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FACTS OF THE MATTER: Trump, Russia and the 2016 U.S. presidential election

May 17, 2017 - 00:15 -- Admin

FACTS UNDER OATHGRAHAM: OK. Do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation counterintelligence investigation regarding Trump campaign individuals in the Russian government as to whether not to collaborate? You said that in March...COMEY: To see if there was any coordination between the Russian effort and peoples...GRAHAM: Is that still going on?COMEY: Yes.GRAHAM: OK. So nothing's changed. You stand by those two statements?COMEY: Correct. ……SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: Thanks. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you Director Comey for being here and thank you to you and the men and women who work with you at the FBI for their extraordinary service to our country, much of it unappreciated as you've wrote so powerfully in your opening statement. You have confirmed, I believe, that the FBI is investigating potential ties between Trump Associates and the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct?COMEY: Yes. BLUMENTHAL: And you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the Trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation, correct?COMEY: Well, I haven't said anything publicly about who we've opened investigations on, I briefed the chair and ranking on who those people are. And so I can't -- I can't go beyond that in this setting. [FBI Director James B. Comey responds to a questions from Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (Democrat-Connecticut) during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation”, commencing 10am US EDT 3 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]With respect to the Russian investigation, we treated it like we did with the Clinton investigation. We didn't say a word about it until months into it and then the only thing we've confirmed so far about this is the same thing with the Clinton investigation. That we are investigating. And I would expect, we're not going to say another peep about it until we're done. And I don't know what will be said when we're done, but that's the way we handled the Clinton investigation as well…….In that particular investigation, my judgment was that it — that the appearance of fairness and independence required that it be removed from the political chain of command within the Department of Justice, because as you recall, it seems like a lifetime ago. But that also involved the conduct of people who were senior-level people in the White House, and my judgment was that even I, as an independent-minded person, was a political appointee and so I ought to give it to a career person like Pat Fitzgerald. The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets. Russia also collected on certain Republican Party- affiliated targets, but did not release any Republican-related data. The Intelligence Community Assessment concluded first that President Putin directed and influenced campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump. These conclusions were reached based on the richness of the information gathered and analyzed and were thoroughly vetted and then approved by the directors of the three agencies and me. [JAMES R. CLAPPER JR., former Director Of National Intelligence August 2010–January 2017, giving evidence before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, commencing 4.30am AEST 9 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]When the Intelligence Community obtains information suggesting that a U.S. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that information with the FBI. The Bureau then decides whether to look into that information and handles any ensuing investigation, if there is one.Given its sensitivity, even the existence of a counterintelligence investigation is closely held, including at the highest levels. During my tenure as DNI, it was my practice to defer to the FBI Director – both Director Mueller and Director Comey – on whether, when, and to what extent they would inform me about such investigations. This stems from the unique position of the FBI, which straddles both intelligence and law enforcement. As a consequence, I was not aware of the counterintelligence investigation Director Comey first referred to during his testimony before the House intelligence committee on March 20th, and that comports with my public statements. [JAMES R. CLAPPER, former Director of National Intelligence, giving evidence before the U.S. Committee On The Judiciary Subcommittee On Crime And Terrorism United States Senate investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, 8 May 2017, transcript]I had two in-person meetings and one phone call with the White House Counsel about Mr. Flynn. The first meeting occurred on January 26, called Don McGahn first thing that morning and told him that I had a very sensitive matter that I needed to discuss with him, that I couldn't talk about it on the phone and that I needed to come see him. And he agreed to meet with me later that afternoon.I took a senior member of the national security division who was overseeing this matter with me to meet with Mr. McGahn. We met in his office at the White House which is a skiff (ph) so we could discuss classified information in his office. We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of statements from the vice president and others that related conduct that Mr. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the truth.And as I - as I tell you what happened here, again I'm going to be very careful not to reveal classified information…..So I told them again that there were a number of press accounts of statements that had been made by the vice president and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn's conduct that we knew to be untrue. And we told them how we knew that this - how we had this information, how we had acquired it, and how we knew that it was untrue.And we walked the White House Counsel who also had an associate there with him through General Flynn's underlying conduct, the contents of which I obviously cannot go through with you today because it's classified. But we took him through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what General Flynn had done, and then we walked through the various press accounts and how it had been falsely reported.We also told the White House Counsel that General Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI on February 24. Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that. And we then walked through with Mr. McGahn essentially why we were telling them about this and the first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.Secondly, we told him we felt like the vice president and others were entitled to know that the information that they were conveying to the American people wasn't true. And we wanted to make it really clear right out of the gate that we were not accusing Vice President Pence of knowingly providing false information to the American people.And, in fact, Mr. McGahn responded back to me to let me know that anything that General Flynn would've said would have been based -- excuse me -- anything that Vice President Pence would have said would have been based on what General Flynn had told him.We told him the third reason was -- is because we were concerned that the American people had been misled about the underlying conduct and what General Flynn had done, and additionally, that we weren't the only ones that knew all of this, that the Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done.And the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others, because in the media accounts, it was clear from the vice president and others that they were repeating what General Flynn had told them, and that this was a problem because not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information.And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians. Finally, we told them that we were giving them all of this information so that they could take action, the action that they deemed appropriate.I remember that Mr. McGahn asked me whether or not General Flynn should be fired, and I told him that that really wasn't our call, that was up to them, but that we were giving them this information so that they could take action, and that was the first meeting.[SALLY C. YATES, former Deputy U.S. Attorney-General & former Acting Attorney-General January 2015-January 2017, giving evidence before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, commencing 4.30am AEST 9 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]‘ALTERNATIVE FACTS’ [https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/861712617299210240 & https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/861713233786404864]via  HOLT: Monday, you met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Did you ask for a recommendation?TRUMP: What I did was, I was going to fire. My decision. I was not...HOLT: You’d made the decision before they came into the room?TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it by the way.HOLT: In your letter, you said, ‘I accept their recommendation.’ TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire, regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation, he’s highly respected — very good guy, very smart guy. And the Democrats like him, Republicans like him. He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. [Excerpt from NBC News Lester Holt interview with Donald Trump on 11 May 2017]