Intel chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to intervene in investigations

Lance Nichols
June 11, 2017

Though Coats refused to say whether Trump asked him about the Russian Federation probe or mentioned Comey, he and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers both testified that they did not feel pressure from Trump or the White House to influence the Russian Federation investigation. But a report in The Washington Post that Trump went further than just asking Coats to rebut former FBI Director James Comey in public increases the intrigue.

KING: Well we're going to be having a closed session in a few hours. So I don't - I can understand the White House saying, yeah, we weren't - he wasn't the subject of the investigation as of the date of those conversations.

Heinrich reminded McCabe that he was being asked about his conversations with Comey, not the president. Rogers and Coats stated that they felt it would not be appropriate to discuss such matters.

Warner, along with several other senators, kept pushing and ultimately expressed frustration with the intelligence chiefs. Coats, who was preparing for his confirmation hearing, felt blindsided, officials said.

He then quickly added that he would first have to "work through the legal counsel at the White House" to determine what he could say even behind closed doors. Neither would directly answer that query.

Heinrich: "Well, I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes".

Wednesday's hearing was supposed to focus on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that governs how US intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance and collect information between foreign powers and "agents of foreign powers" suspected of terrorism. In the statement, Comey says Trump asked him for "loyalty" at a January dinner.

Later in the hearing, Sen.

The focus of this hearing was supposed to be on the law surrounding the unmasking of names in surveillance operations.

He declined, for example, to answer a question in open session about Vnesheconombank (VEB), a Russian government-owned development bank linked to President Vladimir Putin.

Rogers said, "Because I feel it is inappropriate".


KING: What you feel isn't relevant, Admiral.

"At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer", Burr warned them.

Angus King why he would not answer a direct question about the alleged Trump conversation, Rogers said simply, "I feel it is inappropriate, Senator".

"You're asking me... [to] comment on the integrity of the Washington Post's reporting?" He then held up his hands and said, "I don't mean that in a contentious way". "It's my judgment that I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation", Comey testified. It wasn't because Trump had asserted executive privilege; Rogers said he asked the White House counsel about that but "I didn't get a definitive answer".

"What is classified about a conversation involving whether or not you should intervene in the FBI investigation?" asked a clearly exasperated King.

ROGERS: Sir, I stand by my previous comments. When asked if he knew that was the case, he responded with answers that did not directly address the question.

This morning, the Senate intelligence committee held a kind of dress rehearsal for the Comey hearing tomorrow.

Rogers in fact had heated exchange of words with Warner during the Congressional hearing.

Republicans and Democrats on the panel examined and cross-examined the group - picking over their answers repeatedly.

The event was scheduled five weeks ago as a review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but it quickly morphed into another chance for lawmakers to get some answers on the Justice Department's investigation into President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian meddling in the United States election. Wednesday's testimony showed that to get to the bottom of that, the committee will have to fight for the necessary information-and it's unclear whether Burr and his fellow Republicans are willing to engage in such a battle.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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