or the other.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Okay. Well, do you recall that, on numerous occasions subsequent to October 21st of 2016, you, in your capacity as the FBI Director, referred to the Steele dossier as salacious and unverified?
Mr. Comey. Yes. I don't know that I was referring to all of it. Maybe I was, but I had in mind some particular portions of it that were salacious and unverified.
Mr. Ratcliffe. But, again, your characterization of it was that it was unverified, even though you had verified it to the court?
Mr. Comey. Well, it was coming to us from a reliable source with a track record, and it's an important thing when you're seeking a PC warrant. But what I understand by verified is we then try to replicate the source information so that it becomes FBI investigation and our conclusions rather than a reliable source's. That's what I understand it, the difference to be. And that work wasn't completed by the time I left in May of 2017, to my knowledge.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Well, when you talk about getting a warrant and the PC and the importance there, isn't it import ant for the judge to be able to weigh the reliability and the credibility of all the sources for the information, particularly those that saw or heard the relevant information that serves as the predicate for seeking the warrant?
Mr. Comey. Not necessarily. I mean, I can imagine -- I think I've dealt with warrants where you just identify that your primary CI, or primary source, has subsources, and so long as the court is aware of that phenomenon and that you're speaking to the reliability of the primary source, to my mind, that's a totally legit warrant application.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who is Sally --
Mr. Comey. And I don't remember this one well enough to comment on it. I'm thinking about other criminal cases I've worked.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who is Sally Moyer? Sally Moyer?
Mr. Comey. A lawyer in the General Counsel's Office.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you know if she was involved in the preparation of the FISA application?
Mr. Comey. I don't.
Mr. Ratcliffe. If she testified -- and I'll represent to you that she testified that the FISA court -- it was 49 - 51, maybe 50 - 50, that the FISA court would have approved the warrant without the Steele dossier. If I represent that to you, does that cause you concern that the court was relying on a document that was largely unverified and minimally corroborated?
Mr. Comey. No. Because it asked me to assume the truth of the last part of your question, and I don't know that to be the case.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who -- you've already said you're not sure that Christopher Steele was terminated as a source for the FBI, correct?
Mr. Comey. Correct.
Mr. Ratcliffe. If he was terminated as a source for the FBI, it would be improper for him to continue to do work for the FBI. Would you agree with that, as a source?
M r. Comey. I guess I don't know what "work" means. I would say in general, but I would imagine there would be circumstances where someone -- in fact, I know -- sorry, go ahead.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So let me see if I can break it down. So does the FBI -- the FBI has an entire manual, don't they, on governing the use of confidential human sources?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Ratcliffe. All kinds of rules and validations, correct?
Mr. Comey. Correct.
Mr. Ratcliffe. And if Christopher Steele was, in fact, terminated, it would have been for violating those standards or rules or validations?
Mr. Comey. I don't know for sure. It could be for violating them, but -- I don't know for sure whether it could be something else too.
Mr. Ratcliffe. As you've sat here today -- as you sit here today, have you heard anything about the fact that Christopher Steele was terminated for leaking information to the press?
Mr. Comey. As I sit here today, since I left the FBI, I've read stuff in the media about that. I don't believe I had ever heard anything about that while I was still at the FBI.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Okay. So, if Christopher Steele -- again, I know you don't know whether he had been terminated, but if he was and he continued to provide information as a source to the FBI, who would have authorized that?
Mr. Comey. I don't know. And it's too much of a hypothetical for me to even begin to answer. I don't know. Because I don't know -- I don't know whether any of the -- the preamble to your question is true.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Are you aware that Christopher Steele had a relationship -- and by "relationship," I mean a working relationship -- with Bruce Ohr? Mr. Comey. Am I aware that he had a working relationship with Bruce Ohr? No.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Are you aware of any communications or contact between Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr?
Mr. Comey. I am not aware.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who is Bruce Ohr?
Mr. Comey. He's a lawyer for the Department of Justice, who I don't know exactly what his job was. I remember him from the Southern District of New York. But a DOJ lawyer.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Would you expect a DOJ lawyer to be part of the chain of custody of evidence relating to the Steele dossier or a FISA application? Mr. Comey. I'm not sure I kn ow what that means. Chain of custody with respect to a FISA application. With respect to the -- I just don't understand that question.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Yeah. Should a DOJ lawyer be used as a cutout to transfer evidence in connection with a FISA applica tion? Mr. Comey. I don't know.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Who would have approved that?
Mr. Comey. I don't know. I keep trying to imagine circumstances in which -- I'm not familiar with a circumstance in which it's happened, but I don't know enough --
Mr. Meadows. Are you aware of any other time where a DOJ attorney actually acted as a conduit to provide information that would go into a FISA application?
Mr. Comey. What do you mean by "conduit"?
Mr. Meadows. Well, with Mr. Ohr, Mr. Steele, it's been widely reported -- I'm sure you've read the reports, Director Comey, but in testimony, we would have an interaction between Mr. Steele, Mr. Simpson, and Mr. Ohr, and then that information was given to two individuals at the FBI, . Are you aware of any other time where a DOJ attorney was used in that manner to give information that ultimately went into a FISA application?
Mr. Comey. I can't remember a circumstance like that.
Mr. Meadows. So the answer is no?
Mr. Comey. Well, yeah, I -- I'm only hesitating because it's possible. I just -- in my personal experience, I've not -- I don't remember anything like that. Mr. Meadows. All right.
I yield back. Mr. Ratcliffe. Director Comey, does the FBI and the Department of Justice, is there a duty to present exculpatory evidence to the FISA court?
Mr. Comey. I don't know whether there's a legal duty. We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with Federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we're presenting.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So, if there was -- if the FBI and the Department of Justice had information that was contradictory to the predicate for which the warrant is being sought before the FISA court, you would expect that information to be presented to the court so that they could weigh the sufficiency of all of the information?
Mr. Comey. In general, I think that's right. You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a co mplete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.
Mr. Ratcliffe. What's a defensive briefing?
Mr. Comey. In the counterintelligence world, it's a mechanism by which the FBI will alert somebody to a counterintelligence threat that might tend to defeat the threat.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Are they done for Presidential candidates?
Mr. Comey. Not routinely. What's routinely done for candidates is a general briefing of -- what I meant by "defensive briefing" is it's specific to you and threats we see at you. With candidates, my recollection is we gave a general counterintelligence briefing about the threat coming from different nations.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you recall doing that for Secretary Clinton when she was the nominee?
Mr. Comey. I don't. But I assume that someone did.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Okay. Do you know if one was done for candidate Trump?
Mr. Comey. Again, I don't know for sure, but I expect it was done, just as it was done for Secretary Clinton.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Where would I get that information? Who would I ask, since you don't know?
Mr. Comey. Probably the Director of National Intelligence's Office. I have some recollection that they arranged for briefings of the candidates once they were nominated, and then part of t hat briefing would include a threat briefing from the FBI about the counterintelligence threat.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So you -- you would not have participated in that, is what it sounds like.
Mr. Comey. Yeah, I did not. That's why I don't have any recollection of it, but --
Mr. Ratcliffe. But someone from the FBI would have?
Mr. Comey. Yes.
Mr. Ratcliffe. Do you know who that would have been?
Mr. Comey. No. And it could have been -- let me just add this for clarity as you're looking -- there was an FBI senior executive who was assigned to the Director of National Intelligence as the National Counterintelligence Executive, NCIX or something, it may well have been that executive who works for the DNI doing it, but who that person -- sorry.
Mr. Ratcliffe. So I'm going to ask the question -- I think I know the answer based on what you've just said. But at the time a defensive briefing was done for candidate Trump, do you know if the FBI had any evidence that anyone associated with the Trump campaign had colluded or conspired or coordinated with Russia in any way?
Mr. Comey. I don't know the dates, whether -- I don't know whether it was before late July when we opened the four counterintelligence files, or not. And so, if it was after July 29th , then the answer would be, yes, we had some reason to suspect that there were Americans who might have assisted the Russians. If it was before then, the answer is no. I can't remember when the conventions were and that sort of thing.
Mr. Meadows. So your testimony here today is that, before July 31st of 2016, you had no indication that there was someone wanting to intrude into the Trump campaign?
Mr. Comey. I don't know when I learned anyone wanted to intrude into the Trump campaign. I knew as of late July that the Russians had a massive effort to mess with our democracy ongoing. I don't think before the end of July I had any information that Americans might be assisting that effort.
Mr. Meadows. And so at what point did George Papadopoulos co me on your radar, Director Comey?
Mr. Comey. Late July, which is what -- oh, sorry. Mr. Meadows. So, you're saying late July --
Ms. Bessee. Congressman?
Mr. Meadows. Well, hold on. Hear me out. Hear the question. Because we've had other testimony that would indicate, in a nonclassified setting, that goes right to the heart of this matter, even from Mr. Papadopoulos himself. So, prior to July 31st of 2016, when you opened what is now known as, I guess, Crossfire Hurricane, or this investigation, was there no effort on part -- on the part of the FBI or no knowledge -- let me correct that -- no knowledge on the part of the FBI of anybody, George Papadopoulos or any others, that potentially could have been involved in this Russian narrative?
M r. Comey. This -- Counsel, this I've said publicly, and it's been cleared, I think, in my book, so I'm going to say it again. My recollection is the first information we had, certainly the first information that came to my attention that Americans might be working with the Russians as part of their efforts, came at the end of July -- I think the 31st is too late, but the last week of July -- when we received information from an allied nation about the conversations their ambassador had in England with George Papadopoulos. That was the beginning of it, which is the first time we turned to trying to figure out whether any Americans were working with the Russians.
Mr. Meadows. So any information that was collected prior to that would have been done without the FBI's knowledge, without your direct knowledge? Is that what you're telling me?
Mr. Comey. I don't know what you mean by "any information that was collected."
Mr. Meadows. So any counterintelligence collection that was done by the FBI would h ave been done without your knowledge prior to the last week of July 2016?
Mr. Comey. I'm sorry to keep quibbling, but I don't know what you mean by "any information collected." The FBI has lots of collection going on all the time.
Mr. Meadows. As it relates to Russian interference and the potential use of people within the Trump campaign, was there any initiation on the part of the FBI to collect information prior to the last week of July of 2016? And if so -- well, answer that question.
Mr. Comey . So I want to make sure I'm getting it right. Was there --
Mr. Meadows. I want you to get it right, too, because it's at conflict with -- what you're saying is at conflict with what we've had in other testimony.
Mr. Comey. Okay. Well, I mean, I can't help that. I'll tell you what I -- what I know, that, if you're asking, was there any information that the FBI had that people associated with the Trump campaign might be working with the Russians -- if we had any such information before the end of July? Is that the question?
Mr. Meadows. Well, you can answer that question.
Mr. Comey. Yeah, I'm not aware of any information before the end of July on that subject --
Mr. Meadows. Right.
Mr. Comey. -- and it was our first information at the end of July that prompted the opening of those four files.
Mr. Meadows. So, prior to the end of July, did you direct or did you have knowledge of the FBI trying to collect information about the possible Russian - Trump campaign -- and I won't use the word "collusion" -- but interactions as it relates to the 2016 Presidential election?
Mr. Comey. Not that I'm aware of. I'm sure there was lots of effort to figure out what the heck was going on with the Russians because we saw their effort blossom in the middle of June. But I'm not aware of any information before that at the end of July about the possibility that Americans were working with the Russians.
Mr. Meadows. So
Mr. Comey. That's what led to the opening of those --
Mr. Meadows. So, if Mr. Bak er or anyone within the FBI had actively engaged in that prior to the last week of July of 2016, that would have been without your knowledge?
Mr. Comey. See I don't --
Mr. Meadows. That's what you're testifying --
Mr. Comey. -- it's possible I knew a t the time. I don't remember any information before the end of July that bore on that topic.
Mr. Gowdy. Director, we only have a couple minutes before it's the Democrats' turn. I think during the last time we talked -- well, the first time we talked, you said you did not talk to Rod Rosenstein after you received word that you had been terminated?
Mr. Comey. That's correct.
Mr. Gowdy. Have you had a conversation with the President since you were terminated?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Have you had a conversation with Jeff Sessions?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you have a conversation with Bob Mueller from the time you were terminated until the time he was appointed special counsel?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Gowdy. Did you have a conversation with anyone who is currently on Special Counsel Mueller's team between the time you were terminated and the time special counsel was appointed?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Meadows. Let me ask one clarifying question, if you don't mind. Director Comey, you were saying that you had no knowledge that Perkins Coie was actually involved with the Democrat National Committee and involved in this particular investigation that ultimately was initiated. Is that correct?
Mr. Comey. I, when I was FBI Director, don't remember ever being told anything about Perkins Coie. I think I've since read stuff in the media, but not when I was Director.
Mr. Meadows. So are you saying that James Baker, your general counsel, who received direct information from Perkins Coie, did so and conveyed that to your team without your knowledge?
Mr. Comey. I don't know.
Mr. Meadows. What do you mean you don't know? I mean, did he tell you or not?
Mr. Comey. Oh, I -- well --
Mr. Meadows. James Baker, we have testimony that would indicate that he received information directly from Perkins Coie; he had knowledge that they were representing the Democrat National Committee and, indeed, collected that information and conveyed it to the investigative team. Did he tell you that he received that information from them? And I can give you a name if you want to know who he received it from.
Mr. Comey. I don't remember the name Perkins Coie at all.
Mr. Meadows. What about Michael Sussmann?
Mr. Comey. I think I've read that name since then. I don't remember learning that name when I was FBI Director. I was going to ask you a followup, though. When you say "that information," what do you mean?
Mr. Meadows. Well, it was cyber information as it relates to the investigation.
Mr. Comey. Yeah, I have some recollection of Baker interacting with -- you said the DNC, which sparked my recollection -- with the DNC about our effort to get information about the Russian hack of them --
Mr. Meadows. Yeah, that's -- that's not -- that 's not what I'm referring to.
Mr. Comey. -- but I don't -- I don't remember anything beyond that.
Mr. Meadows. And so I can give you something so that you -- your counsel can look at it and refresh your memory, perhaps, as we look at that, but I guess my concern is your earlier testimony acted like this was news to you that Perkins Coie represented the Democratic National Committee, and yet your general counsel not only knew that but received information from them that was transmitted to other people in the investigative team. And I find it interesting that the Director would not know about that because it is not normal that your general counsel would be a custodian of evidence. Is that correct? Was it -- was it normal that people sought out your general counsel to make them aware of potential concerns? Is that normal?
Mr. Comey. I kind of think it is not as uncommon as you're suggesting it is.
Mr. Meadows. Well, Mr. Baker thought it was uncommon. He said he couldn't ever recall it ever happening before.
Mr. Comey. I don't know what the "it" is. What I'm struggling with here is --
so they are on another break and mostly back and forth convo with no major bomb shells but hey it all cant be news worthy
Mr. Meadows. Where someone reaches out to the general counsel to give them evidence to say that they want the FBI to look into it. He couldn't recall another time. And you're saying it's not uncommon.
Mr. Comey. Used to happen to me all the time. People would email me, saying, check this out, check that out, so -- Mr. Meadows. It may happen with the Director, but it didn't happen with the general counsel.
Mr. Comey. Okay. That surprises me a little bit, but in any event, I don't remember him raising it. I don't think it's particularly noteworthy that he wouldn't tell me, but I don't know enough to react to it.
Mr. Meadows. So he says a unique situation that had only, in his mind, happened twice in his history with the Bureau, and you're saying that it was so unique there that -- yet he did not tell you about that? Is that your testimony?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Meadows. That's not your testimony?
Mr. Comey. No.
Mr. Meadows. Or he didn't tell you?
Mr. Comey. No. I -- I didn't -- I heard you characterizing my testimony as me saying it's so unique. I don't remember -- Mr. Meadows. I'm saying he said it was unique; did he tell you?
Mr. Comey. I'm struggling because I haven't seen his testimony. So maybe you could let me look at it during the break, and then I can answer on our next round.
Mr. Meadows. Yeah, it's -- it's just a two -- two sentence, and I'll read it to you: It was unusual for me to be the recipient of information directly from the public or a lawyer or anyone else about an allegation of a crime, close quote.
Mr. Comey. Okay. I mean, I accept your reading of it. It doesn't change my reaction that it doesn't -- I don't remember it. Second, it doesn't strike me as extraordinary that, if that had happened, he wouldn't give me the particulars.
Mr. Meadows. We're out of time.
Ms. Sachsman Grooms. Okay. We'll go back on the record. I t is 2:12. I just have a little bit of cleanup from the last round, and then I'll pass off to the members. BY MS. SACHSMAN GROOMS: Q In the last round, you were talking about the importance of the FBI and DOJ sharing the complete picture of the evidence with the FISA court. Is that accurate? A Yes. Q Okay. Does that require every detail of that information or a general picture? A No, it doesn't -- look, I don't think there's a Brady obligation that applies in the probable cause presentation requirement context or you have to turn over your entire file. You have a general duty of candor to the court, so you try to make them generally aware of the state of the evidence that they're relying upon. Q And I think this might have gotten a little b it garbled through the questions in the last round. I think you said that it was relevant to you to provide to the court the information regarding who was paying Christopher Steele. Is that accurate? A I don't remember whether I focused on it at the tim e. I think it's important that any material issue of bias be surfaced for a court about one of your sources, and so I think it made sense for the Department of Justice to alert the court 145 that there was politically motivated financial support for this effo rt. Q And so in order to do that, you thought it was important to say the sort of general statement that it had been funded or politically motivated in the financing by Republicans or Democrats in general? A Right. And the particulars of which Democrats , which Republicans, I wouldn't think would be important to the court. They'd want to be aware of the general bias, and that's my reaction. Q Okay. And I wanted to be really clear on that because, in the last round, I think there were a number of questions about the particulars of whether you knew or the court knew that the DNC had specifically paid Perkins Coie as a law firm and that had been the conduit to paying Christopher Steele. Did you think the particulars of that were important to either your analysis or to the FISA court? A No, I wouldn't think so. It actually doesn't even seem important to me now, who cares what particular organizations or particular people. The court needed to be aware that there's a potential for bias because there's a political motivation to the support for this effort. Q Did you then or do you know have any concerns about the process that occurred around the Carter Page FISA? A I do not
soo seems to be just a series of questions that my frazzled brain isnt getting the context of but only about 70 more pages to go and they get back into the direct interviews in the next post
Q In the last round, I think you were asked a number of questions around the tim ing of the initiation of the Russia investigation as it pertains to the connection to U.S. persons. And I think during that you said that was towards the end of July that that occurred. Is that right? A That's my recollection, yes. Q I think the underl ying questions that came up have to do with some actions that were taken by Peter Strzok and by others in the time period before the end of July. They traveled to London, they did investigatory work on a number of different things. If they were doing that work, is it fair to say that that work would not have been part of investigating U.S. persons connected to the Russians in that time period prior to the end of July? A I don't know. If my recollection is correct that we opened the cases on the U.S. persons at the end of July, then it's possible there was work being done immediately before that to flesh out and understand the information that would then predicate the cases that would be opened at the end of July, but I don't know that. I remember the cases being opened at the end of July, and I don't know the nature and quality of any work that went on before that. Q But Peter Strzok and his team were working on larger scale Russia things before that, right? A Right, to try to understand what are the Russians doing, what's the scope of it, what's its intention. Q And without getting into the particulars of what they were doing, those things could have included traveling to foreign countries or interviewing witnesses, et cetera? A Of course. I jus t don't remember it. Q And then I just had one more thing. At the end of the last round, there was a long discussion about Mr. Baker and his testimony and how he had testified that there was this unique instance, and I just wanted to read into the record some of his testimony from his second day when he came back, because we saw him twice. And in that, at the very beginning, he said he wanted to bring up this thing that he had not recalled from the previous one, and I'm just going to read from the recor d. He said: So I recalled after, just actually a few days ago, that another incident when this time an attorney on behalf of a client came to me and wanted -- came specifically to me and wanted to make information available to the FBI in the form of elec tronic media that he wanted to get into the -- Mr. Jordan asked: Different case or same case? Mr. Baker said: Different case. Mr. Jordan said: Okay. Mr. Baker said: Well, a completely different case, different attorney, different client, but ins isted on meeting 148 only with me or the Director, and then he did not have the material with him at the time. We had to actually dispatch FBI agents to go to a -- from a field office to go to collect this material. It was in the -- to the best of my recollection, it was roughly in the late summer, fall of 2016 timeframe. So I just wanted to clarify that for the record.
so more stop asking questions about the current investigation and questions if this has ever occured before but seems like mostly info that is allready publicly known but at least they are back to the normal routine of interviewing
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Director Comey, thank you for coming, and thank you for your service to your country. In March 2017, you disclosed in public testimony that the FBI had begun an investigation into, quote: The Russian Government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election, including, quote, the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian Government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts, close quote. When did the FBI first learn of credible evidence that the Russian Government was trying to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election ?
Mr. Comey. I believe it was with the release in mid June of the DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 stolen emails.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Mid June 2016?
Mr. Comey. Correct.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Were you, at that time, aware of the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9th, 2016, between Donald Trump, Junior, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and some Russian nationals?
Mr. Comey. I think that's a question that I can't answer because it dives into a nonpublic level of detail about the Russia investigation.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Okay. So in mid June 2016, you first learned about the Russian Government's interference or attempt to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. When did the FBI first learn of credible evidence that individuals associated with the Trump campaign may be coordinating with the Russian Government?
Mr. Comey. The first I'm aware of that was the end of July of 2016, which is what led us to open counterintelligence cases on four different Americans.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Okay. And what was your reaction to this?
Mr. Comey. I don't remember a particular reaction, other than that it was going to be very important that we do this in a close hold way so that we don't alert the people we're going to investigate that we're looking at this and s o that the investigation is able to be done in a quality way in the middle of a political season. I remember being concerned about that. And then just open minded about whether there's anything to it or not. I couldn't tell at the beginning whether there was.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Have you ever been affiliated with any kind of investigation similar to this where a foreign government 150 may be coordinating or somehow connecting with a political campaign of the United States?
Mr. Comey. Not -- I don't remember. I've been involved with a lot of cases where foreign governments may be connected in an illicit way to public figures. That's a big part of the FBI's counterintelligence work. I don't remember a campaign context.
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. Got it. Has the FBI ever investigated the potential coordination between a Presidential campaign and a foreign adversary before?
Ms. Bessee. Congressman, to the extent it goes to any -- any investigative activity that the FBI may be investigating, the witness will not be able to answer to either confirm or deny. Do you want to ask that question in general? I don't know how you ask that hypothetically, but --
Mr. Krishnamoorthi. No, this is about past, not the current Mueller investigation or any current investigation.
Mr. Comey. I don't remember being involved in any such investigation prior to 2016.