Trump Asked Intelligence Chiefs to Undermine FBI's Russia Probe

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday refused to address - but did not deny - reports that President Donald Trump asked him to push back against allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation, while a former CIA chief testified he was aware of "interactions" between the campaign and Moscow.

During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Coats said it was "not appropriate" for him "to comment on any of that" when asked about the content of the Post's report, neither confirming nor denying it. Comey refused. When Comey testified March 20 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into potential cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, the President and White House aides asked the heads of the NSA and DNI to pressure Comey to back off, according to the Washington Post.

The White House, responding to hearings on Capitol Hill about contacts between officials in Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation, said on Tuesday there was no evidence of collusion between Trump's team and Moscow.

Mr. Trump made the requests to Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, and Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence.

Each day brings a new rash of reports of Trump campaign collaboration with Russia, and Trump attempting to influence or squelch investigations into Russian hacks and election influence.

Trump is now in Israel on the second leg of his first foreign trip as president.

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.

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign", Brennan told lawmakers.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asked if Coats would turn over to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has been appointed special counsel in the FBI's probe, any memos he had documenting conversations with Trump regarding the Russian Federation investigation, to which Coats replied that he had no such documents.

That's according to current and former intelligence officials who spoke to The Washington Post.

A CIA spokesperson declined to comment when asked if CIA Director Mike Pompeo was also asked by Trump to push back against an FBI investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.

Painter said the entire episode has been confusing because Trump "doesn't need to do that". Trump has provided all of the evidence needed to prove obstruction of justice. In that case, Comey would be a witness and Mueller will likely interview him as part of the probe. Lawmakers don't want to interfere with Mueller's investigation by calling witnesses or demanding documents that could undermine his inquiry, he said.

Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote on Twitter on Monday that Comey now wanted to speak to Mueller before he gives public testimony and that a hearing scheduled for Wednesday next week had been postponed. To pursue particularly sensitive targets, like political figures, they must get approval from top Justice Department officials.

  • Leroy Wright