Comey, Russia will take lead during Wednesday FISA hearing

While questioning Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, McCain referenced a recent article in the Washington Post that detailed how Coats had told associates that President Donald Trump had asked him to intervene in the FBI's Russian Federation probe. Speaking broadly, Coats told the panel he has not felt pressured to intervene or interfere with intelligence gathering or ongoing investigations.

The Washington Post separately reported on Tuesday that Coats told associates in March that Trump asked him if he could intervene with then FBI Director Comey to get the FBI to back off its focus on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in its Russian Federation probe, according to officials.

Coats was testifying Wednesday before the Senate intelligence committee.

After the encounter, Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Coats said that if asked, he would provide details of his conversations with Trump to Mueller. Responding to the first questions on this subject, Coats and Rogers each insisted they had not felt pressured by Trump.

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. At the time, Comey was overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russia's election meddling.

"I am not going to discuss the specifics of any interactions or conversations... that I have had with the president", Rogers said, when probed by top Democrat Mark Warner.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will also testify.

Rosenstein's public testimony will be the first since he appointed - in the face of rising pressure from Congress - former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating possible links between Russian Federation and the election.

The three will undoubtedly also take questions on their dealings with President Donald Trump and about Comey's firing.

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.

Senator King began his questioning by telling McCabe he was "puzzled" by his refusal to answer previous questions from a Democrat on the Committee.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would make Section 702 permanent rather than a program that requires regular review and sunsets after a predetermined period of time.

The law, enshrined in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is due to expire on December 31 unless Congress votes to reauthorize it, but is considered vital by USA intelligence agencies.

"We can not allow adversaries overseas to cloak themselves in the legal protections we extend to Americans", White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert wrote in an editorial published in the New York Times newspaper on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright