Trump reportedly urged top intel officials to publicly deny collusion with Russian Federation

John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked about the accuracy of Post's report that Trump had asked Coats and NSA director Michael Rogers to "publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election".

Trump's request to Coats and Rogers, senior intelligence officials said, threatened the independence of USA spy agencies and could be seen as an attempt to question the FBI's credibility. One senior intelligence official said Trump meant to "muddy the waters" about the FBI investigation.

The Washington Post first reported the news, which NBC News later confirmed, citing a former senior intelligence official knowledgeable about the situation.

As the New York Times revealed last week, Comey wrote a series of memos documenting his communications with Trump, including one in which he apparently wrote that Trump had asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

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".

That same week, Trump telephoned Rogers to make a similar appeal. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer has called the president's rhetoric part of his deal-making, contending that Comey had created "unnecessary pressure" on Trump's ability to negotiate with Russian Federation on a range of issues.

Last week the Herald noted that a special counsel would be "a last resort given a special prosecutor is off the table and the ongoing inquiries by congressional committees have been marred by conflicts of interest and members recusing themselves".

Comey reportedly maintained a paper trail to document what he viewed as improper attempts by the president to influence the investigation.

"Otherwise, a person involved in an investigation could hire one of Washington's largest law firms (WilmerHale has hundreds of attorneys) and thereby prevent the Justice Department, including the special counsel's office, from hiring any of that firm's lawyers to investigate or prosecute him or any of his co-conspirators", they argued.

House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement the alleged requests of Coats and Rogers, "if true, are yet another disturbing allegation that the President was interfering in the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe".

Chaffetz said he expects to speak with Comey on Monday and that if there are any notes of White House meetings, "we're certainly pursuing them". But in that case, the White House effort was created to refute news accounts, not the testimony of a sitting FBI director who was leading an open investigation.

It's possible Coats himself doesn't even know what's going on with the Russian Federation investigation. Trump supporters continue to stand by their guy.

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  • Zachary Reyes