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tv   White House Our Story is Consistent on Comey Firing Timeline  CSPAN  May 11, 2017 10:41pm-11:30pm EDT

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on friday, former first lady michelle obama talks about combating childhood obesity live at an event hosted by a partnership for a healthy america on c-span. you can also use a c-span radio app. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's serviceslevision and brought to you by day -- to you today by your cable or satellite advisor. >> tombaugh's are announced details on a new executive order amy to improves -- order aimed at improving cyber security. sarah huckabee sanders fielded
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questions from reporters. this is 45 minutes. >> another light crowd today. good afternoon. first off, before we get started i would like to bring up homeland security adviser
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tom mosser to tell you about executive order on cyber security at the president just signed. he will take a few of your questions and respectfully i ask that you keep your questions for him on the topic of the executive orders. don't worry, i will come back and answer all the rest of your pressing questions as soon as he wraps up. i will turn it over to tom. >> thank you. thank you very much for your time. a couple things positive to report. about one hour ago president trump signed an executive order on cyber security. that executive order is going to keep his promise that he has made to the american people to keep americans safe. i would like to do a few things. if i could preview the executive order for you, we will get through three primary sections and then take questions. among other things, at least an observation for me, i think the trend is going in the wrong direction in cyberspace and it is trying to reverse that on behalf of the american people.
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we have seen increasing attacks from allies, adversaries , primarily nationstates and other nationstate actors. sitting by and doing nothing is no longer an option. president trump's action today is a heartening one. there are three sections in priority order. the first priority for the president and the government is protecting our federal networks. works often contain the american information and data. not defending them is not an option. we have seen past efforts that have succeeded in we need to do everything we can to prevent that from happening in the future. a few things about federal networks. we have practiced one thing and preached another. it is time for us now to implement the risk reduction framework. from this point for department it is something we have asked the are to implement.
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from this point forward, department and agencies will practice what we preach. second, we spend a lot of time and inordinate money protecting antiquated and outdated systems. we saw that with the opm hack and other things. from this point forward the president has issued a preference in federal procurement on federal i.t. for shared services. we have to move to the cloud instead of fracturing our security posture. the third point, the executive order directs all department and agency heads continue key roles but also centralizes risks to review federal i.t. as one enterprise network. if we don't do so we will not be able to adequately understand what risks exist and how to mitigate it. a number of thoughts on that.
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among other things that will be a very difficult task. modernizing is imperative for our security. but modernizing will require a lot of good governance. the president's american technology council will run that on behalf of the president. we have great hope there will be efficiency but also security. i would also note that other countries have taken two or three years to learn what we came up with in a few months and as we cannot promote innovation without first thinking through risk reduction. do you together is in message we would like to encourage private sector folks to adopt. point two is critical infrastructure and cyber security effort. the president has directed the cabinet to begin the hard work of protecting our nation's most critical infrastructures. utilities, financial and health care systems, telecommunications networks. he has directed them to identify additional measures to defend and secure our critical infrastructure and has continued
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to promote the message that do nothing is no longer an option. -- doing nothing is no longer an option. the executive order not only requires departments and agencies to help those operators in the most important ways but to do it in a productive sense. -- important ones but to do it in a proactive sense. his message is towards action. we have seen bipartisan studies over the last eight years, both parties have made powerful recommendations that have not been adopted for various reasons. this executive order adopted best and brightest of those recommendations, in my view. i'm going to stop with those three and take questions. actually, if i could -- >> first, was the russian hack in any weight in him -- way an impetus for this? i have talked to i.t. people who said putting things on the cloud can be problematic for security. what additional security measures will you apply to the cloud to make sure it is not as
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dfl'sas some of the i.t. would be? >> three things -- the third section might be the one i skipped over. it speaks to not only the needs to develop the norms and interoperable open communication system that is the internet -- the u.s. invented the internet and it is time to maintain our values on it -- but it speaks to deterrence policy which is long overdue. the russians are not the only people that operate in a negative way on the internet. other nations are motivated to use cyber capacity and cyber tools to attack our people and the government and data. that is something we can no longer abide. we need to establish rules of the road we also need to deter those who don't want to abide by those rules. to answer your first question, no it was not a russian motivated issue. it was a united states of america motivated issue.
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>> the second question about the cloud. >> we have 190 agencies all trying to develop defenses. i don't think that is a wise approach. there will owe be risks. we still at risk? yes. i will say he has created a cyber secure world. that is not the answer. if we do not move to secured and shared services we will behind the eight ball for a long time. >> sitting around doing nothing, is it your intention at the obama administration, that was its approach to cyber security, sitting around and doing nothing? and he talked about one enterprise network. -- you talked about what enterprise network. does that mean every -- make them all the same or protected in the same way? >> no. we need to do is view the federal government is enterprise
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as opposed to just viewing. each agency has its own enterprise. implementing the president's executive order. their network covers 340,000 employees and contractors. they are responsible and the secretary of each department and agency will remain responsible for securing those networks. we need to look at the federal government as an enterprise as well so we no longer look at opm and say you can defend that with the money for the responsibility. opm is the crown jewel of our security clearances. we want to look at that it said that is a high risk, high cost for us to bear. maybe we should look at this as an enterprise than we would otherwise put into opium looking at the relevant importance to the entire thing. not just their budget, but based on what they do.
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each agency has a responsibility to identify the risk to the president so they can look at what they have done and importantly, what risk they know they are accepting but not mitigating. there is a lot of identified and not remediated risk. that will have to come through a centralized place. we have seen other countries adopt a centralized view. that's the answer to your question. >> the previous administrations approach from your vantage point -- >> i think that the observation is that we have not done the basic block and tackle. thinking of the internet is something that the american people benefit from. what we have done is focus on the federal i.t. of it. looking at this from the perspective of a deterrence strategy, yes, i think the last
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administration had an obligation to do that and it did not. >> does the administration have a view on what might constitute an act of war, what cyber activity might constitute an active war? >> i think the most important answer to your question is that we're not going to draw a redline with a cyber war at this point. it is not within the scope of the executive order. it would also violate the president's primary mission to not telegraphed our punches. if something does something to us that we cannot tolerate, we will act. >> you said the goal is to secure the internet as something that americans use and enjoy. well, the technical standards for most things on the internet are put together by many
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international standards organizations and engineers, things like that that often are not in the united states. has there been any talk of outreach to the sources to build in security for the next generation of protocols? >> absolutely. not just protect the people of america. we have an american first perspective, but the idea of having like-minded people like our allies developing with us the open operative internet is something key to figuring out how we will do fine what is and is not acceptable. we can't cut off the internet at our borders and expected to operate in a viable way. if their ability is coming out of germany, we will take them. >> we do have much of an indication there will be a significant silicon valley or tech leaders coming here. we know we had reports of phone calls with someone like mark
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zuckerberg. who can we expect to see coming to the white house next month? someone like mark zuckerberg working closing with the administration? >> let me tell you the president did or did not talk to. i will probably get that wrong anyway. there is a lot to talk about with private industry. among other things that stuff needs to come into the white house in the appropriate way. we talk on a regular basis to leaders. some technical leaders, some is -- some that are business leaders. my point was that they are going to have a leadership rule in for modernizing our federal i.t.. that has a lot of reasons. there is efficiency and cost savings -- cost savings. i would direct you to the american technology council as you think about efficiency. as an example we have heard numbers that suggests that the federal government spends upwards of $40,000 per employee i.t. costs.
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those costs are so out of line with private industry that secretary ross and others probably have a very easy time making money off it company that is so poorly investing their dollars. i think you'll see that innovation come from that group of leaders. in terms of what you'll see over the next month i would say i don't know how to enter that specifically without like to take the opportunity before sarah pulls me to bank two to -- to thank two or three people. one of them high on the list is mayor giuliani. i would like to thank him for his advice. i would like to thank representative maccoll. a few member others of congress. representative nuñez, senator collins, senator mccain, senator burr. there are a number of people who provided thought leadership and have taken action in pass legislation. it has improved our cyber security over the last eight years. i didn't want to be critical of the last eight years but i want to look forward. >> for obama administration official who dealt with other
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countries and other entities and other countries, he said they were tens of thousands of attempts to hack into government systems daily. can you quantify or confirm or deny that? >> the answer is no. we see that happen that we start getting into a numbers game. what i think would be a better argument right now, not to cut off your reasonable question, but the better answer is for us to figure out a better defense. if we do it based on an individual attack basis we're probably looking at it in the wrong way. >> but was this person correct when they said entities from around the world daily -- >> without numbers the trendline is going in the wrong direction. we see additional attacks come additional numbers and volume in occasionally additional successes that trouble us. that is the best way i can quantify that.
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>> can you just say why the cyber security order was delayed? to come out one day earlier in the administration and there had been talk about concern from silicon valley and tech leaders with the direction it was going in. do you have some sense of the support that this order has or not from the tech world? >> i want to answer and reject part of your question. i think that will be clarifying. first, i will reject one part of your question. we did see concerns, but i don't think they remain. concerns arose when they read the voluntary call that we reduce greatly the number of botnet attacks in the united states. that is going to require voluntary cooperation among owners and operators from service providers, manufacturers
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of goods. those will happen to -- have to happen voluntarily. without the finding who is in and who is out his involuntary operation but we know they have the technical capacity to come together on behalf of the american people and reduce botnets dramatically. the president wants them to do that. the secretary of commerce will facilitate that. we saw a reflection of a concern that there would be a compulsion. broader question of the lake, i don't take that either. i think we have been criticized for doing things too quickly and now we are being criticized for doing things to slowly. maybe we are in the sweet spot. i think the president has hit the timing perfectly. one of the things he directed us to do was to get the money right. he has picked a cabinet full of
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people that no business functions have to follow -- people that know business functions have to follow properly. if you don't have the infrastructure, you have to change her vision or amount of money. off the top of my head i thought you might ask that. the first i answered and that is we do not want to innovate policy on the innovation side. he saw the president signed off last friday on the technology council and he signed today the cyber security order. that was done intentionally. will the president's fy 2018 billionllocated $4.5 across departments involved in cyberspace. the right sizeve
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of money to keep america safe and that might answer all three components of your question. thank you so much for your time. >> about political motivation that the cyber security concerns? i'm sure he'll be happy to come back to questions later. thank you so much. he was wrong on one thing. i would gladly have let him stay up your and talks cyber security all day. a few announcements and i will get to all of your many pressing questions. the president also signed another executive order establishing a bipartisan presidential advisory commission on election integrity. this will be chaired by vice president mike pants. that is what the commission is tasked with doing. the bipartisan commission will be made up of around a dozen members, including current and
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former secretaries of state with kansas secretary of state kurt co. bark serving as vice chair. it will also deal with election fraud detection and voter integrity efforts. five additional members that have been announced are connie gardner, matthew dunlap, the secretary of state of maine, kim blackwell, former secretary of state of ohio, and christy mccormick, a commissioner on the election assistance commission. the commissioner will review policies that enhance or undermined the american people's confidence in the integrity of federal elections and provide a report that identifies older abilities in improper -- identifies vulnerabilities in improper voting. will be and hearings
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open to the public for comment an input and we will share updates as we have them. secretary purdue is in the agriculture department is planning to reorganize to divide better service to the american people. with the barges of the ohio river behind him, many of which contain products beginning a journey that will take them will recognize the importance of growing international trade due to the agricultural sector of the economy. immigration and customs enforcement will hold a press conference at 2:15 today to announce the results of a successful recent gang surge operation. the president has made enforcement of our nation's immigration laws a top priority, and today's announcement will underscore not only that commitment but his focus on targeting transnational gangs and prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.
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also today, secretary mattis met with the turkish prime minister in london to discuss a range of bilateral security issues, and as secretary reiterated the u.s.'s commitment to provide -- commitment to protecting our nato allies and providing security in iraq and syria. one other thing i want to point out. last night obamacare suffered another serious blow. aetna announced the decision to pull out the nebraska and delaware marketplaces which it ends their participation in exchanges completely. they've sustained hundreds of millions of dollars over the last several years and is projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017. the company attributes those losses to structural issues within the exchanges, quote, that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits and subsequent risk pool deterioration, end quote. this latest news adds to the mountain of evidence that obamacare has completely failed the american people and
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reinforces why there is no time to waste in repealing and replacing this law before it takes our entire health care system down with it. finally, i know -- hold those hands. i know we sent out a timeline regarding the firing of director comey yesterday because there seemed to be some misperceptions about the meeting between the president and the attorney general and the deputy attorney general on monday. but i'm going to read it to you all again just to make sure we're all on the same page because i want the sequence of events to be perfectly clear to everyone. the president over the last several months lost confidence in director comey. after watching director comey's testimony last wednesday, the president was strongly inclined to remove him. on monday, the president met with the attorney general and the deputy attorney general and they discussed reasons for removing the director. the next day, tuesday, may 9, the deputy attorney general sent his written recommendation to the attorney general and the attorney general sent his written recommendation to the
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president. hopefully that clears up some of those things. and with that i will take your questions. reporter: sarah, why did the lester holt interview the president had made a number of remarks, why did the president think that james comey was a showboater and a grandstander? >> i think based on the numerous appearances he made and i think it's probably pretty evident in his behavior over the last year or so with the back and forth and i think that it speaks pretty clearly. those words don't leave a lot of room for interpretation so i think it's pretty clear what he meant. reporter: when were these three conversations that the president had with james comey whether he was under investigation or not? he said one was at dinner, two phone calls. was that since january 20 or when? sarah: i don't have the exact date when those phone calls took date.
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reporter: two parts of the comey question regarding the interview the president just gave. first off, isn't it inappropriate for the president of the united states to ask the f.b.i. director directly if he's under investigation? sarah: no, i don't believe it is. reporter: one of the conversations the president said happened at a dinner where the f.b.i. director was asking to stay on as f.b.i. director. don't you see how that's a conflict of interest? the f.b.i. director saying he wants to keep his job and the president is asking whether or not he's under investigation? sarah: i don't see that as a conflict of interest and neither do the many legal scholars and others that have been commenting on it for the last hour. so, no, i don't see that as an issue. reporter: sarah, the other thing i want to ask you is, i asked you directly yesterday -- related to comey -- i asked you directly yesterday the president already decided to fire james comey when he met with the deputy attorney general and attorney general.
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and you said, no. also, the vice president of the united states said directly to the president took the recommendation of the deputy attorney general to remove the director of the f.b.i. sean spicer said it's all him, meaning the deputy attorney general. the president decided to fire james comey. so why were so many people giving answers that just weren't correct? were you guys in the dark? was the vice president misled again? sarah: i know you love to report we were misled and we want to create -- hold on, jonathan. i let you finish and read off every single one of those statements. unless you want to trade places i think it's my turn now. i think it's pretty simple. i hadn't had a chance to have the conversation directly with the president to say -- i had several conversations with him but i didn't ask that question directly. had you already made that decision, i went off of the information that i had when i answered your question. i since had the conversation with him right before i walked
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on today, and he laid it out very clearly. he had already made that decision. he had been thinking about it for months, which i did say yesterday and have said many times since. and wednesday i think was the final straw that pushed him and the recommendation he got from the deputy attorney general just further solidified his decision. and, again, i think reaffirmed that he made the right one. reporter: was the vice president -- was the vice president in the dark too? sarah: nobody was in the dark, jonathan. you want to create this false narrative. if we want to talk about contradicting statements and people that were maybe in the dark, how about the democrats? let's read a few of them. you want to talk about them, here's what democrats said not long ago about comey. harry reid said comey should resign and be investigated by the senate. senator chuck schumer said, i don't have confidence in him any longer. senator bernie sanders said it not be a bad thing for the american people if comey resigned. nancy pelosi said comey was not in the right job. former d.n.c. chair, debbie wasserman schultz said comey
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couldn't serve in a neutral and credible way. obama's advisor valerie the gentlelady reserves the balance of her time urged him to fire comby. just yesterday representative maxine waters said hillary clinton would have fired comey. if you want to talk about people in the dark? our story is consistent. the president is the only person that can can fire the director of the f.b.i. the president made the decision. it was the right decision. the people that are in the dark today are the democrats. they want to come out. they want to talk about all of these -- they love comey and how great he was. look at the facts. the facts don't lie. their statements are all right there. i think it's extremely clear that -- and frankly i think it's kind of sad. in washington we finally had something that i think we should have all been able to agree on and that was that director comey shouldn't have been at the f.b.i. but the democrats want to play partisan games and i think
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that's the most glaring thing that's been left out of all your process stories. reporter: sarah, you said from the podium yesterday director comey lost confidence of the rank and file of the f.b.i. on capitol hill today, the acting director of the f.b.i. directly contradicted that. what led you and the white house to believe that he had lost the confidence in the rank and file of the f.b.i. when the acting director says it's exactly the opposite? sarah: well, i can speak to my own personal experience, i heard from countless members of the f.b.i. that are grateful and thankful for the president's decision and i think that, you know, we may have to agree to disagree. i am sure there are some people that are disappointed but have certainly heard from a large number of individuals and that's just myself and i don't know that many people in the f.b.i. reporter: what you were saying about the democrats, clearly they didn't like james comey too much after the october 28 announcement that he was reopening the investigation into hillary clinton's emails. their point now is that timing is different. that this was in the middle of an investigation. do they have a point?
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sarah: not at all. i think one made that point far better than i could today when he said there's been no impediment to the investigation, and as i said before, any investigation that was taking place on monday is still taking place today. so i think that's, again, another sad story by the democrats that they're trying to peddle. reporter: sarah, thank you. another comment from the hearing today. the acting deputy attorney general said -- sorry. mccabe said he considers the investigation into russian meddling in the election to be highly significant. in the past the president said that said the investigation was a hoax and he questioned even recently maybe it wasn't russia, might have been china. does the president consider this investigation to be highly significant? sarah: look, i think he would love nothing more than for this
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investigation to continue to continue to its completion. i think one of the reasons that the hoax component is the conclusion component that has been the false narrative that you guys have been pushing for the better part of a year. i think that's the piece that he is repeatedly talking about being the hoax. reporter: but in terms of the threats to national security, does he take that seriously? does he think that's significant? sarah: of course he takes national security seriously. to hint he doesn't i think is to misunderstand this president completely. from the very moment that he stepped onto the campaign stage to the day that he took the oath of office to become president, he's talked about national security. he's made that one of the biggest priorities in the administration. you just saw tom talking about cybersecurity on all fronts, whether it's securing the border, whether it's protecting people abroad, here, the president has been focused.
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reporter: was a threat to u.s. national security? sarah: you know, i haven't had a chance to ask about that. i think we're waiting on the final conclusion about that investigation. look, i think anytime we have somebody interfering with our election, that would be considered a problem and i think the president would certainly recognize that. matthew. reporter: two questions. first as been mentioned, vice president pence said yesterday the firing was based on the recommendation of the attorney general and deputy attorney general. we know now that's not true. was the vice president misled again or did he misled the american people? sarah: i believe i answered that question. reporter: i don't believe i caught it. the vice president said yesterday the president was to accept and support the decision of the deputy attorney general and attorney general. sarah: he certainly accepted the deputy -- that doesn't mean that he wouldn't still accept his recommendation. i mean, they're on the same page.
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like, why are we arguing about the semantics of whether he accepted it? they agreed. i mean, i'm not sure how he didn't accept the deputy attorney general's recommendation when they agreed with one another. reporter: if i may switch topics slightly. if you knew -- if the president knew he was going to do this, why ask for those memos to begin with? why not just fire comey? why have these memos put out and explain he did it because of the memos but then say he was going to do it either way? i'm confused why he got those memos? sarah: look, i think he wanted to get the feedback from the director of the attorney general who the director of the f.b.i. reports to. again, it further solidified the decision he made. the only person that can fire comey was the president. he made that decision. it was clearly the right one as evidence by all of the comments, both by house and senate
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democrats, republicans, and many people within the f.b.i. i think instead of getting so lost in the process that this happened at 12:01 or 12:02, did he fire him because he wore a red tie or blue tie, he fired him because he didn't fit the job. it's that simple. it shouldn't be a complicated process. the president knew that director comey was not up to the task. he decided he wasn't the right person for the job. he wanted somebody that could bring credibility back to the f.b.i. that had been lost over this last several months. the president made that decision. he made it. he moved forward. it was the right one. i don't think that, you know, the back and forth makes that much difference. reporter: sarah -- do you follow me? sarah: yes, sorry. reporter: sarah, going back to what you said about democrats. yes, there are some democrats that said comey should have been fired but they're questioning the timing. why now even though the deputy attorney general did do that they're questioning why now? sarah: i think i've answered this. i hate to, again, just keep repeating myself.
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we're kind of getting lost on the same questions here. he he had decided that he wasn't fit. there's never going to be a good time to fire someone. whether it's on a tuesday or a friday. he decided he wanted to give director comey a chance. he did. and he felt like he wasn't up to the task. reporter: and then last question. monday, sean spicer when he was at the podium he said after the testimony with clapper and yates he said -- he talked about there was no collusion but he said the investigation into russia should continue. which one is it, should it continue or end because spicer said the president want it had to end monday and then yesterday you said it should continue. sarah: i said we want it to come to its completion. we want it to continue until it's finished which we'd like to happen soon so we can focus on the things that we think most americans, frankly, care a whole lot more about.
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i think the people in this room are obsessed with this story a lot more than the people that we talk to and we hear from every day. we'd like to be focused on the problems that they have. that's the point is we'd love for this to be completed. we also want it to be completed with integrity. i think that was one of the other reasons frankly i think the decision the made made was the right one because i think it adds credibility and integrity back to the f.b.i. where a lot of people frankly were questioning this. reporter: we now know the president fired the f.b.i. director with six years less on his 10-year term because he was a showboater, grandstander. how important is it for the next f.b.i. director not be a showboater or a grandstander? how important is it that this person show loyalty to the president? sarah: i think the main factor they're looking for is they're loyal to the justice system, they're loyal to the american people. this president is looking for somebody who can come in that is
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independent and has the support, i think, across the board, whether it's republicans, democrats, members of the f.b.i. and certainly the american people. again, it wasn't just one thing that caused the president to make this decision. a large part of why he made this decision was because he didn't feel like director comey was up to the job. he had watched it was just an erosion of confidence that he had in his ability to carry out the task that needed to be done. he's looking for somebody to do that. jordan. reporter: thank you, sarah. two questions. first, i want to talk about the rank and file of the f.b.i. don't you think the acting director of the f.b.i. has a better handle on the rank and file than you do? sarah: look, i am not going to get a back and forth on who has the better handle. again, i heard from multiple individuals that are very happy about the president's decision, and i know that it was the right one. i believe that most of the people that we've talked to also believe it was the right decision to make.
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reporter: and about the meeting yesterday between president trump and the russian foreign minister. can you walk us through how a photographer from either a russian state news outlet or the russian government got into that meeting and got those photographs out? sarah: yes. the same way they would whoever the president was meeting with when it comes to a foreign minister or a head of state. both individuals have official photographers in the room. we had an official photographer in the room as did they. reporter: usually independent media in the u.s. is typically invited into those meetings. why didn't that happen in this case? sarah: it varies actually. not always particularly. sometimes the protocol when it is not the head of state and prior to the president meeting with the head of state that wouldn't always take place. so, again, proper protocol was followed in this procedure. reporter: has the president been questioned by the f.b.i. with regard to their investigation to russian or interference in the election?
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sarah: not that i am aware of. reporter: does he expect to be? sarah: i haven't had the answer to ask that question. i am not trying to guess. major. reporter: there is a general protocol that discourages conversation with the president of the united states by the f.b.i. director about anything that might involve the president. that's a general aspect of the protocol. to ensure there is no confusion about political interference or any kind or even the impression or the appearance of political influence on the f.b.i. that's the standard procedure. you just sat here said it's appropriate for the president to ask if he's under investigation. why is it appropriate if that's not consistent for the guidelines at the justice department to avoid that very encounter? sarah: we talked to, again, several legal scholars weighed in on this and said there was nothing wrong for the president asking that question. reporter: so the department should change their protocol? sarah: i am speaking to the information i have. it's not what i think. look at the people that followed
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up the interview. there were multiple attorneys that came on after and specifically stated that it was not inappropriate, it wasn't wrong for the president to do so. so, again, i can only base it off. i am not an attorney. i don't play one on tv. what i can tell you is what i heard from legal minds and people that actually are attorneys and that's their opinion. so i have to trust the justice system on that fact too. reporter: would you say based on the experience that you and sean and this communications office had tuesday and wednesday that you were given all of the best information to relay to the american public through us and your job is to relay that information to the american public, we're only intermediaries, about what happened with this firing -- sarah: you seem to take a much proactive approach most of the time but i will take intermediaries today. i think we were given the information that we could have at that time. it was a quick-moving process. we took the information we had as best we have it and got it
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out to the american people as quickly as we could. reporter: and would you say that that information was accurate then or more accurate now? sarah: i would say after having a conversation with the president you don't get much more accurate than that. reporter: by that standard, should reporters and the country essentially wait for a pronouncement from the president before believing that which is stated on his behalf by the white house communications staff? sarah: look, major, i am not going to get into a back and forth. like we have to have a direct quote every single time. in this process, i gave you the best information i had at the moment. i still don't think that it contradicts the president's decision. he doesn't want to get lost in the process. it's very simple. -- reporter: lost in the process, with all respect, sarah. sarah: i'm answering those questions. it's very simple. the president decided to fire director comey. nobody else gets to make that
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decision. and he made it. he stands by it as do the rest of us. thank you. mike. reporter: two questions. following up on the -- back in i think october of last year, the former president was highly criticized by members of the f.b.i. and other outside of the f.b.i. for making comments on television that were sort of suggested that he had an opinion about how the hillary clinton email case should go. and the charge was that he was interfering, that he was putting his thumb on the scale of an ongoing active investigation. there was a lot of criticism from republicans on that. talk to me how that -- how what this president did in his series of conversations with the f.b.i. director doesn't go far beyond what former president obama did and to major's point, how can you argue regardless of maybe some pundits on tv who might be saying otherwise, how can you argue that doesn't have an
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appearance of trying to influence an investigation that's actively going on? sarah: look, i think the president's encouraged this investigation to take place and complete so we can move forward. we've been as compliant as possible throughout the entire process. we will continue to do so. nobody wants this investigation to go forward and complete and end with integrity more than the president. reporter: people clearly want to know which way he wants it to come out. sarah: on the right side. i think he wants it to come out -- he's very well aware of the actions or actions he did not take. i think he's ready for the rest of you guys to understand that as well. reporter: and one last question just to follow-up on the f.b.i. thing. and i'm not trying to be overly combative here but you said now today and i think you said again yesterday that you personally have talked to countless f.b.i. officials, employees since this
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happened. sarah: correct. reporter: like, really? sarah: emails, text messages, absolutely. reporter: 60, 70? sarah: look, we are not going to get into a numbers game. i heard from a large number of individuals that work at the f.b.i. that said they're very happy with the president's decision. i don't know what else i can say. reporter: sarah there is a report from multijournal, the deputy attorney general -- [inaudible] correct the versions coming out. is that accurate? does that contribute knuckleball -- does i contribute to that over the last 48 hours? sarah: i am not aware of a specific ask for a correction. i know we want to make sure we get this right and that's been our -- you know, what we attempted to do all along. it's the reason we sent the update last night. i know there were several questions after the briefing yesterday and i addressed that
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again in the opening today. our goal is to get this as right and clear as we can. reporter: did the president know that comey had sought [inaudible] before he made the decision? sarah: no. based on what i've seen, the department of justice has also pushed back and said that's not accurate. but i would refer you to them. reporter: was it a mistake for the white house to try to pin the decision to fire james comey on rod rosenstein? sarah: i don't think so. i think his recommendation, again, it was extremely clear. the president makes the decision. the buck stops with him. nobody's ever tried to say that this wasn't the president's decision, that he wasn't the one that carried it out and to try to, i think, complate those things is not what took place. we know that the president's been thinking about this for a long time.
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wednesday it certainly, i think, expedited that, the director's testimony last wednesday, and then getting the recommendation from the attorney -- deputy attorney general -- excuse me -- i think just further solidified the president's decision. reporter: just to clarify one thing you said. the president encouraged this investigation into russia. he wants to see a completion sooner rather than later. how has he encouraged it if he is [inaudible] sarah: there are multiple people part of this. you have the house committee, the senate committee. look, again, the point is we want this to come to its conclusion. we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity and we think by removing director comey taken steps to make that happen. thanks so much, guys. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> why not have an independent investigation, then?
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>> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. syracuse university law school professor william banks discusses the law pertaining to special counsel. senior global security science edward lyman will talk about safety and security in nuclear waste. we will also look at the problem of teen suicide. she will discuss parent concerns fears"13 reasons why" and it could lead to copycat suicides. be sure to watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern friday morning. join the discussion. former first lady michelle obama talks about combating childhood obesity
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starting at 10:30 eastern on c-span. you can watch online at or use the c-span radio app. on friday, tom perez and former republican national committee chair michael steele discuss how to find common ground in washington. our coverage begins at noon eastern at c-span2,, and the free c-span radio app. "newsmakers" with senator chuck grassley. he speaks about the firing of james comey, his expectations for the next fbi director, and senate efforts to come up with the health care law. this is 30 minutes.


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