Senior Intel Officials Expected to Face Pressure to Reveal Interactions with Trump

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.

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's open hearing featured officials closely tied to President Donald Trump's abrupt firing last month of Comey, which sparked accusations the Republican president was trying to hinder the FBI investigation and stifle questions about possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also refused to publicly discuss private conversations he has had with Mr Trump when he faced the committee.

Coats says he has never been pressured or felt pressure to intervene in shaping intelligence products.

Questions about Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, and ensuing congressional and FBI investigations into Moscow's ties with Trump associates, have dogged the president since he took office.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the second-ranking official at the Department of Justice who signed a letter recommending Comey's dismissal, was to testify on Wednesday. As a warmup round on Wednesday, three current USA intelligence officials came before the same committee.

At the often contentious hearing, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, was the first to press the question.

Comey is set to testify about several meetings he had with Trump in the Senate Thursday.

ROGERS: - That I felt to be inappropriate, nor have I felt pressured to do so.

The two refused to comply with the request, which they regarded as inappropriate, the Post report said.

Though Initial questioning from Senator Mark Warner was stiff, but polite, the continuing refusal of both Coats and Rogers to answer any question concerning their conversations with Trump over the the Russian Federation investigation clearly has senators pissed off.

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.

For a short moment it appeared the hearing may stay focused on foreign surveillance (Coat's 18-minute opening statement on the topic put one audience member to sleep.) But it quickly shifted to an intense examination of the Trump White House's handling of the Russian Federation probe. "And to the best my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to doing so".

By the end of it, King said they would have to provide a legal answer why they couldn't answer the questions.

Fired FBI director James Comey confirmed today that US President Donald Trump urged him to drop a probe into his former national security advisor Michael Flynn - a bombshell revelation ahead of his hotly-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill.

"It was so jarring to hear recent reports of White House officials - perhaps even the president himself - attempting to interfere and enlist our intelligence community leaders in any attempt to undermine the ongoing FBI investigation", Warner said Wednesday at the hearing.

"We're not going to reauthorize these surveillance programs if the American people are not satisfied that their security is going to be safeguarded", Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and House intelligence committee member, said last month on Fox News.

  • Zachary Reyes