Senate Committee Hearing With Intelligence Chiefs

President Donald Trump asked two top USA intelligence officials to pressure former FBI Director James Comey to back off his investigation of fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to a Washington Post report.

Mike Rogers was responding to a senator's question about whether President Donald Trump asked him to intervene in or downplay the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible ties with the Trump campaign.

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.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Trump had asked Coats how he could prevent Comey from investigating his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his ties to Russian Federation.

Rogers refused to say whether the president had ever asked him to intervene in the FBI investigation into Trump's associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The verbal sparring became so intense that Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, intervened at one point during a sharp exchange between California Democrat Kamala Harris and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Coats was testifying Wednesday before the Senate intelligence committee. Mark Warner on this.

Flynn resigned February 13, following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States. "It strikes me as bootstrapping to say we collected it legally under 702, and then we can go and look at these American persons".


Rogers replied: "I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate". Other reports suggest Trump asked both men to deny the existence of any evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

FBI Director James Comey waits to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on "Russia's intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. "I've never felt pressured", Director Coats added.

Wednesday's hearing was not scheduled to discuss the Russian Federation investigation, and both Coats and Rogers indicated they might be more forthcoming in a classified setting with an intelligence panel. Comey associates say that before the director was sacked in May, the president had asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn, and Comey refused.

When the two were alone, Entous reports, "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".

"We were not able to do so", Coats said shortly.

Comey also said Trump demanded he pledge his loyalty in a White House meeting on January 27, just days after he took office under the cloud of allegations that Russia's interference helped him win election.

But both senators indicated Tuesday they plan to focus their questions on grilling Coats and Rosenstein over Trump's actions, saving the surveillance debate for another day before the law expires at the end of the year.

Warner said he was "disappointed" with the officials' answers.

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