Top US Intelligence Officials Duck Tough Senate Questions On Trump FBI Probe
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 08, 2017,
Jun 08, 2017, 6:31
The nation's top intelligence officials refused to say whether or not President Trump asked them to try and undercut the FBI's investigation into a top former Trump aide on Wednesday, declining to confirm a bombshell report and offering the first public confirmation that Trump sought to undercut the probe.
"Are you prepared to say you have never been asked by the president or the White House to influence an ongoing investigation?" Sen.
Numerous senators' questions referenced reporting from the Washington Post that Trump had kept Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo behind following a White House meeting in March and asked Coats to intervene in the FBI investigation.
The back-to-back hearings come as the White House grapples with the fallout from Comey's firing, which led to the appointment of a special counsel to take over the Russian Federation investigation in an effort to prevent even the appearance of Oval Office interference.
"I have to be particularly careful about not stepping into the special counsel's lane", McCabe said.
"Not that I'm aware of -- because I feel it's inappropriate", Rogers said. Even mild-spoken Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, got testy.
The White House and USA intelligence community on Wednesday said they backed making permanent a law that allows for the collection of digital communications of foreigners overseas and that pass through USA phone or internet providers, escalating a fight in Congress over privacy and security. Trump complained about the Russian Federation probe, according to associates Coats confided in, and asked them to curtail the investigation, the newspaper reported. "At no time should you be in a position that you come to Congress without an answer ..."
"What you feel isn't relevant", King replied. I'm not asking whether you felt pressured.
She said it appeared the intelligence officials were in a "limbo" where executive privilege had been discussed, but not yet decided on.
Coats again declined to answer, and Heinrich asked why he was so reluctant to do so.
"I'm not sure I have a legal basis, but I am more than willing to sit before this committee.in a closed session and answer your questions", Coats said.
Coats and Rogers said they would have to talk to the White House counsel's office to ensure that the president will not invoke executive privilege to bar their testimony.
Comey is expected to dispute Trump's claim that the then-FBI chief told him multiple times that he was not under investigation, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with Comey's thinking. Mike Warner of Virginia, said the latest news on Coats "raises to me a huge amount of questions".
"The chair is going to exercise its right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and committee is on notice to provide witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all the way across", Burr said.