MTP Exclusive: Senator Dianne Feinstein Talks With Chuck Todd on Russian Cyber Attacks, FBI Director Comey and His Future

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) exclusively joined "Meet the Press" this morning, talking with moderator Chuck Todd about the latest intelligence on the Russian cyber-attacks and if FBI Director Comey should be fired.

CHUCK TODD: Welcome back. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced on Friday that it will conduct a bipartisan investigation into, among other things, Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California knows as much about anyone-- as anyone about the intel community. She's the former chair and vice-chair of the committee. Still on it. And she joins me now. Senator Feinstein, welcome back to the program.                       

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Chuck.

 

Full Video of Senator Dianne Feinstein's Meet The Press Interview                                  

 

CHUCK TODD: Before I get to the investigation, I got to ask you about what John Lewis said and about Donald Trump's response and just get your response.

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I understand why John Lewis feels the way he does. This is a very fearful and divided nation right now. And the Trumps have not done anything to bring it together. I really regret the president-elect's response to what John Lewis said. It's without understanding of his history, of what he went through, of the fact that this is Martin Luther King weekend.

And there is so much fear in this country. I come from the biggest state. I get tens of thousands of phone calls and e-mails of people that are fearful of what's going to happen. It's the job of this new president to reassure people that he is not just the president of his base but he is the president of everyone. And that means a coming together. Now--

                                  

CHUCK TODD: Reince Priebus said it was, that he thought President Obama should play a role in healing more. What did you make of that statement?

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, President Obama has played a role for eight years in doing just that. We're talking about the next period of four years. And the man that's going to head that four-year period really needs to step up and recognize that he represents the whole country and he represents people of all different races and creeds who are looking for opportunity, hope, and for the values that this country carries high.

                                  

CHUCK TODD: Let me go to the investigation. You've seen the unclassified versions of this intel report. Do you have any doubt in your mind that Russia tried to interfere in the election? And then second, do you believe it altered the outcome?

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: The answer is yes on both cases.

CHUCK TODD: You truly-- you believe--

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I tru--

CHUCK TODD: --it altered the outcome.

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --that's what I believe. I've had all of the major classified briefings. I have been astonished at what has been a two-year effort at Russia to spearfish, to hack, to provide disinformation, propaganda, wherever it really could. And I think this has been a very sophisticated effort.

I think in our classified sessions, we will be able to get down to the depth and breadth of it. I hope so. I spoke yesterday twice with Senator Warner, who is our new vice chairman. And he reviewed with me the terms of this agreement. This investigation has to be full and robust. If it isn't, both of us will go toward an outside panel. But we cannot ignore what has happened. To ignore it is really to commit it--

                                  

CHUCK TODD: What can--

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --commit ourselves--              

CHUCK TODD: What is the s--       

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --to a very bad future.    

CHUCK TODD: What is the scope? I'll be honest, I read it, and it comes across as-- it's an investigation into the investigation.       

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well--

                                  

CHUCK TODD: --it's an investigation into the intel community's assessment. Are you-- Is the intel community going to do its own investigation? And maybe, you know--

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, let me--

CHUCK TODD: Okay.             

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --it's a review of the intelligence that informed the declassified report about Russia's interference in the election. Now last night I read the declassified report. The declassified report is pretty certain about what Russia did. There are some particulars, which are classified, which are not part of it. But it's pretty clear that the hacking was in both political parties, but with the aim of hurting--

                                  

CHUCK TODD: Right.                

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: --Hillary Clinton. And then, if Hillary Clinton were to win, the aim clearly was to weaken her.                          

CHUCK TODD: Are you investiga-- but is there a new aspect? Are you investigating the specific allegations of whether or not there was Trump ca-- any member of the Trump campaign was somehow in contact with Russian officials?                          

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, that hasn't been discussed. And I really can't answer that question right now. I can say that it should be full and robust with respect to who gave the order to do this, who participated in it, exactly what they did, and how they carried it out, and what it portends for the future. That's my view of what the intelligence committee should do.

                      

CHUCK TODD: Do you truly believe, though, it's going to be a thorough enough investigation that it will get to the bottom of it, as far as the American--

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Yeah.

CHUCK TODD: --public's concerned?

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: We'll see. I know that we have to. If we can't this way, we will another way. But look, I'm certainly not going to leave this in limbo. Because this is the future of America. It's the future of democracy. And if we can't carry out an election without disinformation being pumped into it by another country, we've got a huge destruction of our system going on. So we have to be full and robust in this look. And I trust that we are. I have worked with Chairman Burr for a long time. And I believe that this can happen. If it doesn't, we will sing out loud and clear.

                                  

CHUCK TODD: Let me buttonhole something, though. You said you believe that Russia's interference altered the outcome of the election.

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I do. I believe that with--

                                  

CHUCK TODD: So do you believe he's a legitimately-- yeah.

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, it's a combination of a couple of things. I think that, and I think the F.B.I., in the October surprise, I call it an October surprise, of announcing a subsequent investigation, did have an impact. And I believe the Clinton people believe it did, too. They were polling and they were up, and all of that diminished.

                                  

CHUCK TODD: All right. You brought up James Comey. Is he still fit to serve as director of the N.B.-- F.B.I., in your opinion?

                                  

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that's a decision to come when everybody learns much more about what drove this. I think the--             

CHUCK TODD: It should wait until after the--                      

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Yeah.                       

CHUCK TODD: --inspector general's report?                        

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I think the inspector general's report is critical in this. Because there are rumors of all kinds of conflicts within the F.B.I. that focused on the director. The director, I think, was torn. I think he did what he thought was right. In my view, it turned out very much not to be right, because the F.B.I. doesn't announce investigations--                

CHUCK TODD: You're not ready to say he should be fired yet.                    

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Not yet.                              

 

CHUCK TODD: Senator Dianne Feinstein--                    

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you.                  

CHUCK TODD: --Democrat from California. By the way, quite a week.                      

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Quite a week.               

CHUCK TODD: Confirmation hearings, new pacemaker--

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Yes.

CHUCK TODD: --and right back here--

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: It is.

CHUCK TODD: --as healthy as ever.                     

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you.                

CHUCK TODD: Well done.                     

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you.

 

Transcripts and all content within this post is used with permission of: NBC NEWS' "MEET THE PRESS WITH CHUCK TODD"

Attached photo of Senator Diane Feinstein on set courtesy of "NBC News/William Plowman" and used with permission.

 

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