At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane operation on Wednesday, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was asked about the validity of the FISA warrant against Carter Page and said if he knew then what he knows now he would not have signed the warrant application. “I want to echo what you said. Most FBI agents, most law enforcement officers risk their lives and do a job to protect our country, and we appreciate them,” Graham stated. “But every now and then, things get off script, and that’s what brings us here today. You signed a warrant application in June of I think 2017 to get the Carter Page warrant renewed.” “If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application?” Graham asked. “No, I would not,” Rosenstein answered. Full transcript:
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Rosenstein. And I want to echo what you said. Most FBI agents, most law enforcement officers risk their lives and do a job to protect our country, and we appreciate them. But every now and then, things get off script, and that’s what brings us here today. You signed a warrant application in June of I think 2017 to get the Carter Page warrant renewed. Is that correct? ROD ROSENSTEIN, FMR. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. GRAHAM: Okay. Have you looked at the Horowitz report? ROSENSTEIN: Yes, I have. I have it with me, Senator. GRAHAM: If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application? ROSENSTEIN: No, I would not. GRAHAM: And the reason you wouldn’t have is because Mr. Horowitz found that exculpatory information was withheld from the court. Is that correct? ROSENSTEIN: Among other reasons, yes, sir. GRAHAM: Yeah. And somebody actually altered an email. ROSENSTEIN: Correct. GRAHAM: Right. Right. So, there were 17 violations that Mr. Horowitz found. But I can’t stress enough to the country that he found the most egregious of all, the dossier was the only reason the Carter page warrant was issued to begin with. And in January 2017, the man who provided Steele with all the information told the FBI it was a bunch of garbage and they used it twice more. What kind of country is this? What happens to people who do that? Did you know that? You didn’t know that, did you? ROSENSTEIN: No, sir. GRAHAM: Do you think McCabe knew that? ROSENSTEIN: I–I hope not, Senator. I do not personally know. GRAHAM: Was he in charge of the investigation? ROSENSTEIN: Yes, he was. GRAHAM: Did he ever lie to you? ROSENSTEIN: Mr. McCabe, I–I don’t believe, Senator, that there are any occasions in which identified that he lied me. GRAHAM: Okay. Did he ever say anything looking back that is perplexing to you? ROSENSTEIN: Well, that’s a very broad question, Senator. I had a lot of conversations with (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Do you think he was truthful to you? ROSENSTEIN: Well, I believed, Senator, that Mr. McCabe was not fully candid with me. He certainly wasn’t forthcoming. In particular, Senator, the–with regard to Mr. Comey’s memoranda of his interviews with the president and with regard to the FBI’s suspicions about the president, Mr. McCabe did not reveal those to me for at least a week after he became acting director despite the fact that we had repeated conversations focusing on this investigation. And for whatever reasons, Mr. McCabe was not forthcoming with me about that. He has subsequently said publicly in public comments he’s made about the investigation that his team had been leading up to certain important decisions for some time. From my perspective, Senator, they’d been conducting this investigation for, I believe approximately nine months. GRAHAM: How much did you rely on Mr. McCabe’s statements to sign the warrant? How much did that factor into whether or not you thought the warrant application was accurate? ROSENSTEIN: With regard to the warrant application, Senator, I wouldn’t say that I relied on Mr. McCabe’s statements. I certainly had an understanding of what Mr. McCabe had told me, but the document stands for itself. It’s 100 pages. GRAHAM: Right. ROSENSTEIN: And I relied on what I understood to be in the application. GRAHAM: You did a scope letter, I think August 2017, after you appointed Mueller. You know what I’m talking about? ROSENSTEIN: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Memorandum, I suppose. Who prepared that? ROSENSTEIN: Well, Senator, the–I don’t know who exactly prepared it. I know how it came about, if you’d like me to explain that. GRAHAM: Yeah, please, very quickly. ROSENSTEIN: The–I’m not sure how quickly I can do it. But I’d asked Mr. Mueller to look at the whole–to look at all the relevant, potentially relevant matters. GRAHAM: Where did the information in the document come from? Did it come from the Mueller team? ROSENSTEIN: I believe it came from the Mueller team, but it came to me through the team that I had set up to interface with the Mueller team. GRAHAM: Okay, the team that you sent that interfaced with the Mueller team, did they make the conclusions that you need to be looking at Papadopoulos and all these people for colluding with Russia? ROSENSTEIN: I think it’s important, Senator, to recognize that one of the reasons I was very reluctant to release these documents publicly is because we investigate people who are not necessarily guilty. And so I didn’t have any presumption that these folks were guilty of anything. GRAHAM: Did you believe they– ROSENSTEIN: The termination was– GRAHAM: Did you believe they–did you believe they committed a crime? ROSENSTEIN: I believed that there was–I understood that there was predication to investigate it. I didn’t believe– GRAHAM: Where did that come from? Who gave you that predication? ROSENSTEIN: Well, it came from information that came to me from the FBI, initially from (INAUDIBLE) McCabe. GRAHAM: Was it from Strzok and Page? Are those the people preparing all these documents? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t know who was preparing. GRAHAM: Were they in charge? Were they still the investigators for Mueller early on? ROSENSTEIN: My understanding, Senator, is that Mr. Page and Mr. Strzok were working with the Mueller (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Okay, what input, if any, did they have into the information contained in the memo? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t know the answer to that. GRAHAM: Okay. Who provided the information in the memo? ROSENSTEIN: I’m sorry, which memo are we talking about? GRAHAM: The one where you lay out the scope of the investigation. ROSENSTEIN: That came through discussions between Mr. Mueller’s team and (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: But did anybody on your team recommend you look at Papadopoulos? Where did the–where did the idea that George Papadopoulos working with the Russians came from? ROSENSTEIN: These matters, Senator, I believe were already open when I arrived. GRAHAM: Yeah, the point is that they were open. These are the same people doing Crossfire Hurricane, and they gave you a document to sign, and here’s my belief, that they prepared the document, that they defined the scope of their own investigation. Is that fair to say, that you were just a conduit for it? ROSENSTEIN: Well, I’m relying on information that’s coming up (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Yeah, well you didn’t do an independent investigation yourself, did you? ROSENSTEIN: My job isn’t to do the investigation (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: No, did you do–you didn’t do an–you basically relied on what they gave you. Is that fair to say? ROSENSTEIN: Relied on the information that– GRAHAM: Yeah, just like you did with the warrant. ROSENSTEIN: Correct. GRAHAM: Okay, so the same people that gave you the warrant application also gave you the scope investigation for Mueller. So that’s why we’re here, to find out how much we can trust these people. Now to appoint a special counsel there’s got to be evidence, criminal investigation of a person or a matter is warranted. What was the crime that you were looking at? ROSENSTEIN: So I think, Senator, it’s important to understand first of all that’s what’s required under the regulation. GRAHAM: Right. ROSENSTEIN: It’s actually not required to appoint a special counsel (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Okay. Well, what was–was there a crime being looked at or not? ROSENSTEIN: In this particular case, yes. GRAHAM: What was the crime? ROSENSTEIN: The original crime, underlying crime was the Russian influence operations, hacking– GRAHAM: Okay, can you tell us what evidence existed that General Flynn was colluding with the Russians in May 2017? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t–the evidence against General Flynn–first of all, Senator– GRAHAM: What evidence existed that General Flynn was colluding with the Russians in 2017, May 2017? ROSENSTEIN: I can’t comment about that case, Senator, beyond what’s in the public (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: Did you know that in January 4, 2017 the FBI field office said we recommend that General Flynn be removed from Crossfire Hurricane? ROSENSTEIN: No, I did not. GRAHAM: Okay. Would that have mattered if you had known that? ROSENSTEIN: Yes. GRAHAM: Okay, did you know that they had recordings of Mr. Papadopoulos somewhere overseas saying no, I never worked with the Russians, words to the effect that if the campaign did, that would be treason. Did you know that existed? ROSENSTEIN: No, I did not. GRAHAM: Okay, did you know that Carter Page–how many times did Carter Page meet with Donald Trump? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t know the answer to that, Senator. GRAHAM: Okay, how many times did Papadopoulos meet with Donald Trump? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t know the answer to that either. GRAHAM: Well, I can tell you. Zero, in any meaningful way. The dossier claims that Manafort (PH) was–that Carter Page was a (INAUDIBLE) Manafort passing along Russian information. Do you–are you aware of the fact that Carter Page has said numerous times, I never talked to Manafort? ROSENSTEIN: Yes, I am. GRAHAM: Okay, so the point is when you made this appointment, the people named in it, there’s zero evidence they were working with the Russians, zero. And this went on for two years, $25 million, and people had their lives turned upside down, that General Flynn in January 4, 2017, the FBI agents who had been looking at him said they recommended he be dropped, and our good old buddy, Strzok, said no, the seventh floor wants to look at him. If you had known that, would you have asked more questions? ROSENSTEIN: Yes. GRAHAM: Okay. Anyway, thank you for your service. Knowing what you know now, do you have any reservations about making the Mueller appointment, given the fact that all the people named in this scope letter, there’s like zero evidence by January–May 2017 they were working with the Russians? Do you have any concerns at all? ROSENSTEIN: I think, Senator, there are two issues. The first is whether the investigation was appropriate, and the second is whether it was appropriate to assign it to Mr. Mueller. And the decision that I made obviously was based on the information I had at the time. You need to make decisions (INAUDIBLE) GRAHAM: I’m not arguing with you about assigning it to Mueller. I’m saying was there a legitimate reason to believe that any of the people named in this letter were actively working with the Russians in August 2017? ROSENSTEIN: In August 2017– GRAHAM: That’s when you signed the memo. ROSENSTEIN: My understanding, Senator, that there was reasonable suspicion. GRAHAM: What is it? What was it? ROSENSTEIN: Based in–now again, Senator, the investigation is concluded, and these people were not conspiring with the Russians. The information, though, at the time included– GRAHAM: Well why did we have the Mueller investigation at all if we had concluded they weren’t working with the Russians? ROSENSTEIN: I don’t believe we had concluded it at that time, Senator. GRAHAM: I’m saying January 4, 2017 the FBI had discounted Flynn. There was no evidence that Carter Page worked with the Russians. The dossier was a bunch of garbage. And Papadopoulos is all over the place not knowing he’s being recorded, denying working with the Russians. Nobody’s ever been prosecuted for working with the Russians. The point is the whole concept that the campaign was colluding with the Russians, there was no there there in August 2017. Do you agree with that general statement or not? ROSENSTEIN: I agree with that general statement.