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(VIDEO) Sen. Hawley Destroys Comey: ‘Why Don’t You Regret Your Role in the Unprecedented Misleading?’


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HAWLEY: “Of course, it was only these FISA applications, these involving Carter Page, that you signed off on, that drew an unprecedented rebuke from the FISA Court, which I’m sure you remember. Let me just quote from that FISA Court order. ‘The frequency and the seriousness of these in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications.’ Do you remember that order from the court?”

COMEY: “It came after I left, as I recall, but I remember reading about it. Yes.”

HAWLEY: “And have you ever known the court to ever issue any such order that you’re familiar with?”

COMEY: “Yes.”

HAWLEY: “You have known the court to issue orders rebuking the FBI for misleading it in the past?”

COMEY: “Yes. Shortly before 9/11, there was significant criticism from the FISA Court about the quality of FISA applications.”

HAWLEY: “And the court said that the frequency and seriousness of the errors in this and applications led it to doubt the reliability of all FBI applications in all other cases?

COMEY: “I don’t remember the exact words, but something similar. As I recall, they banned at least one agent from appearing in FISA applications — “

HAWLEY: “Yeah, but that’s not what they did here. In this case the FISA Court said that they had reason to doubt the reliability of FBI applications across cases because of the level of misleading information that you personally signed off on. Do you regret your role in this unprecedented misleading of a FISA court?”

COMEY: “I don’t regret my role, I regret that it happened.”

HAWLEY: “Why not?”

COMEY: “I’m sorry?”

HAWLEY: “Why don’t you regret your role in the unprecedented misleading of a FISA Court?”

COMEY: “I regret that the FBI supplied information to a FISA Court that was inaccurate, incomplete and should have been updated.”

HAWLEY: “Do you regret that you signed off on it?”

COMEY: “I regret that it happened. The only reason I’m hesitating is, What the FBI director does in connection with a FISA is actually very narrow. But put that to the side. It’s important that it be accurate, and it wasn’t and I regret that very much.”

HAWLEY: “Listen, you said this several times and I, frankly, don’t understand it. The certification that the statute requires is a certification by the FBI director as to the contents of the application. You signed off on it. The FISA court said it was so misleading that it now had reason to doubt the FBI’s truthfulness across the board. Are you responsible for these certifications or not?”

COMEY: “I don’t believe that you’re accurately describing the statutory requirement —“

HAWLEY: “Are you responsible for these certifications or not? Answer my question.”

COMEY: “I signed certifications on every FISA that the FBI sends to the FISA Court, including these.”

HAWLEY: “Are you responsible for this misleading evidence given to the FISA court, yes or no?”

COMEY: “Yes in the sense of command responsibility, no in that I didn’t have personal knowledge it would have led me to understand that we weren’t supplying complete information.”

HAWLEY: “Let’s talk about what personal knowledge you have. When you certified the first Carter Page FISA application, you believed Mr. Steele was working for the Democratic Party, didn’t you?”

COMEY: “I don’t remember whether I knew the Democratic Party. I knew that they was working for political opponents of President Trump.”

HAWLEY: “Now let me remind you of your testimony under oath on December 7th, 2018, before the House Oversight Committee in which you said, and I quote, ‘Steele was retained by Republicans adverse to Mr. Trump during the primary season, and then his work was underwritten after that by Democrats opposed to Mr. Trump during the general election season.’ Now, surely, you recognized at the time that relying so heavily on a biased source would undermine public confidence in the FBI’s activities, didn’t you?”

COMEY: “No, I did not.”

HAWLEY: “Why wouldn’t you? You told the same committee, House Oversight Committee, December 7, 2018, and I quote, ‘When you’re a leader of the justice agency,’ that’s you, ‘the appearance of bias is as important as existence of actual bias.’ You also said, a reasonable appearance of bias can corrupt American people’s faith in your work as much as actual bias can. Do you stand by those remarks?”

COMEY: “Very much so.”

HAWLEY: “But you nevertheless allowed the Democratic Party to leverage the federal government’s most invasive intelligence capabilities against President Trump and you personally signed off on it. You also knew at the time that other officials in the Department of Justice had serious concerns. Do you know who Stuart Evans is?”

COMEY: “I do.”

HAWLEY: “Mr. Evans was a lawyer at the National Security Division of DOJ under President Obama, wasn’t he?”

COMEY: “I think he was — I don’t know for sure. I think he was a career official at the Department of Justice —“

HAWLEY: “He was a lawyer at the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. Before the first Carter Page FISA application, Mr. Evans raised serious concerns about the ostensibly partisan nature of the information provided by Mr. Steele. Did he not?”

COMEY: “I don’t know.”

HAWLEY: “He did. The Inspector General reports it on pages 136 and 137 of this report, and you knew of those concerns before you signed off on the FISA application, didn’t you?”

COMEY: “I don’t think I knew before. I remember reading the footnote that attempted to inform the court of potential bias.”

HAWLEY: “No, actually the Inspector General found on page 139 of the report, and I quote, on October 12th, 2016, Evans’ concerns about Steele were briefed to Comey, end quote. And yet you signed off knowing — knowing that the research was funded by the Democratic Party, knowing that senior officials in the Department of Justice National Security Division had serious concerns. You signed off nonetheless. Let’s talk about what else you knew or didn’t know. When you certified that FISA application, did you know the allegations in the Steele dossier came from sub-sources, not from Steele’s own knowledge?”

COMEY: “I believe I did know, yeah. A network of sources and sub-sources, correct.”

HAWLEY: “Did you know who this primary sub-source was?”

COMEY: “No.”

HAWLEY: “Did you ask who the primary sub-source was?”

COMEY: “No.”

HAWLEY: “Did you ask the FBI to take any steps to identify that source before submitting this application to the FISA Court?”

COMEY: “I don’t know whether I asked. I knew there was an effort underway to try to replicate Steele’s source network so we could figure out what to make of Steele’s reporting.”

HAWLEY: “Well, what the Inspector General concluded was that, ‘Comey told us,’ this is page 153, ‘that the application seemed factually and legally sufficient when he read it, and he had no questions or concerns before he signed it.’ Surely you realize that the source’s identity and his motives, this sub-source who we now know may well have been a Russian agent, that that would affect his credibility, correct?”

COMEY: “I thought it was important that we were informing the court of any potential bias from any source. And I remember reading language in this — in that initial filing that addressed that potential bias issue with respect to the Steele reporting.”

HAWLEY: “So you’re — I’m sorry, your testimony now is that you informed the court of potential problems with the sub-source, political motivations, connections to foreign governments, the FISA Court was informed about that?”

COMEY: “No. I’m sorry, I understood your question to be about whether we informed the court about potential bias in Steele’s reporting. I didn’t know the identity or any information about sub-sources.”

HAWLEY: “So, you personally authorized an unprecedented surveillance on an individual associated with the presidential campaign during that campaign’s ongoing time period, October of 2016, you signed off personally on two further applications based on information from a source that you believed, correctly, worked for the Democratic Party, and the source’s information, it turns out, was coming from a suspected Russian agent, yet you did nothing to try to verify any of this information, you brushed aside the concerns of high-level national security lawyers at the Department of Justice. How are the American people to trust you or the FBI following abuses like this?”

COMEY: “I disagree extensively with your predicate. I think the FBI is an organization that is honest, competent, independent, and also flawed because it’s made up of human beings.”

HAWLEY: “Well, I have to say, I’m not necessarily worried about the FBI as a whole. I’m worried about you and I’m worried about what you certified to a court that led the FISA Court to conclude that it had been misled repeatedly, and that due to the nature of those repeated misrepresentations, it could no longer trust what the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency you led, what it said in subsequent cases. That, I suggest to you, is an incredible dereliction of duty, indeed a betrayal of your responsibility as director of the FBI. If I could, Mr. Chairman, just one last thing I want to follow up on. The letter to Chairman Graham from John Ratcliffe, which I know you’ve seen, Mr. Comey, as you mentioned it earlier. Mr. Ratcliffe says, ‘On 7th September 2016, U.S intelligence officials forwarded am investigative referral to FBI Director James Comey regarding U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning Donald Trump and Russian hackers as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private mail server.’ Did you open an investigation?”

COMEY: “I don’t know what that refers to. As I said earlier, that does not ring any bells with me when I read that.”

HAWLEY: “You did not receive any investigative referral of this nature.”

COMEY: “I don’t remember it. I don’t remember receiving anything that’s described in that letter.”

HAWLEY: “Okay. I have to say — Mr. Chairman, I realize my time has expired — I find it extraordinary that a referral from the IC to the FBI regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign and potential illicit activity received no, no attention from the FBI, so little attention that the director doesn’t even recall it. And yet, the director and others had plenty of time to go and seek surveillance warrants during an ongoing presidential campaign, warrants so flawed that the FISA Court has now said it can’t trust what the FBI says in future cases. This is an extraordinary abuse of power and it’s time we hold people responsible for it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

GRAHAM: “Senator Blumenthal?”

BLUMENTHAL: “Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, thank you for being here today. Thank you for your service to our nation, and thank you for your family’s as well, your wife’s in particular. I think that this hearing is likely to attract as much attention and land with the same giant thud as the previous two hearings because the American people are really focused on direct and imminent threats to our nation.”

Rusty Weiss

Rusty Weiss is a freelance journalist focusing on the conservative movement and its political agenda. He has been writing conservatively charged articles for several years in the upstate New York area, and his writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, American Thinker,, Big Government, the Times Union, and the Troy Record. He is also Editor of one of the top conservative blogs of 2012, the Mental Recession.

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