Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who replaced James Comey after he was fired by President Trump, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the topic of worldwide threats.
SEN. RICHARD M. BURR, R-N.C.: ... Director McCabe, did you ever hear Director Comey tell the president that he was not the subject of an investigation -- excuse me did you ever hear Director Comey tell the president he was not the subject of an investigation?
ACTING FBI DIRECTOR ANDREW MCCABE: (inaudible) sir I -- I can't...
BURR: Could you do your microphone please?
MCCABE: Rookie mistake, I'm sorry. Sir, I can't comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president.
General Stewart, you heard Director Coats state on everybody' behalf that there is an expected deterioration of conditions in Afghanistan, can you give us DIA's assessment of the situation today in Afghanistan and what would change that deterioration?
LIEUTENANT GENERAL VINCENT STEWART (USMC), DIRECTOR, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Thanks Mr. Chairman. I -- I pay close attention to the operations in Afghanistan. I make two trips there each year, one before the fighting season and one following the fighting season. That way I get, on the ground, my own personal assessment of how things are going. I was there about six weeks ago.
The NDSF two years into taking control of the security environment in the end has had mixed results in this past year. Those mixed results can be characterized -- can characterize the security environment as a stalemate and, left unchecked, that stalemate will deteriorate in the favor of the belligerents. So we have to do something very different than what we've been doing in the past.
Let me back out just a little bit and talk about the fact that the Taliban failed to meet any of their strategic objectives that they outlined during the last fighting season. They controlled no district centers, they were able to execute high visibility attacks which causes a psychological effect, that has a debilitating effect. They maintain some influence in the rural areas but they control none of the large district centers.
Having said that, the Afghan National Defense Security Forces did not meet their force generation objectives, they had some success in training of the force, they were able to manage a crisis better than they have in the past, they were able to deploy forces, but failed, in my opinion, to employ the ISR and the fire support to make them as effective on the battlefield as possible. Unless we change something where we introduce either U.S. forces, NATO forces that changes the balance of forces on the ground, changes the fighting outputs on the ground or add additional training and advising capability at lower levels than we do now; the situation will continue to deteriorate and we'll lose all the gains that we've invested in over the last several years.
So they've got to get more trainers below the core level, I believe -- not sure how far down. Or they'd have to get more personnel on the ground; generate greater forces, greater fire support, greater use of ISR or this will in fact deteriorate further.
BURR: Thank you, General.
Admiral Rogers, every aspect of our daily lives continues to become part of a traceable, trackable interaction -- interacting environment now known as the internet of things. In addition, artificial intelligence, or A.I., has increasingly enabled technology to become autonomous.
What is the I.C.'s current assessment of the ever changing capabilities of the internet of things and what it presents?
ADM. MICHAEL S. ROGERS (USN), DIRECTOR, NSA: So it represents both opportunity, but -- from an information assurance or computer network defense perspective, it represents great concern. Where the ability to harness literally millions of devices that were built for a very simple day to day activities suddenly can be tied together and focus and oriented to achieve a specific outcome. We've seen this with denial of service attempts against a couple significant companies on East Coast of the United States in the course of the last year.
This is going to be a trend in the future, it's part of the discussions we're having -- I'm -- I'm in the midst of having some discussions in the private sector with -- this is going to be a problem that's common to both of us. How can we work together to try to, number one, understand this technology and, number two, ask ourselves how do we ensure that it's not turned around, if you will, against us.
BURR: Thank you for that.
Admiral Rogers, I'll probably put this to you as well. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act authorizes the government to target only non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States for the purposes of acquiring foreign intelligence information. Section 702 cannot be used to target any person located inside the United States and the law prohibits the government from reverse targeting, that is targeting on non-U.S. person outside the United States specifically for the purpose of collecting the communications of a person inside the United States.
The I.C. uses FISA 702 collection authority to detect, identify and disrupt terrorist and other national security threats. How would you characterize 702 authority and its importance to the current intelligence collection platform overall? ROGERS: If we were to lose 702's authorities, we would be significantly degraded our ability to provide timely warning and insight as to what terrorist actors, nation states, criminal elements are doing that is of concern to our nation as well as our friends and allies. This 702 has provided us insight that is focused both on counterterrorism, but as well as counter proliferation, understanding what nation states are doing. It's given us tremendous insights in the computer network defense arena.
I would highlight much -- not all, much of what was in the intelligence community's assessment, for example, on the Russian efforts against the U.S. election process in 2016 was informed by knowledge we gained through 2702 authority.
BURR: Thank you for that.
ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I've got a couple questions that I -- hopefully will be -- only require yes or no answers.
SEN. MARK WARNER, D-VA.: Intelligence community assessment accurately characterized the extent of Russian activities in the 2016 election and its conclusion that Russian intelligence agencies were responsible for the hacking and leaking of information and using misinformation to influence our elections? Simple yes or no would suffice.
ROBERT CARDILLO, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I do. Yes, sir.
STEWART: Yes, Senator.
ROGERS: Yes I do.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE : Yes I do.
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CIA: Yes.
WARNER: And I guess the presumption there -- or the next presumption, I won't even ask this question is consequently that committee assess -- or that community assessment was unanimous and is not a piece of fake news or evidence of some other individual or nation state other than Russia. So I appreciate that again for the record.
I warned you Mr. McCabe I was going to have to get you on the record as well on this. Mr. McCabe for as long as you are Acting FBI Director do you commit to informing this committee of any effort to interfere with the FBI's ongoing investigation into links between Russia and the Trump campaign?
MCCABE: I absolutely do.
WARNER: Thank you so much for that. I think in light of what's happened in the last 48 hours it's critically important that we have that assurance and I hope you'll relay, at least from me to the extraordinary people that work at the FBI that this committee supports them, supports their efforts, support their professionalism and supports their independence.
MCCABE: I will sir, thank you.
WARNER: In light of the fact that we just saw French elections where it felt like deja vu all over again in terms of the release of a series of e-mails against Mr. Macron days before the election and the fact that this committee continues to investigate the type of tactics that Russia has used.
Where do we stand, as a country, of preparation to make sure this doesn't happen again in 2018 and 2020 -- where have we moved in terms of collaboration with state voting -- voter files, in terms of working more with the tech community, particularly the platform -- platform entities in terms of how we can better assure real news versus fake news, is there some general sense -- Director Coats I know you've only been in the job for a short period of time -- of how we're going to have a strategic effort? Because while it was Russia in 2016 other nation states could -- you know -- launch similar type assaults.
COATS: Well, we are -- we will continue to use all the assets that we have in terms of collection and analysis relative to what the influence has been and potentially could be in future. Russians have spread this across the globe -- interestingly enough I met with the Prime Minister of Montenegro the latest nation to join NATO, the number 29 nation, what was the main topic?
Russian interference in their political system. And so it does -- it sweeps across Europe and other places. It's clear though, the Russians have upped their game using social media and other opportunities that we -- in ways that we haven't seen before. So it's a great threat to our -- our democratic process and our job here is to provide the best intelligence we can to the policy makers to -- as they develop a strategy in terms of how to best reflect a response to this.
WARNER: Well one of the things I'm concerned about is, we've all expressed this concern but since this doesn't fall neatly into any particular agency's jurisdiction you know, who's -- who's taking the point on interacting with the platform companies like the Google, Facebook and Twitter, who's taking the point in terms of interacting DHS image in terms of state boards of election? How are we trying to ensure that our systems more secure, and if we can get a brief answer on that because I got one last question for Admiral Rogers.
COATS: Well, I think the -- the obviously, our office tasks and takes the point, but there's contribution from agencies across the I.C. We will -- I've asked Director Pompeo to address that and others that might want to address that also. But each of us -- each of the agencies to the extent that they can and have the capacity whether its NSA though SIGINT, whether it's NSA through human or other sources will provide information to us that we want to use as a basis to provide to our -- to our policymakers.
Relative to a grand strategy, I am not aware right now of any -- I think we're still assessing the impact. We have not put a grand strategy together, which would not be our purview, we would provide the basis of intelligence that would then be the foundation for what that strategy would be.
WARNER: My hope -- my hope would be that we need to be proactive in this. We don't want to be sitting here kind of looking back at it after 2018 election cycle. Last question, very briefly, Admiral Rogers do you have any doubt that the Russians were behind the intervention in the French elections?
ROGERS: I -- let me phrase it this way, we are aware of some Russian activity directed against the Russian -- excuse me, directed against the French election process. As I previously said before Congress earlier this week, we in fact reached out to our French counterparts to say, we have become aware of this activity, we want to make you aware, what are you seeing?
I'm not in a position to have looked at the breadth of the French infrastructure. So I'm -- I'm not really in a position to make a whole simple declaratory statement.
WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
BURR: Senator Rubio?
RUBIO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. McCabe, can you without going into the specific of any individual investigation, I think the American people want to know, has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped or negatively impacted any of the work, any investigation, or any ongoing projects at the Federal Bureau of Investigations?
MCCABE: As you know, Senator, the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions. So there has been no effort to impede our investigation today. Quite simply put sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution.
RUBIO: And this is for all the members of the committee, as has been widely reported, and people know this, Kaspersky Lab software is used by not hundreds of thousands, millions of Americans. To each of our witnesses I would just ask, would any of you be comfortable with the Kaspersky Lab software on your computers?
COATS: A resounding no, from me.
MCCABE: No, Senator.
ROGERS: No, sir.
STEWART: No, Senator.
CARDILLO: No, sir.
RUBIO: On the -- Director Pompeo, on Venezuela which was mentioned in Director Coat's statements, as all of you are probably well aware, armed civilian groups our colectivos, these militias in the street have been armed by the regime for purposes of defending, for lack of a better term, the regime from protesters.
We all are aware of the Maduro regime's cozy relationship with Hezbollah, with the FARC, which is a designated terrorist organization, and links to narco trafficking.
POMPEO: Among the weapons and stockpile of the military in Venezuela are igla-S, basically the Russian variant of our stinger missiles.
RUBIO: And Director Pompeo, if you could comment on the risk that I believe exists; that as these groups become more desperate -- potential even operate at some point outside the control of the Maduro regime, they're running around in the streets also in search of money and food and anything else that they want to get their hands on. The threat of any advanced weaponry, such as what I've just mentioned, being sold or transferred to the FARC, a terrorist organization; sold to drug cartels in Mexico, potentially; or even sold to terrorist organizations on the black market.
Is that a real threat? Is that something we should be cognizant of?
POMPEO: Senator, it is a real threat. As we have all seen, the situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, Maduro gets more desperate by the hour. The risk of these collectivos (ph) acting in a way that is not under his control increases as time goes on as well.
In a classified setting I'm happy to share with you a little bit more about the details of what we know. We have not seen any of those major arms transfers take place, we don't have any evidence that those have taken place to date. But those stockpiles exist not only -- not only in the Maduro regime, but other places as well. There are plenty of weapons running around in Venezuela. And this risk is incredibly real and serious and ultimate threat to South America and Central America in addition to just in Venezuela.
RUBIO: Staying in the Western Hemisphere for -- for a moment and -- and is the potential results with the director -- Director McCabe as well as you, Director Pompeo.
I continue to be concerned about the potential, and what I believe is the reality, of a concerted effort on the part of the Cuban government to recruit and unwittingly enlist Americans -- business executives and others, even local and state political leaders an effort to have them influence of U.S. policy making on Cuba. And particularly the lifting of the embargo. Would this be a tactic consistent with what we have seen in the past from other nation states, including the regime in Cuba?
POMPEO: I'll -- I'll let Mr. McCabe make a comment as well, but yes, of course. Frankly, this is consistent with what -- right, this is the -- the -- the attempt to interfere in United States is not limited to Russia. The Cubans have deep ties, it is in their deepest tradition to take American visitors and do their best influence of the way that is in adverse to U.S. interests.
MCCABE: Yes, sir. Fully agree, we share your concerns about that issue.
RUBIO: And my final question is on -- all this focus on Russia and what's happened in the past is that the opinion of all of you -- or those of -- you certainly all have insight on this. That even as we focus on 2016 and the efforts leading up to that election, efforts to influence policy making here in the United States vis-a-vis the Russian interests are ongoing that the Russians continue to use active measures; even at this moment, even on this day.
To try, through the use of multiple different ways, to influence the political debate and the decisions made in American politics; particularly as they pertain to Russia's interests around the world. In essence, these active measures is an ongoing threat, not simply something that happened in the past.
MCCABE: Yes, sir, that's right.
POMPEO: Senator, it's right. In some sense, though, we've got to put it in context, this has been going on for a long time. There's -- there's nothing new. Only the cost has been lessened, the cost of doing it.
COATS: I -- I would just add that the use of cyber and social media has significantly increased the impact and the capabilities that -- obviously this has been done for years and years. Even decades. But the ability they have to -- to use the interconnectedness and -- and all the -- all that that provides, that didn't provide before I -- they literally upped their game to the point where it's having a significant impact.
ROGERS: From my perspective I would just highlight cyber is enabling them to access information in massive quantities that weren't quite obtainable to the same level previously and that's just another tool in their attempt to acquire information, misuse of that information, manipulation, outright lies, inaccuracies at time.
But other times, actually dumping raw data which is -- as we also saw during this last presidential election cycle for us.
BURR: Senator Feinstein.
FEINSTEIN: Thanks very much Mr. Chairman.
Where there's obviously more than one threat to our country, I would argue that the greatest danger to the United States is North Korea and I am one of those who have been very worried and trying to follow this as close as possible.
In the statement for the record you state, and I quote, "North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs will continue to pose a serious threat to U.S. interest and to the security environment in East Asia in 2017." You go on to thank -- state, "Pyongyang is committed...
(UNKNOWN): Thank you.
FEINSTEIN: ... to developing a long range nuclear armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States." These assessments combined with North Korea's behavior, recent ballistic missile launches and proximity to U.S. forces and allies in Asia is deeply concerning.
For the purpose of this open hearing could each of you express the threat posed by North Korea in this public setting and then address, most importantly, some of the specific actions were taken -- we're taking as a nation? And some of it you may want to do in the closed hearing later.
COATS: I think we could get into greater detail in the closed hearing but it's clear that we have assessed this as a -- a very significant, potentially existential threat to the United States that has to be addressed. You're aware there's been considerable discussion among the policy makers with our providing intelligence with -- with the administration relative to steps moving forward.
General Mattis has taken a major role in this as well as our secretary of State and others. The interaction with the Chinese of late -- we think it can play a significant role in terms of how we deal with this. We have dedicated a very significant amount of our intelligence resources to North -- the issue of North Korea. And I think we'd look forward to going deeper into all of that in a classified session.
FEINSTEIN: Let me ask this, is it possible, in this hearing, to estimate when they will have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of taking a nuclear warhead?
COATS: I -- I think it would be best if safe that for the -- those kind of details for the closed session.
FEINSTEIN: Can you say in this session how effective China has been in stopping some of the testing?
POMPEO: Senator Feinstein let me -- let me try to answer that as best I can. I actually just returned from Korea I was there last week. I had chance to meet with our great soldiers, General Brooks and his team as well as the great soldiers of the Republic of Korea Army who are on the frontlines there, they're doing amazing work in a difficult condition. With respect to the Chinese, they have made efforts in a way that they have not made before.
POMPEO: In an effort to close down the trade that they have and putting pressure, diplomatic pressure as well, on the North Koreans. The intelligence suggests we're going to need more to shake free this terribly challenging problem. And -- and that they could do more. And they have the capacity to do more as well.
FEINSTEIN: Could you be specific? It's my -- have they entirely stopped cold? What -- to what degree have they reduced it? And how about oil and other commodities?
POMPEO: I'd prefer to defer the details of that to the classified setting, but there have been restrictions on coal that have been significant.
FEINSTEIN: Is there any other comment?
STEWART: If I -- if I could, Senator, North Korea has declared its intent. It's said it publicly, it produces propaganda images that shows their intent to develop intercontinental missile,s nuclear armed. What we've not seen them do is do a complete end-to-end test of an ICBM with a nuclear device.
In the closed session we can talk about how close they might be to doing that. But they're certainly unparalleled fast nuclear device, processing enough fissile material for nuclear warheads and developing a wide range of missile technology; short, intermediate, long range missile technology.
So they're going to put those two together at some point, but we have not seen them do that tested end-to-end; missile launch intercontinental range, miniaturization and survival of a reentry vehicle. But they're on that path and they're committed to doing.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
CARDILLO: I'd just add, Senator, on top of General Stewart's comments, that they are in a race. He's pushing very hard on the accelerator here. This whole panel is well aware of that and -- and we are doing everything in our power, and we can give you the details in closed, to make sure that we give you and our -- our customers the advantage to win that race.
FEINSTEIN: If I might just say, Mr. Cardillo, you've -- you've given us very good information, very solid information; it is much appreciated. I think at, you know, it is time for the American people to begin to understand that, as a director said, we do in fact have an existential threat in the Pacific Ocean and we need to come to grips with it.
BURR: Senator Blunt.
BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Director Coats, let me join everybody else in welcoming you back to the committee, this time on the other side of the -- of the hearing at table. But pleased, along with others, that you take this responsibility.
It's my understanding, I want to talk just a little bit about the to executive orders on of vetting that the president has been challenged on in court. My understanding is you're -- as the DNI involved in that vetting -- in that process, is that right? The screening process, is that something that reports up through you?
COATS: You're talking about the classification process?
BLUNT: Yes -- well, I'm talking about the extreme vetting where the president's issued -- the first executive order was January 27th where the president's order said that we'd suspend refugee admissions from certain countries for 90 days pending a review.
There's also 120 days mentioned in that order. And since were beyond 90 days and approaching the 120 days, my real question is are we -- in spite of what's happening outside of the organization, are we continuing pursue that timeline and are we about to get to the 120 days of having that review period behind us?
COATS: I would like to take that question and get back to you with the specifics relative to the days away,what is been done to this particular date and are we on -- on target. Obviously, this is -- this is going forward, I don't have details in front of me right now, but I'd be happy to get that information for you.
BLUNT: Good, I'd be interested in that, I'd be very concerned frankly, if we're now over 100, close to 120 into that timeframe to find out the 120 days didn't get the job done because we were waiting to figure out how the order could be properly enforced. And so I'd be interested in that. On the cyber front, Director Cardillo, I know among other things, your organization has conducted what you've called a hackathon or at least have been called hackathons. What has that done in terms of bringing other people into the discussion of how we protect ourselves better from these cyber attacks?
CARDILLO: Sure, thank you, Senator. So we're quite proud at NGA of our history of support to the community and to you. But through predominantly historically closed systems, government owned systems, et cetera, as the committee's already discussed and the panel's responded clearly, the -- the high-tech reality of our world, the interconnectedness of the internet, et cetera.
So what we're trying to do is take that historic success of our expertise and our experience and then engage with that community in a way that we can better leverage our data, in a way to inform and warn you. And so I'm trying to tap into the agility and the innovation of that community. We use these hackathons to put out challenge questions in which we can engage with industry and academic in a way that -- that'll enable us to do our job better.
BLUNT: Let me ask one more question, we had a -- we had a witness before this committee on March the 30th in an open hearing, Clint Watts, who observed that he said, quote, "The intelligence community is very biased against open source information," that ends his quote. I may come to you on that too, Director Pompeo. But in terms of geospatial, what -- what are you doing there with open source information?
CARDILLO: We're -- we're engaging, as Admiral Rogers mentioned though there -- you know, there's an upside to this connectedness and the fact that -- that the commercial market and the commercial imagery market is getting into a business that was prior a government-only entity has great advantage and we seek to build on that and take -- take advantage of those developments. We also need to go in eyes wide open and realize that there is a risk.
So I don't have a bias. I have an awareness and appreciation for this open development and innovation and my commitment is to smartly engage with it, to make sure that we -- we use the best of it while we're aware that there -- there is a risk as we do so.
BLUNT: Director Pompeo, do you think that was a fair criticism that the intelligence community is biased against using open source information?
POMPEO: Several I think historically, that may well have been true. I don't think that's the case today. We have an enormous open- source enterprise that does its best to stay up with world class and information management get information that is not -- not stolen secrets, but open-source information to the right place at the right time to help inform the intelligence that would provide to you and to our other customers. So today, I would -- I would say that statement is inaccurate.
BLUNT: Thank you, Director. Thank you, Chairman.
BURR: Senator Cornyn?
CORNYN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me ask -- let me highlight one issue and then ask a question, Director Coats, about another issue I'd invite comment from any one who has something they want to offer. I've become increasingly concerned about foreign governments hiring lobbyists here in Washington. And unbeknownst to members of Congress, actually lobbing Congress to enact policies which may be contrary to the best interest of the American people, of course the Foreign Agent Registration Act provides some level of transparency for that but I just highlight that issue and we can come back to it at a later time because I want to ask you about another topic as well.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, provides a very important role in determining whether there are technology transfers from the United States to foreign governments and I'm -- was happy to see Director Coats, your comments on page four of your written statement specifically regarding China's increasing effort to use investment as a way to improve its technological capabilities.
China we've seen continues to use an aggressive campaign to vacuum up advanced U.S. technology however and whenever it can, whether stealing it through cyber or buying it in the open market. Do you feel like the current CFIUS process adequately protects against this threat vector and are all elements of the U.S. government cognizant of these vulnerabilities?
COATS: I can't speak to how many agents of -- of the U.S. government are as cognizant as perhaps we should be but I certainly think that, given China's aggressive approach relative to information gathering and -- and all the things that you mentioned merits a -- a review of CFIUS in terms of whether or not it is -- needs to have some changes or innovations to -- to address the aggressive -- aggressive Chinese actions not just against or companies, but across the world.
They -- they clearly have a strategy through their investments, they've started a major investment bank -- you name a park of the world Chinese probably are -- are there looking to put investments in. We've seen the situation in Djibouti where they're also adding military capability to their investment, strategic area for -- on the Horn of Africa there that -- that you wouldn't necessarily expect. But they're active in Africa, Northern Africa, they're active across the world.
Their one belt, one road process opens -- opens their trade and -- and what other interest they have to the Indian Ocean in -- and a different way to address nations that they've had difficulty connecting with. So it's a -- it's clearly an issue that we ought to take a look at.
CORNYN: Thank you. POMPEO: Senator -- Senator Cornyn if I might...
CORNYN: Go ahead.
POMPEO: ... just add one comment.
POMPEO: I'm sorry -- two quick comments.
One on CFIUS, you know it mostly deals with changing control transactions, purchases. There are many other ways one could invest in an entity here in the United States and exert significant control over that entity, I think that ought to be looked at.
And then second and apart from CFIUS there are many vectors, you mentioned several. Another places are educational institutions where there are many folks coming here, some of who are coming here in good faith to learn but others who are being sent here with less noble undertakings and missions.
CORNYN: Thank you.
ROGERS: And the only additional comment I was going to make was, it is clear as we watch China and other nations they are gaining greater insights as to our CFIUS processes, the criteria that we use that tend to shape our decision process. And so I think that's also an issue of concern that we're aware of here.
CORNYN: Thank you. I look forward to visiting with you in the closed session later on.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
BURR: Senator Wyden.
WYDEN: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, it's fair to say I disagreed with Director Comey as much as anyone in this room but the timing of this firing is wrong to anyone with a semblance of ethics. Director Comey should be here this morning testifying to the American people about where the investigation he's been running stands.
At our public hearing in January where he refused to discuss his investigation into connections between Russia and Trump associates I stated my fear that if the information didn't come out before inauguration day it might never come out. With all the recent talk in recent weeks about whether there is evidence of collusion, I fear some colleagues have forgotten that Donald Trump urged the Russians to hack his opponents. He also said repeatedly that he loved WikiLeaks.
So the question is not whether Donald Trump actively encouraged the Russians and WikiLeaks to attack our democracy, he did; that is an established fact. The only question is whether he or someone associated with him coordinated with the Russians.
Now, Mr. McCabe, the president's letter to Director Comey asserted that on three separate occasions the director informed him that he was not under investigations. Would it have been wrong for the director to inform him he was not under investigations? Yes or no?
MCCABE: Sir, I'm not going to comment on any conversations that the director may have had with the president...
WYDEN: I didn't ask that. Would it have been wrong for the director to inform him he was not under investigation? That's not about conversations, that's yes or no answer.
MCCABE: As you know, Senator. We typically do not answer that question. I will not comment on whether or not the director and the president of the United States had that conversation.
WYDEN: Will you refrain from these kinds of alleged updates to the president or anyone else in the White House on the status of the investigation?
MCCABE: I will.
WYDEN: Thank you.
Director Pompeo, one of the few key unanswered questions is why the president didn't fire Michael Flynn after Acting Attorney General Yates warned the White House that he could be blackmailed by the Russians. Director Pompeo, did you know about the acting attorney general's warnings to the White House or were you aware of the concerns behind the warning?
POMPEO: I -- I don't have any comment on that.
WYDEN: Well, were you aware of the concerns behind the warning? I mean, this is a global threat. This is a global threat question, this is a global threat hearing. Were you...
POMPEO: Tell me...
WYDEN: Were you aware?
POMPEO: Senator, tell me what global threat it is you're concerned with, please. I'm not sure I understand the question.
WYDEN: Well, the possibility of blackmail. I mean, blackmail by a influential military official, that has real ramifications for the global threat. So this is not about a policy implication, this is about the national security advisor being vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. And the American people deserve to know whether in these extraordinary circumstances the CIA kept them safe.
POMPEO: Yes, sir, the CIA's kept America safe. And...
POMPEO: And the people at the Central Intelligence Agency are committed to that and will remain committed to that. And we will...
POMPEO: ... do that in the face of...
WYDEN: You won't answer the question...
POMPEO: We will do that in the face of political challenges that come from any direction, Senator.
WYDEN: But, you will not answer the question of whether or not you were aware of the concerns behind the Yates warning.
POMPEO: Sir, I don't know exactly what you're referring to with the Yates warning, I -- I -- I wasn't part of any of those conversations. I -- I... (CROSSTALK)
WYDEN: The Yates warning was...
POMPEO: ... I have no first hand information with respect to the warning that was given.
POMPEO: She didn't make that warning to me. I -- I can't -- I can't answer that question, Senator...
POMPEO: ... as much as I would like to.
Director Coats, how concerned are you that a Russian government oil company, run by a Putin crony could end up owning a significant percentage of U.S. oil refining capacity and what are you advising the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States about this?
COATS: I don't have specific information relative to that. I think that's something that potentially, we could provide intelligence on in terms of what this -- what situation might be, but...
WYDEN: I'd like you to furnace that in writing. Let me see if I can get one other question in, there have been mountains of press stories with allegations about financial connections between Russia and Trump and his associates. The matters are directly relevant to the FBI and my question is, when it comes to illicit Russian money and in particular, it's potential to be laundered on its way to the United States, what should the committee be most concerned about?
We hear stories about Deutsche Bank, Bank of Cypress, Shell companies in Moldova, the British Virgin Islands. I'd like to get your sense because I'm over my time. Director McCabe, what you we most -- be most concerned about with respect to illicit Russian money and its potential to be laundered on its way the United States?
MCCABE: Certainly sir. So as you know, I am not in the position to be able to speak about specific investigations and certainly not in this setting. However, I will confirm for you that those are issues that concern us greatly.
They have traditionally and they do even more so today, as it becomes easier to conceal the origin and the -- and the track and the destination of purpose of illicit money flows, as the exchange of information becomes more clouded in encryption and then more obtuse, it becomes harder and harder to get to the bottom of those investigations. That would shed light on those issues.
WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. BURR: Senator Risch?
RISCH: Thank you very much. Gentlemen, I -- the purpose of this hearing as the chairman expressed is to give the American people some insight into what we all do, which they don't see pretty much at all. And so I think what I want to do is I want to make an observation and then I want to get your take on it, anybody who wants to volunteer. And I'm going to start with you Director Coats, to volunteer.
My -- I have been -- I've been on this committee all the time I've been here in the Senate and all through the last administration. And I have been greatly impressed by the current administrations hitting the ground running during the first hundred days, as far as their engagement on intelligence matters and their engagement with foreign countries. The national media here is focused on domestic issues which is of great interest to the American people be it healthcare, be it personnel issues in the government.
And they don't -- the -- the media isn't as focused on this administrations fast, and in my judgment, robust engagement with the intelligence communities around the world and with other governments. And my impression is that it's good and it is aggressive. And I want -- I'd like you're -- I'd like your impression of where we're going. Almost all of you had real engagement in the last administration and all the administrations are different. So Director Coats, you want to take that on to start with?
COATS: I'd be happy to start with that, I think most presidents that come into office come with an agenda in mind in terms of what issues they'd like to pursue, many of them issues that effect -- domestic issues that affect infrastructure and education and a number of things only to find that this is dangerous world, that the United States -- that the threats that exist out there need to be -- be given attention to.
This president, who I think the perception was not interested in that, I think Director Pompeo and I can certify the fact that we have spent far more hours in the Oval Office than we anticipated. The president is a voracious consumer of information and asking questions and asking us to provide intelligence. I -- we are both part of a process run through the national security council, General McMaster, all through the deputy's committees and the principal's committees consuming hours and hours of time looking at the threats, how do we address those threats, what is the intelligence that tells us -- that informs the policy makers in terms of how they put a strategy in place.
And so what I initially thought would be a one or two time a week, 10 to 15 minute quick brief, has turned into an everyday, sometimes exceeding 45 minutes to an hour or more just in briefing the president. We have -- I have brought along several of our directors to come and show the president what their agencies do and how important it is the info -- that the information they provide how that -- for the basis of making policy decisions.
I'd like to turn to my CIA colleague to get -- let him give you, and others, to give you their impression.
RISCH: I appreciate that. We're almost out of time but I did -- Director Pompeo you kind of sit in the same spot we all sit in through the last several years and I kind of like your observations along the line of Director Coats, what you feel about the matter?
POMPEO: Yeah, I think Director Coats had it right. He and I spend time with the president everyday, briefing him with the most urgent intelligence matters that are presented to us as -- in our roles. He asks good, hard questions. Make us go make sure we're doing our work in the right way.
Second, you asked about engagement in the world. This administration has reentered the battle space in places the administration -- the previous administration was completely absent. You all travel some too...
POMPEO: ... you will hear that when you go travel. I've now taken two trips to places and they welcome American leadership. They're not looking for American soldiers, they're not looking for American boots on the ground, they're looking for American leadership around the globe and this president has reentered that space in a way that I think will serve America's interest very well.
RISCH: Yeah I -- I couldn't agree more and we -- we deal with them not only overseas but they come here, as you know, regularly.
POMPEO: Yes sir.
RISCH: And the fact that the president has pulled the trigger twice as he has in -- in the first 100 days and -- and done it in a fashion that didn't start a world war and -- and was watched by both our friends and our enemies has made a significant and a huge difference as far as our standing in the world. My time's up. Thank you very much Mr. Chair.
WARNER: Thank you Senator.
HEINRICH: Director McCabe you -- you obviously have several decades of law enforcement experience, is it -- is it your experience that people who are innocent of wrong doing typically need to be reassured that they're not the subject of an investigation?
MCCABE: No sir.
HEINRICH: And I ask that because I'm still trying to make heads or tails of the dismissal letter from -- earlier this week from the president where he writes, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation." And I'm still trying to figure out why that would even make it into a dismissal letter. But let me go to something a little more direct.
Director, has anyone in the White House spoken to you directly about the Russia investigation?
MCCABE: No, sir.
HEINRICH: Let me -- when -- when did you last meet with the president, Director McCabe?
MCCABE: I don't think I -- I'm in...
HEINRICH: Was it earlier this week?
MCCABE: ... the position to comment on that. I have met with the president this week, but I really don't want to go into the details of that.
HEINRICH: OK. But Russia did not come up?
MCCABE: That's correct, it did not.
HEINRICH: OK, thank you. We've heard in the news that -- that -- claims that Director Comey had -- had lost the confidence of rank and file FBI employees. You've been there for 21 years, in your opinion is it accurate that the rank and file no longer supported Director Comey?
MCCABE: No, sir, that is not accurate. I can tell you, sir, that I worked very, very closely with Director Comey. From the moment he started at the FBI I was his executive assistant director of national security at that time and I worked for him running the Washington field office. And of course I've served as deputy for the last year.
MCCABE: I can tell you that I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity and it has been the greatest privilege and honor in my professional life to work with him. I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does until this day.
We are a large organization, we are 36,500 people across this country, across this globe. We have a diversity of opinions about many things, but I can confidently tell you that the majority -- the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey.
HEINRICH: Thank you for your candor. Do you feel like you have the adequate resources for the existing investigations that the -- that the bureau is invested in right now to -- to follow them wherever they may lead?
MCCABE: Sir, if you're referring to the Russia investigation, I do. I believe we have the adequate resources to do it and I know that we have resourced that investigation adequately. If you're referring to the many constantly multiplying counter-intelligence threats that we face across the spectrum, they get bigger and more challenging every day and resources become an issue over time.
MCCABE: But in terms of that investigation, sir, I can -- I can assure you we are covered.
HEINRICH: Thank you.
Director Coats, welcome back. Would you agree that it is a national security risk to provide classified information to an individual who has been compromised by a foreign government as a broad matter.
COATS: As a broad matter, yes.
HEINRICH: If the attorney general came to you and said one of your employees was compromised what -- what sort of action would you take?
COATS: I would take the action as prescribed in our procedures relative to how we report this ad how it's -- how it is processed. I mean, it's a serious -- serious issue Our -- our -- I would be consulting with our legal counsel and consulting with our inspector general and others as to how -- how best to proceed with this, but obviously we will take action.
HEINRICH: Would -- would one of the options be dismissal, obviously?
COATS: Very potentially could be dismissal, yes.
HEINRICH: OK, thank you Director.
BURR: Senator Collins?
COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Vice Chairman.
Mr. McCabe, is the agent who is in charge of this very important investigation into Russian attempts to influence our election last fall still in charge?
MCCABE: I mean we have many agents involved in the investigation at many levels so I'm not who you're referring to.
COLLINS: The lead agent overseeing the investigation.
MCCABE: Certainly, almost all of the agents involved in the investigation are still in their positions.
COLLINS: So has there been any curtailment of the FBI's activities in this important investigation since Director Comey was fired?
MCCABE: Ma'am, we don't curtail our activities. As you know, has the -- are people experiencing questions and are reacting to the developments this week? Absolutely.
COLLINS: Does that get in the way of our ability to pursue this or any other investigation?
MCCABE: No ma'am, we continue to focus on our mission and get that job done.
COLLINS: I want to follow up on a question of resources that Senator Heinrich asked your opinion on. Press reports yesterday indicated that Director Comey requested additional resources from the Justice Department for the bureau's ongoing investigation into Russian active measures. Are you aware that request? Can you confirm that that request was in fact made?
MCCABE: I cannot confirm that request was made. As you know ma'am, when we need resources, we make those requests here. So I -- I don't -- I'm not aware of that request and it's not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources.
That said, we don't typically request resources for an individual case. And as I mentioned, I strongly believe that the Russian investigation is adequately resourced. COLLINS: You've also been asked a question about target letters. Now, it's my understanding that when an individual is the target of an investigation, at some point, a letter is sent out notifying a individual that he is a target, is that correct?
MCCABE: No ma'am, I -- I don't believe that's correct.
COLLINS: OK. So before there is going to be an indictment, there is not a target letter sent out by the Justice Department?
MCCABE: Not that I'm aware of.
COLLINS: OK that's contrary to my -- my understanding, but let me ask you the reverse.
MCCABE: Again, I'm looking at it from the perspective of the investigators. So that's not part of our normal case investigative practice.
COLLINS: That would be the Justice Department, though. The Justice Department...
MCCABE: I see, I see...
COLLINS: I'm -- I'm asking you, isn't it standard practice when someone is the target of an investigation and is perhaps on the verge of being indicted that the Justice Department sends that individual what is known as a target letter?
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am I'm going have to defer that question to the Department of Justice.
COLLINS: Well, let me ask you the -- the flip side of that and perhaps you don't know the answer to this question but is it standard practice for the FBI to inform someone that they are not a target of an investigation?
MCCABE: It is not.
COLLINS: So it would be unusual and not standard practice for there -- it -- for there to have been a notification from the FBI director to President Trump or anyone else involved in this investigation, informing him or her that that individual I not a target, is that correct?
MCCABE: Again ma'am, I'm not going to comment on what Director Comey may or may not have done.
COLLINS: I -- I'm not asking you to comment on the facts of the case, I'm just trying to figure out what's standard practice and what's not.
MCCABE: Yes ma'am. I'm not aware of that being a standard practice.
COLLINS: Admiral Rogers, I want to follow up on Senator Warner's question to you about the attempted interference in the French...
COLLINS: ... election. Some researchers, including the cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint claim that APT28 is the group that was behind the stealing of the -- and the leaking of the information about the president elect of France, the FBI and DHS have publicly tied APT28 to Russian intelligence services in the joint analysis report last year after the group's involvement in stealing data that was leaked in the run up to the U.S. elections in November.
Is the I.C. in a position to attribute the stealing and the leaking that took place prior to the French election to be the result of activities by this group, which is linked to Russian cyber activity?
ROGERS: Again ma'am, right now I don't think I have a complete picture of all the activity associated with France but as I have said publicly, both today and previously, we are aware of specific Russian activity directed against the French election cycle in the course -- particularly in the last few weeks.
To the point where we felt it was important enough we actually reached out to our French counterparts to inform them and make sure they awareness of what we were aware of and also to ask them, is there something we are missing that you are seeing?
COLLINS: Thank you.
BURR: Senator King.
KING: Mr. McCabe, thank you for being here today under somewhat difficult circumstances, we appreciate your candor in your testimony.
On March 20th, Director Comey -- then Director Comey testified to the House of Representative, "I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating 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 Russian efforts.
As with any counter intelligence investigation this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed." Is that statement still accurate?
MCCABE: Yes sir, it is.
KING: And how many agents are assigned to this project? How many -- or personnel generally with the FBI, roughly?
MCCABE: Yeah, sorry I can't really answer those sorts of questions in this forum.
KING: Well, yesterday a White House press spokesman said that this is one of the smallest things on the plate of the FBI, is that an accurate statement?
MCCABE: It is...
KING: Is this a small investigation in relation to all -- to all the other work that you're doing?
MCCABE: Sir, we consider it to be a highly significant investigation.
KING: So you would not characterize it as one of the smallest things you're engaged in?
MCCABE: I would not.
KING: Thank you.
Let me change the subject briefly. We're -- we've been talking about Russia and -- and their involvement in this election. One of the issues of concern to me, and perhaps I can direct this to -- well, I'll direct it to anybody in the panel. The allegation of Russian involvement in our electoral systems, is that an issue that is of concern and what do we know about that? And is that being up followed up on by this investigation.
Mr. McCabe, is that part of your investigation? No I'm -- I'm not talking about the presidential election, I'm talking about state level election infrastructure.
MCCABE: Yes, sir. So obviously not discussing any specific investigation in detail. The -- the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. democratic process is one that causes us great concern. And quite frankly, it's something we've spent a lot of time working on over the past several months. And to reflect comments that were made in response to an earlier question that Director Coats handled, I think part of that process is to understand the inclinations of our foreign adversaries to interfere in those areas.
So we've seen this once, we are better positioned to see it the next time. We're able to improve not only our coordination with -- primarily through the Department of Homeland -- through DHS, their -- their expansive network and to the state and local election infrastructure. But to interact with those folks to defend against ; whether it's cyber attacks or any sort of influence driven interactions.
KING: Thank you, I think that's a very important part of this issue.
Admiral Rogers, yesterday a camera crew from TAS (ph) was allowed into the Oval Office. There was not any American press allowed, was there any consultation with you with regard to that action in terms of the risk of some kind of cyber penetration or communications in that incident?
KING: Were you -- you were -- your agency wasn't consulted in any way?
ROGERS: Not that I'm aware of. I wouldn't expect that to automatically be the case; but no, not that I'm aware of.
KING: Did it raise any concerns when you saw those pictures that those cameramen and crew were in the Oval Office without....
ROGERS: I'll be honest, I wasn't aware of where the imaged came from.
KING: All right, thank you.
Mr. Coats -- Director Coats, you're -- you're -- you lead the intelligence community. Were you consulted at all with regard to the firing of Director Comey?
COATS: I was not.
KING: So you had no -- there were no discussions with you even though the FBI's an important part of the intelligence community?
COATS: There were no discussions.
KING: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
BURR: Thank you Senator King.
LANKFORD: Thank you, let me just run through some quick questions on this. Director McCabe, thanks for being here as well.
Let me hit some high points of some of the things I've heard already, just to be able to confirm. You have the resources you need for the Russia investigation, is that correct?
MCCABE: Sir, we believe it's adequately resourced...
LANKFORD: OK, so there's not limitations on resources, you have what you need? The -- the actions about Jim Comey and his release has not curtailed the investigation from the FBI, it's still moving forward?
MCCABE: The investigation will move forward, absolutely.
LANKFORD: No agents have been removed that are the ongoing career folks that are doing the investigation?
MCCABE: No, sir.
LANKFORD: Is it your impression at this point that the FBI is unable to complete the investigation in a fair and expeditious way because of the removal of Jim Comey?
MCCABE: It is my opinion and belief that the FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely.
LANKFORD: Do you need somebody to take this away from you and somebody else to do?
MCCABE: No sir.
LANKFORD: OK. Let me ask you a separate question.
As I go through the report and tracking through the worldwide threats that was put out, that Director Coats put out, there's a section on it in narcotics and the movement of illegal drugs. And there's a section on it about tens of thousands of illegal pharmacies that are online at this point distributing narcotics. And 18 to 20 of those go online a day, still.
Can you help me understand a little more about what the FBI is doing to be able to interdict, to be able to engage, how many of those are American, how many of those are international and what we can do to be able to stop the movement of narcotics through our mail system?
MCCABE: Yes, yes, sir so -- it's a great question and one that we spend a great deal of time on. As you know, the traffic of illegal narcotics is something that we, along with our partners at the DEA and other law and federal, state and local law enforcement partners are focused on for many years, we've had great success.
But the issue, the threat continues to change, continues to develop and -- and confront us in new ways. The profusion of illegal online pharmacies is certainly one of those ways. And quite frankly, it's something that we are learning more about, spending more time on every day.
LANKFORD: Well, I'm glad that it is highlighted in the report with tens of thousands of these pharmacies that are out there in the distribution systems, it's no longer a drug dealer on the corner anymore. They just deliver it to your house now and there's a whole different set of issues that we aggressively need to address on this.
Director Coats, I have a -- I have a question for you. We've talked often about a cyber doctrine and its one of the issues that keeps being raised that other nations and nation states and -- and actors need to understand what our boundaries are and how we're going to do this. This seems to be talked to death. And everyone that I raise it with says yes, it needs to occur.
What I need to know is, who has the ball on leading out to make sure a year from now, we're not talking about we need to get a cyber doctrine. I guess specifically, when we do this hearing next year, who should we hold accountable if we don't have a cyber doctrine?
COATS: Well, that's a very good question. I think all of us would agree we need a cyber doctrine because clearly it is one of the top, if not the number one threat today that we're dealing with. As you know, the president passed an effort under the direction of former Mayor Giuliani with this. That has not led to a conclusion at this particular point in time. I don't have the details on that. I would agree with you, however, that this is a threat that our policymakers need to -- need to address. I'm hoping that when we are here next year, we will have a solid response to your question, but at this particular point in time, frankly given the proliferation of issues that we're trying to deal with, it's almost overwhelming...
LANKFORD: And it is and that -- and that's getting our hands to all of them. They are just so many things that are flying around, this keeps getting left and it has been for years, been left. And what we need to try to figure out is how do we actually find out who's got the ball and who do we hold to account to be able to help us work through this or is this something that we need to be able to work through?
I noticed as I read through your report, which was excellent by the way on all the worldwide threats, every single section of your report, every section of it had a section on Iran. Every part of that, that there's a threat and in fact, in one section of it, you wrote Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism. Whether it was cyber, whether it is active terrorism, whether it is involvement in every different nefarious action, it seems to always circle back to Iran at some point, in some way of facilitating this.
So this is -- this is one of those areas that we've got to be able to figure out how to be able to deal with. Just in a broad question on it and maybe General Stewart you'd be the right one to be able to deal with this but anyone could -- could answer this. My concern is, is that when we're dealing with Syria, the focus seems to be on Russia in Syria or ISIS in Syria and we're losing track of the movement of Iran through Iraq into Syria, we're losing track of what's happening in Yemen and other places.
Who -- what is your perception of Iran's goal through the Middle East? Is their goal higher for Yemen or is it higher going into Syria and into Iraq and to be able to occupy and stay? And is the perception that the Russians want to remain there or Iran wants to remain in Syria and be the dominant force there?
STEWART: Clearly Iran views themselves as the regional -- the dominant regional power. They will continue to use militia forces and asymmetric forces to achieve the aims of controlling large parts of the region.
If they can't control them physically they tend to influence them politically. Syria becomes a very key strategic point for them, it allows them to leverage the Syrian force, Lebanese and Lebanese Hezbollah and move capability and forces across the region. They will be in competition, at some point, with Russia.
Russia views themselves as the regional power, at least the dominant regional power today. I'm not sure that Russian and Iran's influence will remain aligned in the long term. In the near term they're very closely aligned as it relates to propping up and securing the Syrian regime.
LANKFORD: Thank you. BURR: Senator Manchin.
MANCHIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Thank all of you for being here, I really appreciate it and I know that, Mr. McCabe, you seem to be of great interest of being here. And we're going to look forward to really from hearing from all of you all in a closed hearing this afternoon which I think that we'll able to get into more detail. So I appreciate that.
I just one question for Mr. McCabe it's basically the morale of the agency, the FBI agency and the morale basically starting back from July 5th to July 7th, October 28th, November 6th and election day -- did you all ever think you'd be embroiled in an election such as this and did -- what did it do to the morale?
MCCABE: Well, I -- I don't know that anyone envisioned exactly the way these things would develop. You know, as I said earlier Senator, we are a -- a large organization. We are -- we have a lot of diversity of opinions and -- and viewpoints on things. We are also a fiercely independent group.
MANCHIN: I'm just saying that basically, before July 5th, before the first testimony that basically Director Comey got involved in, prior to that, did you see a change in the morale? Just yes or no -- yes a change or more anxious, more concern?
MCCABE: I think morale has always been good, however we had -- there were folks within our agency who were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case and some of those folks were very vocal about that -- those concerns.
MANCHIN: I'm sure we'll have more questions in the closed hearing, sir but let me say to the rest of you all, we talked about Kaspersky, the lab, KL Lab. Do you all have -- has it risen to your level being the head of all of our intelligence agencies and people that mostly concerned about the security of our country of having a Russian connection in a lab as far outreaching as KL Labs?
Has it come with your IT people coming to you or have you gone directly to them making sure that you have no interaction with KL or any of the contractors you do business with? Just down the line there, Mr. Cardillo?
CARDILLO: Well, we count on the expertise of Admiral Rogers and the FBI to protect our systems and so I value...
MANCHIN: ...But you have I -- you have IT people, right?
MANCHIN: Have you talked to the IT people? Has it come to your concern that there might be a problem?
CARDILLO: I'm aware of the Kaspersky Lab challenge and/or threat.
MANCHIN: Let me tell you, it's more of a challenge -- more than a challenge, sir and I would hope that -- I'll go down the line but I hope that all of you -- we are very much concerned about this, very much concerned about security of our country watching (ph) their involvement.
CARDILLO: We share that.
STEWART: We are tracking Kaspersky and their software. There is as well as I know, and I've checked this recently, no Kaspersky software on our networks.
MANCHIN: Any contractors? STEWART: Now, the contractor piece might be a little bit harder to define but at this point we see no connection to Kaspersky and contractors supporting (ph)...
MANCHIN: ...Admiral Rogers?
ROGERS: I'm personally aware and involved with the director on the national security issues and the Kaspersky Lab issue, yes sir.
COATS: It wasn't that long ago I was sitting up there talking -- raising issues about Kaspersky and its position here. And that continues in this new job.
POMPEO: It has risen to the director of the CIA as well, Senator Manchin.
(UNKNOWN): He's very concerned about it, sir, and we are focused on it closely.
MANCHIN: Only thing I would ask all of you, if you can give us a report back if you've swept all of your contractors to make sure they understand the certainty you have, concern that you have about this and making sure that they can verify to you all that they're not involved whatsoever with any Kaspersky's hardware. I'm going to switch to a couple different things because of national security.
But you know, the bottom gangs that we have in the United States, and I know -- we don't talk about them much. And when you talk about you have MS-13, the Crips, you've got Hells Angels, Aryan Brotherhood, it goes on and on and on, it's quite a few. What is -- what are we doing and what is it to your level -- has it been brought to your level the concern we have with these gangs within our country, really every part of our country?
Anybody on the gangland?
MCCABE: Yes sir. So we spend a lot of time talking about that at the FBI. It's one of our highest priorities...
MANCHIN: Did the resources go out to each one of these because they're interspersed over the country?
MCCABE: We do, sir. We have been focused on the gang threat for many years. It -- like -- much like the online pharmacy threat. It continues to change and develop harried we think it's likely a -- having an impact on elevated violent crime rates across the country, so we're spending a lot of time focused on that.
MANCHIN: One -- One last question real quick, my time is running out, is basically the question is on rare earth elements. I'm understanding ever since the closure of the California -- which is the Mountain Pass mine, which was the last mine that we had that was giving a domestic source of restless of elements, that's been closed, and now we're 100 percent dependent of foreign -- on basically foreign purchases of rare earth elements for what we need every day to run this country. We don't do any of it in this country anymore. And most of it comes from china. Do any of you have a concern about that?
POMPEO: So, Senator Manchin (ph), I'll speak to that. Yes, we're concerned. We are -- we do a lot of work to figure out where they are and help the intelligence community -- help the policy community shape policy surrounding how we ought to treat this issue. But it's a very -- it's a very real concern, and it obviously depends on the elements. But we use them for important technologies to keep us all safe, those very rare earth elements.
MANCHIN: Let me just say, that I -- its been told to me that the department of defense needs about 800 tons of rare earth elements per year, and I would want you to make sure you know, West Virginia has the opportunity to provide this country with the rare earth elements it has because of our mining process and all of that we have extract through the mining process. We are happy to come to aid, sir.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, senator.
BURR: Thank you, Senator Manchin. Before I turn to Senator Cotton, can I say for the members, the vice chair and I have to step out for a meeting that we can't push off. I would ask Senator Harris, Senator Cotton, to conclude their first-round questions. Any member that seeks additional questions will be recognized by the chair. I would ask you to limit those questions, if you can, but the chair will ask -- will say we're not going over five minutes for the second round of questions.
It is my hope we will give sufficient time to these six gentlemen to have nutrition before we reconvene at 1:30 into 219. It's my understanding that there will be a vote, circa 2:00, and we will decide exactly how we handle that. But the closed hearings, we like to make sure nobody misses anything, so we -- we might slightly adjust what we are doing.
WYDEN: Mr. Chairman, just and inquiry, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness. So, in your departure, as we work through it, it's still acceptable to begin another five-minute round for those...
BURR: Up to five minutes.
WYDEN: Thank you.
BURR: Senator Cotton.
COTTON: Inmates are running the asylum.
COTTON: So, I think everyone in this room and most Americans have come to appreciate the aggressiveness with which would Russia uses active measures or covert influence operations, propaganda, call them what you will, as your agencies assess they did in 2016 and in hacking into those e-mails and releasing them as news reports suggest they did. In the French election last week -- that's one reason why I sought to revive the Russian active measures working group in the FY'17 Intelligence Authorization Act.
These activities that will go far beyond elections, I think, as most of our witnesses know. former director of the CIA, Bob Gates, in his memoir "From the Shadows," detailed soviet covert influence campaigns designed to slow or thwart the U.S. development of nuclear delivery systems and warheads, missile-defense systems and employment of intermediate nuclear range systems to Europe.
Specifically on page 260 of his memoir, he writes "during the period, the soviets mounted a massive covert action operation, aimed at thwarting INF deployments by NATO. We at CIA devoted tremendous resources to an effort at the time to uncovering the soviet covert campaign. Director Casey summarized this extraordinary effort in a paper he sent to Bush, Schultz, Weinberger and Clark on January 18, 1983. We later published it and circulated it widely within the government and to the allies, and finally, provided an unclassified version of the public to use," end quote.
I'd like to thank the CIA for digging up this unclassified version of the document and providing it to the committee, Soviet Strategy to derail U.S. INF deployment. Specifically, undermining NATO's solidarity in those deployments. I have asked unanimous consent that it be included in the hearing transcript and since the inmates are running the asylum, hearing no objection, we'll include it in the transcript.
Director Pompeo, earlier this year, Dr. Roy Godson testified that he believed that Russia was using active measures and covert influence efforts to undermine our nuclear modernization efforts, our missile defense deployments, and the INF Treaty, in keeping with these past practices.
To the best of your ability in this setting, would you agree with the assessment that Russia is likely using such active measures to undermine U.S. nuclear modernization efforts and missile defenses?
COTTON: Thank you.
As I mentioned earlier, the F.Y. '17 Intelligence Authorization Act included two unclassified provisions that I authored. One would be re-starting that old (inaudible) Measures Working Group. A second would require additional scrutiny of Russian embassy officials who travel more than the prescribed distance from their duty station, whether it's their embassy or a consulate around the United States.
In late 2016, when that bill was on the verge of passing, I personally received calls from high-ranking Obama administration officials asking me to withdraw them from the bill. I declined. The bill did not pass. It passed last week as part of the F.Y. '17 spending bill.
I did not receive any objection from Trump administration officials to include from our intelligence community.
Director Coats, are you aware of any objection that the Trump administration had to my two provisions?
COATS: No, I'm not aware of any objection.
COTTON: Director Pompeo?
COTTON: Do you know why the Obama administration objected to those two provisions in late 2016? I would add after the 2016 presidential election.
COATS: Well, it would be pure speculation. I don't -- I couldn't read -- I wasn't able to read the president's mind then and I don't think I can read it now.
COTTON: Thank you.
I'd like to turn my attention to a very important provision of law. I know that you've discussed earlier section 702.
Director Rogers, it's my understanding that your agency is undertaking an effort to try to release some kind of unclassified estimate of the number of U.S. persons who might have been incidentally collected using 702 techniques. Is that correct?
ROGERS: Sir, we're looking to see if we can quantify something that's of value to people outside the organization.
COTTON: Would -- would that require you going in and conducting searches of incidental collection that have been previously unexamined?
ROGERS: That's part of the challenge. How do I generate insight that doesn't in the process of generating the insight violate the actual tenets that...
COTTON: So -- so we're -- you're trying to produce an estimate that is designed to protect privacy rights, but to produce that estimate, you're going to have to violate privacy rights?
ROGERS: That is a potential part of all of this.
COTTON: It seems hard to do.
ROGERS: Yes, sir. That's why it has taken us a period of time and that's why we're in the midst of a dialogue.
COTTON: Is it going to be possible to produce that kind of estimate without some degree of inaccuracy or misleading information, or infringing upon the privacy rights of Americans?
ROGERS: Probably not.
COTTON: If anyone in your agency, or for that matter, Director McCabe, in yours, believes that there is misconduct or privacy rights are not being protected, they could, I believe under current law, come to your inspector general; come to your general counsel. I assume you have open door policies.
ROGERS: Whistleblower protections in addition, yes, sir, and they can come to you.
COTTON: They can come to this committee.
So four -- at least four different avenues. I'm probably missing some, if they believe there are any abuses in the section 702 (inaudible).
MCCABE (?): And anyone in their chain of command.
COTTON: I would ask that we proceed with caution before producing a report that might infringe on Americans' privacy rights needlessly, and that might make it even that much harder to reauthorize a critical program, something that, Director McCabe, your predecessor last week just characterized, if I can paraphrase, as a must-have program, not a nice-to-have program.
BURR: Thank you, Senator Cotton.
HARRIS: Thank you.
Acting Director McCabe, welcome. I know you've been in this position for only about 48 hours, and I appreciate your candor with this committee during the course of this open hearing.
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am.
HARRIS: Until this point, what was your role in the FBI's investigation into the Russian hacking of the 2016 election?
MCCABE: I've been the deputy director since February of 2016. So I've had an oversight role over all of our FBI operational activity, including that investigation.
HARRIS: And now that you're acting director, what will your role be in the investigation?
MCCABE: Very similar, senior oversight role to understand what our folks are doing and to make sure they have the resources they need and are getting the direction and the guidance they need to go forward.
HARRIS: Do you support the idea of a special prosecutor taking over the investigation in terms of oversight of the investigation, in addition to your role?
MCCABE: Ma'am, that is a question for the Department of Justice and it wouldn't be proper for me to comment on that.
HARRIS: From your understanding, who at the Department of Justice is in charge of the investigation?
MCCABE: The deputy attorney general, who serves as acting attorney general for that investigation. He is in charge.
HARRIS: And have you had conversations with him about the investigation since you've been in this role?
MCCABE: I have. Yes, ma'am.
HARRIS: And when Director Comey was fired, my understanding is he was not present in his office. He was actually in California. So my question is: Who was in charge of securing his files and devices when that -- when that information came down that he had been fired?
MCCABE: That's our responsibility, ma'am.
HARRIS: And are you confident that his files and his devices have been secured in a way that we can maintain whatever information or evidence he has in connection with the investigation?
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am. I am.
HARRIS: It's been widely reported, and you've mentioned this, that Director Comey asked Rosenstein for additional resources. And I understand that you're saying that you don't believe that you need any additional resources?
MCCABE: For the Russia investigation, ma'am, I think we are adequately resourced.
HARRIS: And will you commit to this committee that if you do need resources, that you will come to us, understanding that we would make every effort to get you what you need?
MCCABE: I absolutely will.
HARRIS: Has -- I understand that you've said that the White House, that you have not talked with the White House about the Russia investigation. Is that correct?
MCCABE: That's correct.
HARRIS: Have you talked with Jeff Sessions about the investigation?
MCCABE: No, ma'am.
HARRIS: Have you talked with anyone other than Rod Rosenstein at the Department of Justice about the investigation?
MCCABE: I don't believe I have -- you know, not recently; obviously, not in that -- not in this position.
HARRIS: Not in the last 48 hours?
MCCABE: No, ma'am.
HARRIS: OK. What protections have been put in place to assure that the good men and women of the FBI understand that they will not be fired if they aggressively pursue this investigation?
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am. So we have very active lines of communication with the team that's -- that's working on this issue. They are -- they have some exemplary and incredibly effective leaders that they work directly for. And I am confident that those -- that they understand and are confident in their position moving forward on this investigation, as my investigators, analysts and professionals staff are in everything we do every day.
HARRIS: And I agree with you. I have no question about the commitment that the men and women of the FBI have to pursue their mission. But will you commit to me that you will directly communicate in some way now that these occurrences have happened and Director Comey has been fired? Will you commit to me that given this changed circumstance, that you will find a way to directly communicate with those men and women to assure them that they will not be fired simply for aggressively pursuing this investigation?
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am.
HARRIS: Thank you.
And how do you believe we need to handle, to the extent that it exists, any crisis of confidence in the leadership of the FBI, given the firing of Director Comey?
MCCABE: I don't believe there is a crisis of confidence in the leadership of the FBI. That's somewhat self-serving, and I apologize for that.
You know, it was completely within the president's authority to take the steps that he did. We all understand that. We expect that he and the Justice Department will work to find a suitable replacement and a permanent director, and we look forward to supporting whoever that person is, whether they begin as an interim director or a permanently selected director.
This -- organization in its entirety will be completely committed to helping that person get off to a great start and do what they need to do.
HARRIS: And do you believe that there will be any pause in the investigation during this interim period, where we have a number of people who are in acting positions of authority?
MCCABE: No, ma'am. That is my job right now to ensure that the men and women who work for the FBI stay focused on the threats; stay focused on the issues that are of so much importance to this country; continue to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. And I will ensure that that happens.
HARRIS: I appreciate that. Thank you.
MCCABE: Yes, ma'am.
BURR: Thank you.
Second round, five minutes each.
WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to go back to the question I asked you, Director Pompeo. And I went out and reviewed the response that you gave to me. And of course, what I'm concerned about is the Sally Yates warning to the White House that Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians.
And you said you didn't have any first-hand indication of it. Did you have any indication -- second-hand, any sense at all that the national security adviser might be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians? That is a yes or no question.
POMPEO: It's actually not a yes-or-no question, Senator. I can't answer yes or no. I regret that I'm unable to do so. You have to remember this is a counterintelligence investigation that was largely being conducted by the FBI and not by the CIA. We're a foreign intelligence organization.
And I'll add only this, I was not intending to be clever by using the term "first-hand." I had no second-hand or third-hand knowledge of that conversation either.
WYDEN: So with respect to the CIA, were there any discussion with General Flynn at all?
POMPEO: With respect to what sir? He was for a period of time the national security advisor.
WYDEN: Topics that could have put at risk the security and the well being of the American people. I mean I'm just finding it very hard to swallow that you all had no discussions with the national security advisor.
POMPEO: I spoke with the national security advisor. He was the national security advisor. He was present for the daily brief on many occasions and we talked about all the topics we spoke to the President about.
WYDEN: But nothing relating to matters that could have compromised the security of the United States? POMPEO: Sir I can't recall every conversation with General Flynn during that time period.
WYDEN: We're going to ask some more about it in closed session this afternoon. Admiral Rogers, let me ask you about a technical question that I think is particularly troubling and that is the S.S. 7 question in the technology threat. Last week the Department of Homeland Security published a lengthy study about the impact on the U.S. government of mobile phone security flaws. The report confirmed what I have been warning about for quite some time, which is the significance of cyber security vulnerabilities associated with a signaling system seven report says the department believes, and I quote, that all U.S. carriers are vulnerable to these exploits, resulting in risks to national security, the economy and the federal governments ability to reliably execute national security functions. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by criminals, terrorists and nation state actors and foreign intelligence organizations.
Do you all share the concerns of the Department of Human -- the Homeland Security Department about the severity of these vulnerabilities and what ought to be done right now to get the government and the private sector to be working together more clearly and in a coherent plan to deal with these monumental risks. These are risks that we're going to face with terrorists and hackers and threats. And I think the federal communications commission has been treading water on this and I'd like to see what you want to do to really take charge of this to deal what is an enormous vulnerability to the security of this country?
ROGERS: Sure. I hear the concern. It's a widely deployed technology in the mobile segment. I share the concern the Department of Homeland security in their role kind of as the lead federal agency associated with cyber and support from the federal government to the private sector as overall responsibility here.
We are trying to provide at the national security agency our expertise to help generate insights about the nature of the vulnerability, the nature of the problem. Partnering with DHS, talking to the private sector. There's a couple of specific things from a technology stand point that we're looking at in multiple forms that the government has created partnering with the private sector.
I'm not smart, I apologize about all of the specifics of the DHS effort. I can take that for the record if you'd like.
WYDEN: All right. I just want to respond before we break to Senator Cotton's comments with respect to section 702. Mr. Director, glad to see my tax reform partner back in this role. You know Mr. Director that I think it's critical the American people know how many innocent law abiding Americans are being swept up in the program. The argument that producing an estimate of the number is in itself a violation of privacy, is I think a far fetched argue has been made for years. I and others who believe that we can have security and liberty, that they're not mutually exclusive have always believed that this argument that you're going to be invading peoples privacy doesn't add up. We have to have that number. Are we going to get it? Are we going to get it in time so we can have a debate that shows that those of us who understand there are threats coming from overseas, and we support the effort to deal with those threats as part of 702. That we are not going to have American's privacy rights indiscriminately swept up.
We need that number. When will we get it?
COATS: Senator as you recall, during my confirmation hearing, we had this discussion. I promised to you that I would -- if confirmed and I was, talk (ph) to NSA indeed with Admiral Rogers, try to understand -- better understand why it was so difficult to come to a specific number. I -- I did go out to NSA. I was hosted by Admiral Rogers. We spent significant time talking about that. And I learned of the complexity of reaching that number. I think the -- the statements that had been made by Senator Cotton are very relevant statements as to that.
Clearly, what I have learned is that a breach of privacy has to be made against American people have to be made in order to determine whether or not they breached privacy. So, it -- it -- there is a anomaly there. They're -- they're -- they're issues of duplication.
I know that a -- we're underway in terms of setting up a time with this committee I believe in June -- as early as June to address -- get into that issue and to address that, and talk through the complexity of why it's so difficult to say...
COATS: ...this is specifically when we can get you the -- the number and what the number is. So, I -- I believe -- I believe -- we are committed -- we are committed to a special meeting with the committee to try to go through this -- this particular issue.
But I cannot give you a date because I -- I -- and -- and a number because the -- I understand the complexity of it now and why it's so difficult for Admiral Rogers to say this specific number is the number.
WYDEN: I'm -- I'm well over my time. The point really is privacy advocates and technologists say that it's possible to get the number. If they say it, and the government is not saying it, something is really out of synch.
You've got people who want to work with you. We must get on with this and to have a real debate about 702 that ensures that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. We have to have that number.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
RISCH: Thank you, Senator. Senator King, I understand you had a...
KING: Thank you, Senator. If this hearing had been held two weeks ago, we'd be spending the last two hours talking about North Korea. And I think we ought to pay some attention to that.
Director Pompeo and Director Cardillo, could you give us an update on the North Korea situation, the nature of the threat, whether some of the pressure that we were feeling two and three and four weeks ago has relieved? Is there anything going on that should either concern or make us feel better about that situation?
POMPEO: Senator, I don't see anything that should make any us feel any better about this threat. We have a threat from flashpoints that something could spark and have a conventional war, right, wholly apart from the issues we talk about with ICBMs and nuclear. Just a well-armed adversary that our Department of Defense works hard to make sure and mitigate against those risks remain.
They -- the leader continues to develop, test, attempt to verify not only in the launches that we see, many of which have failed, but learned from each one, but continue to develop software that improves day by day. This threat is very real.
We -- we should not all focus simply on the ICBMs either. American interests are held at risk today by shorter-range missiles in theater. Enormous American assets...
KING: Seoul is held at risk by artillery.
POMPEO: Seoul is held at risk. We have enormous American interests in and around the region in Seoul.
So, no, I wouldn't say that in spite of the fact that it has fallen out of the headlines for the moment that there's any decreased risk associated with the threat from Kim Jung Un.
KING: There was some discussions after -- again, about two weeks ago of entering into some kind of discussions with the North Koreans. Has anything -- can you report anything on that front?
POMPEO: Sir, there -- there -- there are none that I'm aware of related to trying to talk Kim Jung Un away from his nuclear missile program. We have taken actions.
The agency -- I've stood up a Korean mission center to draw the best minds, the most innovative, create people from across our agency, and I'm sure we'll have others join in from across the intelligence community to try and focus this effort so that we can get back on our front foot with respect to foreign intelligence collection against the North Koreans and the capacity -- the impact what Kim Jung Un is actually doing.
KING: On that latter point, would you agree that the -- the path to influence is through China?
POMPEO: I think it's among our most productive paths and one that I know the president's committed to working, as is Secretary Tillerson.
KING: Thank you very much. Admiral Rogers...
CARDILLO: Senator King...
KING: Yes, please?
CARDILLO: Just to chime in. I was in front of your in closed session a couple of weeks ago, giving you great detail about the threat you've just highlighted. What you'll hear this afternoon is just an -- you know, the continuation of what I was briefing a couple of weeks ago.
So, I would agree with the director that this is -- this threat has not only been sustained, it's continued to grow.
KING: Because it's fallen out of the headlines doesn't mean it's not...
CARDILLO: That's correct. It's still our highest priority.
CARDILLO: It is -- it is the highest priority -- the -- one of the highest, if not the highest priority the intelligence community at this time. A great deal of effort is being spent relative to how we can even better assess the situation and provide all the relevant intelligence to our policy makers.
KING: Thank you. Two final questions.
Admiral Rogers, we -- the reason I was late this morning, we had a very informative hearing in Armed Services on cyber with some -- Jim Clapper and Admiral Stavitis and Admiral -- General Hayden. The -- the upshot of that hearing was we still don't have a doctrine. We still don't have a policy.
We still don't really fully understand -- you would concur, I assume, that cyber's one of the most serious threats we face.
ROGERS: Yes, sir.
KING: And do we need to have a policy and a deterrent policy and something further than what we have now, which is kind of an ad hoc response to events?
ROGERS: Right, it tends to be a case-by-case basis. Yes, sir. I -- I agree.
And we spoke about that when I testified before the Senate (ph) last week as a matter of fact...
KING: And it -- Senator McCain said -- Senator McCain said what's the impediment? Why can't we get there?
Is it -- is it the structure of our government? We got too many people thinking about this? What is it going to take to get us to the point of having a -- a doctrine that will guide us in this incredibly important era.
We -- we are seeing the nation of warfare change before our eyes.
ROGERS: Sir, I don't have any easy answer for you. My role in life, not speaking now as a director of NSA but as the commander of the United States Cyber Commander, is to the operational commander. So, I don't develop policy. I -- I play a role on the doctrine side, trying to provide an operational perspective.
KING: Well, I hope from your position though, you would be...
ROGERS: Oh, yes, sir.
KING: ...the administration and everyone you can think of because...
ROGERS: Yes, sir.
KING: ...I do not want to go home to Maine and say well, we talked a lot about this but we didn't do anything. And when the electric system went down, you know, we -- we might've been able to prevent it.
ROGERS: Yes, sir.
KING: Director Pompeo, final question. Do you think that Russian activity in the 2016 election was a one-off?
POMPEO: No, sir.
KING: This is a continuing threat, is it not?
POMPEO: Yes, sir.
KING: And things that they learned in this election they're going to apply in -- in 2018, 2020, and beyond.
POMPEO: Yes, sir. And I hope we learn from it as well and will be able to more effectively defeat it.
KING: And I believe that's why the work of this committee and others is so important because we've got to understand what they did, how they did it so that we can deal with it in the future. Would you agree?
POMPEO: Yes, Senator, I would. KING: Thank you very much.
COATS: Senator King, if I could just add to that. I think making this as transferable -- transparent as possible, not only to our -- our -- our own public, but throughout democratic nations that are facing this -- this threat. The more we inform our people of what the Russians are trying to do and how they're trying to impact our thinking and our decisions relative to how we want to be governed and what kind of democratic institutions that we want to preserve, the better.
So, my hope is the Russians have overstepped here to the point where people will say we absolutely have to do something about it. And we ask will it have to -- to prevent deterrent efforts in place as well as potentially offensive efforts.
KING: Well, I -- I think your point about open hearings and education is incredibly important. You and I were in the Ukraine and Poland just about a year ago. And what they told us over there was that the best defense -- they can't shut down their TV networks, they can't turn off the internet.
The best defense is if the public knows what's happening and they say oh, it's just the Russians again. And we have to reach that level of knowledge in -- in this country. So, I completely agree and hope that as much of our work as possible can be done in open hearing.
Thank you, Mr. Chair (ph).
RISCH: Thank you, Senator King. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
Thank you all for your service. Thank you to all the men and women of all 17 agencies for the incredible service they provide to the people of the United States, keeping them safe, doing things that most people in America will never know nor be able to fully appreciate.
Mr. McCabe, a special thank you for to stepping up to the battlefield promotion and -- and representing your agency quite well here. This part of the hearing will be adjourned.
And gentlemen, you have about an hour and six minutes. And we'll see at the other room.
Thank you. Meeting's adjourned.
Transcript provided by ASC Services, on behalf of Bloomberg Finance (Government Division).
Correction: Due to a transcription error, a previous version of this post incorrectly attributed a quote to acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. The quote, "A resounding no from me," was made by Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.