Trump asked DNI, NSA to deny evidence of Russian Federation collusion
- Author: Salvatore Jensen May 23, 2017,
May 23, 2017, 17:38
While relations between Trump and Comey were strained by the Russian Federation probe, ties between the president and the other intelligence chiefs, including Rogers, Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, appear to be less contentious, according to officials.
President Trump asked two top USA intelligence chiefs to push back against the FBI's investigation into possible collusion between Russian Federation and his presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported Monday evening.
In a response to CNN, a White House spokesperson, who declined to be identified by name, said: "The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals".
President Donald Trump is seeking outside counsel to help him during investigations into his campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election, and has narrowed the search to four prominent attorneys, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
There is so much rumor and potential disinformation swirling around that it is almost impossible to separate fact from fiction.
The Post said the source of its information would not further identify the official, who was described as being a person close to Trump.
Coats and Rogers apparently each rejected those request on the grounds it would be inappropriate.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that he was as "shocked as anybody else" upon hearing the news and noted Coats and Rogers had appeared before the panel earlier this month.
"As you know, it's very hard to take a few lines, to take a paragraph out of what appear to be notes of that meeting and to be able to see the full context of the conversation", McMaster responded. "I just fired the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
The sources also tell reporters that a senior NSA official kept a record of the conversation between Trump and Rogers - leaving a paper trail that could be discoverable to investigators on the Russian Federation case - but the report does not clarify whether a parallel Coats memo exists.
The wide scope also includes "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation" - which would appear to include any efforts Trump may have made to interfere with the FBI's investigation of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Then Trump reportedly bragged to Russian officials in the White House - one of whom is believed to a top intelligence operative for Russia - that he was having success shaking the investigation, especially after he fired Comey.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said she plans to press Comey regarding what was discussed with Trump about Flynn and whether he was asked by Trump to alter the FBI investigation.
Current and former officials said either Trump lacks an understanding of the FBI's role as an independent law enforcement agency or does not care about maintaining such boundaries.
In February, the Trump White House also sought to enlist senior members of the intelligence community and Congress to push back against suggestions that Trump associates were in frequent contact with Russian officials.
Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, did not dispute the account. US lawmakers from both parties have expressed varying degrees of concern about ties between the Trump administration and Russian Federation and the president's handling of the matter.
Trump and his allies in Congress have similarly sought to deflect scrutiny over Russian Federation by attempting to pit US intelligence agencies against one another. The source says Comey likely will be limited with what he will be able to say now that the Russian Federation probe is in the hands of Mueller. USA intelligence and law enforcement frequently coordinate with their worldwide counterparts, including the RCMP.