The director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the head of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, faced tough questioning from the Senate intelligence committee on Wednesday about their communications with the president, after a spate of reports that he had asked them to use their influence to stop or restrict the investigation.
Coats told associates in March that Trump asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI chief James Comey to get the bureau to back off its investigation into Michael Flynn, who was sacked as national security adviser after hiding his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak from White House officials, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Members of the Senate intelligence committee wanted to know about news reports claiming Trump had asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly state that there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Other reports suggest Trump asked both men to deny the existence of any evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
"What I want to find out is, we've had press reports as recently as yesterday that maybe even a couple of times the President tried to intervene with Director Coats to ask him to either down play or dismiss the FBI investigation into contacts between trump officials", Warner told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day" previewing his testimony. Coats decided not to do so, the report said. And, he added, "I do not recall having been pressured to do so".
But even just talking to them about the FBI investigation would still be inappropriate, according to current and former intelligence officials.
At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today, Vice-Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked Coats to "set the record straight about what happened or didn't happen". As a warmup round on Wednesday, three current us intelligence officials came before the same committee. "I don't understand why you are not answering our questions".
Pressed on the matter, DNI director Coats also denied he had been pressured by Trump.
The president then started complaining about the FBI investigation and Comey's handling of it, said officials familiar with the account Coats gave to associates.
In his opening statement, the top Democrat on the committee, Sen.
Coats' and Rogers' testimony comes as a new Post-ABC News poll said a 56-percent majority of USA adults think Trump is interfering with several Russian Federation investigations, while 61 percent think Trump fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country. "What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?"
"For intelligence-related matters or any other matter that has been discussed, it is my belief that it is inappropriate for me to share that with the public", Coats said.