Return to Transcripts main page
FBI Director James Comey Testifies Before House Oversight Committee; Rep. Elijah Cummings Comments on Comey Hearing; 2 Shootings Tap into Deep Frustrations over Police Interaction with African- Americans. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 7, 2016 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHAFFETZ: Videos that are uploaded to a YouTube site, would those be considered Federal Records?
[14:30:05] COMEY: I don't know.
CHAFFETZ: So they're paid for by federal dollars. They're maintained by federal employees. Would that not be a federal record?
CHAFFETZ: Yeah I just don't know. I'm sure there's an expert who can answer that in two seconds but I'm not that expert.
CHAFFETZ: OK we've kept you here a long time. I want to follow up on that. Is the FBI still investigating Hillary Clinton's aides?
COMEY: No is the answer. The Department of Justice declined on all of those who were subjects communicating her through that e-mail system.
CHAFFETZ: What recommendations did you make about her aides?
COMEY: Same, same. We didn't recommend that anybody be prosecuted on those facts.
CHAFFETZ: And if you can help us understand who precisely had been ruled out for prosecution that would be.
CHAFFETZ: Did you look at the Clinton Foundation?
COMEY: I'm not going to comment on the existence or nonexistence of any other investigations.
CHAFFETZ: Was the Clinton Foundation tied into this investigation?
COMEY: Yeah I'm not going to answer that.
CHAFFETZ: The server that was set up in her home was originally set up by, you said, former President Bill Clinton.
CHAFFETZ: Do you know who paid for that? COMEY: I don't sitting here.
CHAFFETZ: OK. I'll have equal time for my colleague and friend, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: I'm going to yield two minutes of my 3.43 to Mr. Lynch.
LYNCH: Thank you, Mr. Director. We're talking about hacking. And so on this committee, we -- we -- we're very much interested in cyber security. And we review a lot of the major hacks that are going on.
So just recently, I would say in the last 18 months, we've had a major hack February of 2016 at the Department Of Homeland Security and the FBI. We had a hacking group; the Site Intelligence Group reported that a group called crackers with attitude had hacked 9,000 employees' data from Department Of Homeland Security including names, e-mail addresses, locations, and telephone numbers.
Also, 20,000 FBI workers. We had another hack direct evidence obviously of those, another hack at OPM of 4.2 million current and former federal government employees. Their information had been stolen including social security numbers which are not redacted.
We had IRS in May 2015, millions -- no, I'm sorry 200,000 attempted and 100,000 were successful. We had State Department announced a breach of its computer systems after an infiltration forced the agency to temporarily shut down its classification system.
We had the United States Postal Service, 800,000 postal employees, 2.9 million customers. The White House, Washington Post reported back in -- this is back in 2014, that the White House computer was hacked.
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration; we had -- I'm on another committee for financial services we had Verizon, USCLA health systems, thousands and thousands and thousands of employees, Anthem Health Care, Sony Pictures, Staples, Home Depot, JP Morgan -- it gets into the millions.
Community health systems, Target, TJX, all of these we have direct evidence, millions and millions and million of people their accounts being hacked. Any direct evidence that Hillary Clinton's e- mails were hacked?
I have no further questions. I yield back.
CUMMINGS: Mr. Director, we are about at the end. I'm gonna do a concluding statement and then I think the chairman will. I wanna -- first of all, I want to go back to something that Ms. Watson Coleman said a little earlier. As an African-American man in this country, 66 years old, moving towards the twilight of my life, we cannot allow black men to begin -- to continue to be slaughtered. This morning I woke up to my wife literally crying, watching the tape of this guy Anton Sterling in Baton Rouge and then she looked at the one the Philandro Castle near Minneapolis.
And I hope you watch them. There's something wrong with this picture. And don't get me wrong, I am all for -- I supported police, I am a lawyer. And I know how important police are and I know there are so many great folks.
But Mr. Director, if you do nothing else in your 2,000 plus days left, you have got to help us get a hold of this issue. It is so painful. I can't even begin to tell you. And so I don't want -- I've been fortunate in my life.
I've been very fortunate that I have not been harmed by the police, but I've been stopped 50 million times. Now, with regard to this hearing I want to thank you again. You know, as I listen to you, you said something that I will never forget. And for some reason it gave me a chill.
You said there are two things that are most important to me, two things. You said my family and my reputation. My family and my reputation. And I -- I don't know whether your family is watching this but I hope that they are as proud of you as I am.
Because you are the epitome of what a public servant is all about. Sacrificing over and over and over again, trying to do the right thing, sometimes coming under ridicule, but yet still doing the right thing. And so I hope that they are proud of you.
The second thing I hope is that no matter what has happened in this hearing, I hope that you know that your reputation is still in tact. And so I conclude by summarizing that I think some of our key findings today, first the director testified that his entire team of 15 to 20 FBI investigators and analysts unanimously agree on the recommendation not to prosecute Secretary Clinton.
Second, Director Comey made crystal clear that Republican claims, some of the talking heads claims of bias are completely false. Testified that he would treat John Doe the same way he would treat Hillary Clinton, that he was forceful on that point.
Third, on the claim that Secretary Clinton sent or received e- mails that were marked as classified, that claim has now been significantly under cut. Those documents were not classified and those markings were not proper.
Finally, Republicans have repeatedly cried foul about a double standard when it comes to Secretary Clinton's e-mails. But Director Comey testified the real double standard would have been to prosecute her with this completely -- with this completely inadequate evidence. Again, director, I thank you. But I thank somebody else. I thank and having practiced law for many years and having dealt with the FBI on many cases, I want to thank the people who work with you because it's not just -- this is not just about you. This is not just about Secretary Clinton. When we are addressing you the whole cad ray of people who give their blood, their sweat and their tears to protect us as Americans. And I just want to thank them because sometimes I think they are forgotten, unseen, unnoticed, unappreciated and unapplauded.
But today I applaud them and I thank you.
Thank you very much and I yield back.
CHAFFETZ: And I thank the gentleman. And I concur with the idea that every FBI agent I have ever met has just been above reproach and they make us proud and they work hard, they put their lives on the line.
They serve overseas, they serve domestically. Can't thank them enough for what they do. And I hope that is part of the message that we carry back.
I cannot thank you personally enough, you, on a personal level, for your accessibility, your ability to get on the phone with me the same day that you make your announcement, and then in rapid fire when I said to you, what day is best -- we're going to have to do this so which day is best for you. And you said Thursday, and here we are and doing it.
I can't thank you enough. I wish all of the government employees would have that attitude and approach. And I really do. And I can't thank you enough. I look forward to working with you and your staff as we move forward in getting this documentation, things that you can't share publicly and others.
It is the intention of the committee to -- I told Mr. Cummings here that we would come back after votes. Votes have been pushed back now a bit. So what I would like to do is to go into recess for five minutes and then we will start with our second panel.
Committee stands in recess until five minutes from now.
Thank you, again, Director Comey.
[14:41:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So there you see the director of the FBI, James Comey, four and a half hours of testimony today before the House Government Affairs Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Very, very strong statement. Strongly defending his decision against recommending any criminal charges be filed against Hillary Clinton or her aides in connection with the use of private e- mail servers over four years while she served as secretary of state. But also continuing to insist she and her aides were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
Let's get some analysis on what we just heard from the FBI director. Very important testimony. Our CNN political director, David Chalian, is with us; CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez. Our legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates, is with us as well.
Evan, let me start with you.
Because we did get new information, new details on what Hillary Clinton knew about classified information being used on her private e- mail.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. One bit of information we were able to get from this hearing that was significant about those -- what Comey had described on Tuesday as a small number of documents that contained markings that indicated that there was classified information. That's important because Hillary Clinton has been saying, including before Congress, that she never sent or received classified information that was marked classified at the time that she was sending them. What we learned today from Director Comey is that there were three e-mails, three e-mails that contained a marking "C," within parentheses, which designated that those contained classified information. That's important because it contradicts what Hillary Clinton has been saying. Comey also clarified there was no header on the e-mails to indicate that this was classified information. This was a small letter "C" that was included in the body of the text of the e-mails. And he also said that it was reasonable that she would have known that there was classified information.
One of the things we also learned was from Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee there, he's saying that because of this information, he was going to send a letter to the FBI to seek an investigation of Clinton for lying to Congress. She did testify before Congress. And he says that this is proof that she lied. I can tell you, from listening to what Comey said subsequently, there's very much reason to believe the FBI and Justice Department will reject that request because Comey already said that he doesn't think she knew at the time that she was not telling the truth about that -- Wolf?
BLITZER: He didn't back away though from the other point. Yes, there were these three e-mails that had that letter "C" for classified or confidential, whatever the "C" stood for. He made that clear, the State Department yesterday, said but that was an error. They cited two of those e-mails, Evan, suggesting that this was human error for that letter "C." Those two e-mails -- they didn't say three, they said two of those e-mails were not classified in any way. It was a mistake that was made by some officials at the State Department. Explain what they're suggesting right there.
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, what the State Department is saying that at least two of the three e-mails we're talking about, that someone essentially mistakenly left the letter "C" in there to denote classification. And these were really matters that didn't really matter anymore because they had to do with phone calls that were being scheduled and that once the secretary of state made those phone calls, they were simply no longer classified. That really gets into the arcane parts of how classification works and why this is such a difficult issue for people who understand.
Obviously, Comey's larger point here -- and I think the point for the Republican members of Congress -- is that really we're talking about a lot of e-mails, that none of this belongs on a private server, this was an improper way to handle classified information. And Comey's larger point also was that, even despite the impropriety here, Wolf, it to the level of bringing charges against the former secretary of state. As a matter of fact, he said that the one standard that people were trying to look at, whether or not there was gross negligence. He says there's only been one time that that statute has been used that way in 99 years, and that was for an espionage case. Clearly did not rise to the level to prosecute Hillary Clinton -- Wolf?
[14:45:48] BLITZER: But let's develop that a little bit right now.
David, he did not back away at all from his earlier statement on Tuesday that there were 110 e-mails that were classified, various categories of classification, confidential, secret, top-secret, special access programs, top-secret. Even though they weren't marked classified in those e-mail chains, any reasonable person, especially a secretary of state, would have known that was classified information and had no -- it was irresponsible to see that information on these private e-mail servers. He didn't back away, David, from that at all.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: He didn't back away, but he also backed up his claim that he didn't see any intent, any criminal intent, behind Hillary Clinton's handling of those 110 classified e- mails that you're talking about.
I mean, Wolf, think -- let's just look at the macro politics of this. On Tuesday when Comey came out and delivered what was a scathing rebuke of Hillary Clinton's behavior, she -- but then said he wasn't recommending prosecution, today he was defending his position to not recommend prosecution, and I think on merit, today was probably a better day for Hillary Clinton, vis-a-vis, Jim Comey, than was Tuesday.
BLITZER: No doubt about that. She definitely liked what she heard from the FBI director, even though he continued to insist that she was extremely careless over those four years in handling sensitive information on the private e-mail server.
Laura -- I want to get to our Manu up, on the Hill, we'll get to you in a moment.
Manu Raju is standing by, our congressional correspondent, with Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee.
Go ahead, Manu, and talk to Elijah Cummings and get reaction to what we just heard.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Thanks, Wolf.
Mr. Cummings, thanks for talking to us.
Some pretty sharp criticism from the FBI director about the way Hillary Clinton handled classified intelligence. Do you have any concerns about the way she did handle classified intelligence? REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D), MARYLAND: Sure, I have concerns. And I'm
sure that she has her own concerns. She's already admitted that she made a mistake. And so -- but I think the more significant thing here is that this was an effort to -- I think, to attack the FBI director, and again his reputation is impeccable and he was not shaken. He made it clear that he treated her like he would treat any Jane Doe. And he said that if he had treated her differently -- that is, if he had prosecuted -- recommended -- made a recommendation for prosecution, that that would have been a double standard against her. In other words, that he would have treated her wrongfully as opposed to a regular person. And he said that he doesn't go around trying to do celebrity indictments. And I think -- I was very pleased about his testimony.
The other thing that he said -- and we didn't know this until today -- that 15 to 20 FBI agents who worked on this unanimously, unanimously, said that this would be no prosecution in this case. And o -- and there is another thing that was undercut. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Clinton is right -- there were no documents that were in fact marked classified. There was -- there was a mistake that he didn't even know about, a small "C" was written on a paragraph in three documents out of 30,000-some.
RAJU: But he also said that she's not sophisticated enough. She wasn't sophisticated enough. That is his words.
CUMMINGS: Well, yeah, but again. Again, keep in mind, even if you take -- let's assume -- let's assume that -- the fact is that they weren't even marked classified. So I mean --
RAJU: Three of those were.
[14:50:05] CUMMINGS: Yeah, three out of 30,000-some. And they had a small "C," and apparently it was just a mistake, that they were not classified, and they did not have six or seven things, headers on the pages, that would have notified somebody that they were in fact classified.
But I think the thing that also concerns me is that Republicans want this drum beat to continue. They're now talking about doing a referral with regard to her testimony before the Congress. And this again is that same old political game. That is trying to bring down Hillary Rodham Clinton by any means necessary. So -- but again, I thought today was very helpful. I asked him to just put in plain language for the American people why it is that he made the decision, and I thought that he did a very good job.
RAJU: One last question. Are you concerned about how -- that the -- Comey said that if she were in the FBI, she could potentially lose her job, lose her security clearance. Those were pretty strong words from --
(CROSSTALK) CUMMINGS: Those were very strong words. But I think clearly, Hillary
Clinton, having gone through all that she's gone through, has learned a very, very valuable lesson.
RAJU: Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Manu, thanks very much.
Laura Coates, one of the arguments we've been hearing over the past 48 hours, they could have filed gross negligence charges against Hillary Clinton and her aides because, in the words of the FBI director, they were extremely careless in handling very sensitive, highly classified information. He explained today why that would be -- that was not appropriate. Did you accept that explanation?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I did. Because, Wolf, what he was trying to convey is that negligence is kind of a continuum. It's not an either/or, like intent would be. Either you had the intent to do it or you didn't have the intent to do it. You had to prove it circumstantially. You talk about gross negligence, I know much was made about the e-mail server being on her private grounds, however, but to actually have a server in place and not to have an indication that she was willy-nilly trying to release classified information in the general public in a way that didn't do anything to safeguard its classification or confidentiality, that would be, of course, negligence. But here we had a server, as Comey talks about, may have been less secure than perhaps a commercial or even the State Department, but it is not gross negligence to have taken some measures to safeguard the material.
More importantly, what the FBI recognizes is they cannot bridge the gap between her decision to actually have an off-site e-mail server and her handling of classified documents. Frankly, three out of at least 30,000 e-mails does not an inference of intent make.
BLITZER: What about the other argument that he made that there were 110 classified documents on that -- those e-mail servers that she reasonably should have known were classified and should never have been there to begin with?
COATES: Now that may, in fact, be true, according to his statements. What Comey has done is brought all the scrutiny on himself. What makes his statements before the DOJ was made aware of his decision so odd is that, by his comments about carelessness, rather than the legal standards of intent and gross negligence, he tried to have an open, public court of opinion as opposed to one that's normally reserved for the private discussion between the DOJ and the A.G. Lynch and the actual FBI team. His statements were, in fact, the careless part because, in fact, his statements indicate it is a reproach on her character, not a legal conclusion that he is neither entitled to make nor charged with the duty to actually have. The role of the prosecutor in this case is to assess the investigation. The role of the final jury, if there had been one, is to assess whether her conduct was careless to the degree of gross negligence. He steps outside of his bounds in this regard and he is painting a bad lesson in front of Congress today.
BLITZER: David Chalian, I think this testimony, four and a half hours or so of testimony today by the FBI director, it is not completed. I think it sets the stage, correct me if I'm wrong -- I'm anxious to know if you agree -- for Hillary Clinton herself to address this issue.
CHALIAN: Yeah. She's going to have to address this issue in some way. And talking to folks around the campaign that should be probably before the Democratic convention, obviously. Even if Elijah Cummings was listing through the things that he believed Comey said today that helped Hillary Clinton's case, even if Hillary Clinton believes that, too, she still has some lingering questions now from all that Jim Comey has said. And quite frankly, she has admitted mistakes. But politically, if she really wants to try to move past this or take some of the sting out that Republicans have right now with all this fodder from it, addressing it head-on, answering questions about it is a good way.
[14:55:09] Wolf, I will say though, one of the things that happens in a day like this with four and half hours of testimony, it inherently becomes partisan. Right? Because you have Republicans asking questions, Democrats asking questions, back and forth between each side. And as soon as the sort of partisan theater of it takes shape, what happens is that, if you're a Trump supporter or a Republican looking to defeat Hillary Clinton, you go to your side and all the Hillary Clinton supporters to her side, that is a firmer ground for each sit side to sort of conduct their political talking points on, than where Hillary Clinton was by Tuesday when Jim Comey was by himself just offering a rebuke of what he called extremely careless behavior.
BLITZER: David Chalian, Evan Perez, Laura Coates, Manu Raju, thanks to all of you.
CNN's special live coverage will continue right now with Don Lemon an Erica Hill. They're standing by.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN's special coverage of two deadly police shootings that have now ignited nationwide outrage.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. I'm Don Lemon.
Footage of the latest incident has been viewed more than three million times. The two shootings happened in different states, involved different circumstances, Erica, but they are tapping into some deep frustration over how police interact with African-American citizens.
HILL: It is the day after one video showed police killing a Louisiana man restrained on the ground, comes now this second video, this one out of Minnesota, equally disturbing. It does not show the exact moment the officer shot a man he had pulled over for an alleged broken taillight. LEMON: But the footage does reveal the gut-wrenching moments
immediately after and in real time.
The victim's fiancee was live streaming her experience as the horror was unfolding, watching what would turn out to be the final breaths ever taken by her fiance, a man named Philando Castile.
We'll show you the full video. It is nearly 10 minutes long.
But first, you're going to hear from the woman who recorded it. Moments ago, Diamond Reynolds spoke to protesters gathered outside the Minnesota governor's mansion. She detailed what happened right before the recording began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND REYNOLDS, FIANCEE OF PHILANDO CASTILE: My boyfriend, Philando, went to reach for his identification, which he always kept in his right back side pocket. He began to let the officer know that he was concealed and carried. He was armed. As he begins to get himself back comfortable for constantly getting asked for identification and registration, the officer let off shots. Not one shot. Not two shots. Not three shots. Not four shots. But five shots! For no reason. How can one man put his hands in the air and reach for identification at the same time as he is telling you that he is armed. He was having difficulty. It was in the holster, in his pants, when they removed him from the car, as was his wallet in his back pocket.
They did not check for pulse on the scene of the crime. He seemed very frantic. He seemed very nervous. But he still had no right to bear arms on an innocent man in front of his girlfriend and her child.
They handcuffed us. They put us, me and my daughter, in a room until the DCA came and questioned me, where they separated myself and my daughter. I was treated like a criminal. I was treated like I was the one who did this.
I was not able to get to the actual shooting because I did not want that horrible act to be on social media because they already tried to remove it. I just wanted the truth. I wanted everyone across America and everyone in our city, our state, where we reside, to know that our people, police who are supposed to serve and protect us, are the ones that are killing us off.
I feel like I need justice. The officer at hand that did this should not be getting any type of pay!
The man was not only took from his family who loved him. He was took from the community. Many of you guys' kids probably go to the school at which he worked at. Many of you guys' kids knew this man. He was loving. He was caring. He stayed home. He went to work and he took care of his business.
It's unreal and it's definitely unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was Diamond Reynolds, the fiancee of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police just moments ago in front of the Minnesota governor's mansion.
I want to turn now to CNN's Rosa Flores, on the ground in St. Paul, Minnesota.
You saw that very moving press conference she gave there, Rosa. Rosa, you're going to show us now the final moments, sadly, of Philando Castile's life.