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tv   Representative Devin Nunes Provides Russia Investigation Update  CSPAN  February 28, 2017 1:54am-2:34am EST

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wall ine president's the $54 billion? likely, we be more do expect to include some money in a future settlement oh for 2017 for the wall. >> president trump go versus first address to a first joint session of congress. following the speech we will have the democratic response from steven beshear. live coverage to -- begins with a preview show. followed by the president's speech. >> there is no evidence to show
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campaign staffers had contacts with russian officials. whether to investigate the issue. this is 35 minutes. >> i will thank all of you for being here. as you all know it has long been a priority of mine to be a very transparent with all of you to make sure i am readily available to answer any questions when major issues arise in relations to intelligence. occurred,ng what has and wants to formalize the process -- the process. that's a lot of you attended. i want to formalize it and make -- i don't know if he will do
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it every week or other week. i will open it up to all of you. >> can you say there were no contact whatsoever between any officials affiliated with russian government and the trump campaign? >> we have not seen evidence of that has any campaign committed with the russian government. agree to dr. of >> that story was off. if you asked me to contact the said can usend that me up with somebody at the intelligence agencies i was a short area it was an audit story. >> house it compromised if i'm
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trying to be transparent with the press? know if he white house asked me to talk to you. do you think that would be ok or not ok? what is your response? >> you are investigating this man. >> that did not happen. that absolutely did not happen. >> is there anything you have learned in this investigation? >> if you look at what has happened, there been major crimes committed. ist i am concerned about that no one is focusing on major leagues that have occurred. i was iner the leak
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contact with the australian investor and the white house in the appropriate agencies. we cannot run a government like this. that is one of the focuses that he will should be concerned about. is the circle of individuals that have access to those? i did not really realize this goesvidently the process down to the state department and ic and stakeholders in the nsc or the appropriate people in the white house.
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our foreign leaders going to be able to talk to her for leaders of they don't think this is going to be leaked to the press? >> he said no contact with the russian government. there are many russian businessmen, oligarchs etc.. they report to the kremlin. have you eliminated that , that they have connections with the russian government even if they are not working for them? >> we have not eliminated anything. the only thing that i want to make sure we do is before we go after american citizens and its subpoena them or bring them before the legislative branch of government that it is not just because they appeared in a news story somewhere. >> you are still investigating the communications between trump's campaign advisors and russians. >> i would say
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i would not limit it to trump only, or trump officials. i would say it would be any contacts with any political candidate at any level, including in the united states or in other foreign countries. >> are you saying there are clinton advisers speaking to -- >> no, let's not -- third be no evidence of that, nor is there any evidence of -- there would be no evidence of that, nor is there any evidence of trump advisors speaking to the russians. but we do know for a long time that the russians have been very interested in manipulating elections, manipulating the press. they are very good at propaganda. and so, that is what caused me one year ago to come out and criticize the intelligence agencies for the largest intelligence failure since 9/11 because of the lack of good intelligence we were getting on putin's plans.
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so, that is why i really appreciate the amount of press that showed appeared today because we do need to have some scrutiny put onto the russian government and we do need to k -- know if there are any americans that are talking to the russians. and anybody connected to the russian government or russian agents. at this time, i want to be very careful that we cannot just go on a witch hunt against americans because they appear on a news story somewhere. >> michael flynn? >> any american. i think specifically there was, i think the more important question on that was, there were three americans, to which the only name i know, and the other two i don't know, but they appeared in a news story. the questions that we had 10 days ago when the story broke for many of you who attended the different press availability is that i had, the question was whether or not we were going to investigate those americans. and at this point, here at the committee, we still don't have any evidence of them talking to the russians. >> do you have all the evidence
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at this point that you are expecting to receive, or are you still in the preliminary stages? >> well, we have the scoping of our investigation finished. and then we are going to move into actually receiving the evidence, but as of right now, the initial inquiries i have made to the appropriate agencies, i don't have any evidence. >> i want to be really clear. the fbi told you they have found no contact between any trump associates and russian officials? >> i want to be -- i want to not be specific to anyone agency. as of right now, i don't have any evidence of any phone calls. it does not mean they don't exist, but i don't have that. what i have been told is by many folks, is that there's nothing there. >> but you are still looking? >> i just can't call american citizens with no information. >> there was no direct contact?
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>> well, i think specifically, this would be on contacts with any association whatsoever to anyone even within the realm of the russian intelligence apparatus. >> you just said that many people have told you. can you be more specific? >> i will not get into the conversations i had specifically with the executive branch and the appropriate agencies. but i will say that we long have had a very good process in the congress here, where we have a gang of eight, when counterintelligence issues arise, the brief us on those issues and we keep them -- they oftentimes involve american citizens.
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it is important that we keep it that way windows investigations are ongoing. -- keep it that way when those investigations are ongoing. as it relates to any campaign officials dealing with russians will we don't have any evidence right now. >> if you were told there is nothing there, why are you specifically conducting investigations into whether there are links between the campaign and russian officials? >> well, unlike what, i think what has been reported, we have had a long, ongoing investigation into russian activities. i would have preferred for that not to be spoken about in public, but you might remember for the last several years, we have been concerned about russian cyber activity and we remain concerned about those activities. since the election, we have broadened the scope of the investigation to include any involvement in this election and our elections here and of course, any ties there might be
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to any government officials at any level. it is not just here in washington. but governors and others. if there is anything out there, any american citizen from political campaigns coordinating with the russian government, we clearly would want to know that and investigate it. reporter: if you have you seen the transcripts of the phone calls with the russians? mr. nunes: no, but i have been briefed on them. it would be unusual, i think unprecedented for us to get transcripts that were illegally leaked out and discussed for us to have those here in congress. i think we have to be very careful about the legislative branch of government getting fisa warranted, communications and that we start coming through private conversations american citizens are having. we have to be very careful where we go with this. >> is it not concerning, though?
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mr. nunes: no, what it appears to me like is it seems to me -- it seems to be there is a difference between what russia's sanctions are to people like myself, which when i think of russian sanctions, i think of dealing with crimea, dealing with the invasion of ukraine by the russians and the sanctions that we have put into place working with our allies, with the eu and others. and then what happened right at the time after christmas when president obama kicked the russia diplomat out. i don't consider that to be sanctions. [inaudible] mr. nunes: russian sanctions on a global stage, most of the meetings i have had with foreign
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leaders, they always revolve around -- when we talk about russian sanctions that is what we are referring to. when president obama kicked out the diplomats, and that was number one, it was way too late. number two, it was extremely weak. number three, the russian government did not even respond to it because it was so ridiculous. reporter: did the white house ask you about talking to this reporter, did you know they had also asked the senator to do the same thing? was this a coordinated effort to push back? mr. nunes: no, if anything, it was the opposite. so, many of you who were around 10 days ago, you know that i took your questions as related to "the new york times" piece, as it related to three americans and whether or not we had information or not. i had already talked to many of you about that several times, both in press rooms and on individual interviews.
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so, by the time -- all it was was a white house communications person passing a number and the name of a reporter over. i would talk to them, following up with what i had already told all of you in the days before that. i'm not sure how you generate a press story out of that. i can't control what you guys write. reporter: are you saying the fbi has not supplied you with that evidence? or the fbi told you there is no evidence? mr. nunes: i'm not going to get into which agencies. i think it's important. but the intelligence agencies have not provided me or the committee any information about those three americans communicating with russians. reporter: but they have not told you that evidence does not exist? there is a difference there. mr. nunes: the way it sounds like to me is it's been looked into. and there is no evidence of anything there. obviously we'd like to know if there is. then it's serious. then it would be the intelligence agencies then misleading congress. which opens up another problem. reporter: could the special
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prosecutor take away the notion this could be tainted by politics. mr. nunes: we're the legislative branch of government. we're elected. i think the history of special prosecutors is mixed. at this point, what are we going to appoint a special prosecutor to do exactly? to chase stories of american citizens that end of the cash and the in newspaper articles? end up the newspaper articles? right now, look, at some point we have serious crimes that have been committed. it would be something that we would consider. at this but we don't have that. the only serious crimes we have are leaks that have come out of our government to the press and others. yes? >> [inaudible] mr. nunes: i wrote the letter and obviously, it is a classified letter. there is a classified and unclassified version and we are expecting answers to that. i think we have some briefings this week and next week.
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and those briefings will continue. reporter: are you committing resources to investigate these leaks? mr. nunes: well, as anything we can't -- it is very similar to us not having any evidence of who -- of these american citizens that were allegedly talking to russians. we also don't not exactly who would have known about general flynn. now, the good thing is about fisa and the way it works, there should be a record of who in the government knew about general flynn talking to the russian ambassador. from there, we should be able to know who is in the realm, who we need to talk to. reporter: who made the decision under the last administration about general flynn? mr. mr. nunes: we don't know that yet. that we should be able to find out. we should be able to find it within the executive branch
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about the initial conversation and then who went to who to get flynn's name on that. that should be a small number of people. reporter: when the intelligence committee begins presenting evidence to you, will the evidence be turned over to your committee, or will it continue to be housed in the intelligence community? mr. nunes: that is one of the contentious issues right now, where the information is housed. some will be here in some will remain at the agencies. reporter: do you have any news at all about anyone in the white house directly discussing the issue, any issue, with the russian ambassador? did anyone at the white house tell general flynn to do that?
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mr. nunes: general flynn is an american war hero, one of the greatest military machines in our history, providing intelligence to eliminate al qaeda from iraq. he was the national security advisor. he was taking multiple calls a day from ambassadors, from foreign leaders. and look, i know this because the foreign leaders were contacting me trying to get in touch with the transition team and they wanted to meet with president trump or president-elect trump and vice president-elect pence. reporter: did president trump or his transition team tell flynn -- tell flynn. mr. nunes: i find that hard to believe because they were also busy. reporter: do you plan to coordinate with the senate? mr. nunes: we are separate bodies, but we will -- we will have a scoping document that we -- that should be approved. i think it is finished now. and then probably just have some brief outlines on what we will be looking at. you guys on the what we are going to be looking at. it is not rocket science.
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i wouldn't rule it out. i wouldn't rule it out. we will try to work with the senate where possible, but i view this as two separate branches of the legislative branch of government. reporter: is there a difference between the white house and asking the fbi to knock down -- [inaudible] mr. nunes: first of all, the white house having a reporter -- if a reporter asks the white house, can you get a hold of whatever member of congress? i don't think there is an issue there. i don't remember the story. as it relates to the fbi, i believe what happened with the white house, as i understand it in my limited conversations that i have had, i just think it was an obvious question that one would ask. if there is no evidence here, can you talk about it? the fbi normally does not talk about leaks and whether or not they are investigating come or
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other issues, including who is under investigation. it is pretty standard for them not to comment on this. it is unusual if they do comment. and so, obviously, when -- i don't even know how true that story is. i would go to the white house and ask what conversations actually occurred. i think they were pretty simple if there were any. reporter: can you talk about where you are in starting this investigation? mr. nunes: just to make sure you understand, what caused me to go out one year ago and say the biggest intelligence failure since 9/11 was to misunderstand what putin's intentions were. we were constantly investigating the russian problem. all we are doing is adding additional things we are looking at, which include the election issues. reporter: you say there is no evidence right now of russian contacting trump campaign officials.
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you say you are in the scope gathering process of the investigation. mr. nunes: we are putting together a scope, working bipartisan with my counterpart mr. schiff, so we make sure we are on the election, as it relates to the election. look, we have always been very interested in what the russians are up to, so this is part of an ongoing investigation that i was hopeful would not be out in the press like it is. now we are just expanding the scope of the investigation to include the election. but in terms of evidence, some we have, some evidence we do have. obviously, we are looking for more, but as it relates to american citizens, if you have american citizens you know are talking to russian agents, if you want to come to our committee and be a whistleblower yourself, i would be interested in having those names.
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reporter: but you are collecting more evidence. mr. nunes: he will continue to take evidence and follow where they lead. [inaudible] >> was it just them, or do you think this was a regular process of listening into what trump was doing? mr. nunes: of they understand it, this was inadvertent collection to where then, mr. flynn's name was umasked. someone had to may -- had to make that decision. someone very high up within the government would have to make that decision. we are very interested in figuring out who those people were because they have questions to answer as to why -- what laws did they use to decide to unmask general flynn's name? reporter: if there was ongoing contact between the russians and the trump campaign, wouldn't other names pop up inadvertently? if this was the only one that popped up, would that knock out the idea that there was regular contact? mr. nunes: there was no evidence i have been presented of regular
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contact with anybody within the trump campaign. the only one that is obvious is general flynn's discussions with the russians, which i would contend he was doing what he was supposed to do, which is prepare the president-elect for office by getting as many leaders in front of him as possible. reporter: is this a major crime for leakers to discuss classified information relating to these communications and elsewhere? why is it not appropriate for the white house and senator burr to call reporters and give your own interpretation of the continuing investigation that involves classified intelligence? isn't that a counter-leak, as it were? mr. nunes: i would never talk about classified information with any of you because that would be a crime. reporter: but the message coming to you and others was that we
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would look at the information and there is nothing there and that relates to the ongoing investigation. it is based on classified information about contacts. mr. nunes: right, but there is no release of classified information within that and i am confused by your question because either you -- the white house has been critical of a lot of you. so, here you have the white house trying to communicate with many of you and trying to communicate with the congress about what they are doing. now suddenly, that is wrong. there is nothing wrong with that. if you look at the last administration, and i think a lot of the democrats were being honest with you, they would know the relationship between the last white house and congress was extremely poor. what we are trying to do is to have a very good working relationship with the executive branch of government, at all levels. and so, i would anticipate, i would hope, that we have more coordination with the white house and all the appropriate
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agencies and that we actually -- on one side we are a separate branch of government, and we will conduct rigorous oversights. which look, i have been very clear, if i find out that reince priebus was talking to russian agents, you can bet that he will get a subpoena and will appear before the congress. reporter: the fbi director was at the hearing. has he appeared before your committee? mr. nunes: we have had discussions with the fbi director and others within the fbi. and i do expect they will be briefing us again this week or next. [inaudible] mr. nunes: what is that? that is way above my pay grade. i don't know at this point, what what the attorney general, what
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he would recuse himself from. [inaudible] nunes: the way this works is the fbi is, and some point, if they are conducting an investigation, they would have to go to the appropriate places to get a warrant to do something, and as far as i know, that has not happened. reporter: you have any concerns with reince priebus talking with the fbi? mr. nunes: i don't want to speak -- i think you need to ask him, but i think they have been clear about the discussions. the fbi regularly briefs both branches of government. the fbi would brief the president, vice president, chief of staff, any other appropriate personnel, the same with a brief the senate and house. it would not be unusual, in any of those cases, for us to make the request of the fbi, or any other intelligence agency. reporter: has anything in the
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trump dossier been verified? mr. nunes: not that i am aware of. [inaudible] mr. nunes: i think that is a good point. look, i think that is a good point. you guys were the ones that were there. i think i spoke to you when that story was breaking. i was very clear with what i thought about that "new york times" story. this was way in advance of the white house sending the one phone number. still don't understand the problem of the white house sending me a number of a press person to call. isn't it the point of the press to be transparent? you guys normally wanted to talk to me and that is why wanted to create this press availability today, so i could talk to all of you, so it is more organized versus you guys chasing me around. >> have they given you any guidance on this? mr. nunes: no, no, no. it was just, this person wanted to talk about "the new york times" story in the got the
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number and called the reporter. reporter: i am not sure i understand the distinction between the ukraine sanctions and the sanctions that president obama imposed. mr. nunes: look, let me describe it bluntly, ok? reporter: for these sanctions on individuals -- if general flynn telegraphed to the russian ambassador that those sanctions, whether or not you thought they were strong enough, would be lifted, would that not be -- mr. nunes: let me be very clear. so, i think that, just when i apply common sense to this, those were not sanctions. those were petty. they were not taken seriously. every conversation i have ever had about russian sanctions with any of our allies, it has always been about the russia sanctions dealing with the invasion of ukraine. reporter: but you realize there were sanctions imposed. mr. nunes: you guys can call them that if you want.
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but i would not call them that. reporter: that is what they were called by the white house. did general flynn suggest to the russian ambassador that he did not have to worry? that putin did not have to worry about the sanctions because president trump would either ease or lift them? mr. nunes: well, i think that -- if the discussions occurred around ensuring there was no overreaction by the russian government, so that the new administration could do like all the other previous administrations think they could work with putin, which all three have been wrong, they cannot work with putin. if that was what general flynn did, just to try to keep the lines of communication open and to make sure the russians did not overreact and maybe have some reciprocal attacks on our diplomats or other of the seas -- diplomats or embassies around
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the world, that would be a big favor and we should not go after them. reporter: he was telling the russian ambassador, don't worry about what the president just announced. we are going to do something different. mr. nunes: i don't know if that is what was said, but i don't know what the problem would be with that. that is exactly what he should be doing. you are a logan act guy? it is ridiculous. the logan act is ridiculous. you guys all know that. reporter: do you know trump's tax returns? mr. nunes: to do what? reporter: to subpoena them. mr. nunes: no, we are not going to do that. i don't think there is any evidence to go after anyone at this point. at that point, it would be up to the attorney general and others. the fbi should always be investigating.
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-- always be investigating leaks. i would hope they are taking the leaks that have occurred over the course of the last couple months very serious. i would hope they would not comment on those, nor should they. [inaudible] mr. nunes: it would all be rolled into the investigation. any other new questions? reporter: your democratic colleagues are not here at this briefing today. why should americans be covenant -- behould be confident confident that what you are doing is in fact, bipartisan? mr. nunes: the whole point of me calling this press availability is i did not want to have what we had last week where there are multiple press meetings, and i had to continue to repeat myself. as i saw these stories roll out, i said, this can't possibly be true because i was very open and transparent with all of you. i was willing to go on the record right away about what has happened or not happened with the "new york times" story.
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i just want to make sure that what i am trying to do is to bring to this more transparency, so that we can have a normal engagement with all of you that is regularly scheduled in advance. for two reasons. one, so it is all on the record so you know we are being transparent. but two, so i don't have to repeat myself all the, same just myself all week on the same thing. reporter: how large is the threat from north korea to national security? mr. nunes: the north korean regime is completely unhinged. they have long been unhinged. the closer they get to the only detonating nuclear weapons, but
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also delivering that nuclear weapon, we have to take that seriously because for a long time, this is not a regime that would by any stretch of the imagination, you could have actual negotiations with. it also is, i think, one of the biggest travesties on the planet, when people find out what is happening in north korea, where you have 20 million people living like animals, i think we should all be concerned about it and somebody who is unhinged, as the north korean dictator is, we should all be concerned about this, and so should the chinese and the russians. reporter: how does this compare to russia? mr. nunes: well, you know, the question will be whether or not -- can there be a new relationship with the russia government? this administration wants to attempt to try that. i am very skeptical of that but to be fair to them president obama tried, president bush tried and so did president clinton right when putin was put in office. reporter: if so what's the
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intensity? mr. nunes: i think the important thing to know -- as you know the house intelligence committee for many years has been very active on cyberthreats and if you look at -- i think one thing you should assume the russians and chinese are very, very good at their cyberactivities so most of the time we are not going to even know they're there. and they continue to expand their capabilities and we, of course, there's all sorts of anti-virus companies out there and people who are watching this threat but, look, everybody's communications are vulnerable. whether it's your email, phone calls, the grid, both the chinese and russians are actively increasing their cyberattack capabilities and we're trying to respond to that. >> at this point do you think you know everybody that f.b.i. knows about intelligence gathering? mr. nunes: look, i always want to know more. i think they have been very upfront. they have been over to brief us
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and hopefully they'll continue to do that. reporter: do you think they probably no more than they shared with you at this point? mr. nunes: look, i think they hit the high points with us. i think we'd like to drill more. any more questions? reporter: you said this is an expansion of a year-long investigation. how would you categorize an expansion? is it the beginning part of the investigation or -- mr. nunes: i am not going to get into what we -- i'd prefer this never would have gotten out we were concerned about russian activities, ok? but it's out there now and what we're doing is we're formalizing a process with my democratic counterpart so we have a nice scoping document on everything we're going to look at as it relates to the election, say, post maybe pre-election until now. what i am trying to be careful
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of here -- i want to warn you. we can't have mccarthyism back in this place. we can't have the government -- the u.s. government or the congress, legislative branch of government chasing down american citizens, hauling them before the congress as if they're some secret russian agents and that's what i am concerned about here is we don't go on some witch-hunt against some americans because they appear in a press story somewhere. reporter: you say you don't want the initial story become public. how public will your findings be? mr. nunes: they will be public. likely what will happen is we will have an interim report of some kind that we'll put out and like often times occurs these investigations -- i'd like for the whole russian investigation
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to stop but i don't have -- as you already know from my previous comments, i don't have any faith that putin's going to negotiate in good faith with us and become an ally or become part of west. reporter: how much of that aspect have you shared with the president -- and you said previous administrations start negotiate in good faith with us out wanting to assess that relationship -- mr. nunes: i don't know if i spoke to the president directly about it. clearly all the advisors around him have. reporter: so once again you say the f.b.i. or the intelligence community have given you the high point of evidence. you say you are at the beginning stages of the investigation. mr. nunes: because there's investigations that the executive branch of government does and there's investigations that the legislative branch of government will do. reporter: so you're confident in your assertion that there is no
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evidence that these three people talked to russian agents even though you have not done your own investigation into it? mr. nunes: as of right now we have no evidence but we'll continue to ask for evidence and look for evidence not only the three americans named in the story but others that have contact with russian officials. one more? reporter: are you any closer to understanding, though, why the president is so -- of valdimir putin or what he says what we do here is the same they do in russia? mr. nunes: i am perplexed by this just as when george w. bush looked into putin's eyes. if you look when president obama was caught in the hot mike saying he would have more flexibility after the election. i was perplexed by that. look, good presidents -- three presidents in a row tried to work with the russian
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government. i think it's a novel concept. i just don't think it's going to work but president trump has been very clear with the american people he's going to try to do that which would make him no different than the last three presidents. all right. guys, thank you very much. >> president trump delivers his first address to a joint session congress tuesday. following the speech, we will have the democratic response. our live coverage congress begia preview show at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span, followed by the president's speech starting at 9:00. intelligence ranking member adam schiff speaks to reporters about the committee investigation of russia and 2016 elections. he says they have reached no


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