Top Senate intelligence Democrat: 'more investigating to do'

"In the three-plus years that I have been director of the National Security Agency, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate", he added.

Rogers says he will not publicly discuss private conversations he had with the president. But a report in The Washington Post that Trump went further than just asking Coats to rebut former FBI Director James Comey in public increases the intrigue.

"I have never been pressured, I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation", Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a highly anticipated public hearing.

Angus King (I-ME), who pressed both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers to talk about their discussions with President Trump.

"However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations", Hale said in a statement.

Rogers said that "those conservations were classified" and that it is "not appropriate in an open forum to discuss those classified conversations".

The conversations with Coats and Rogers took place in the wake of Comey testifying on March 20 that the FBI was investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

On Wednesday and Thursday, four current intelligence officials, along with one former one, will all be testifying under oath before the same Senate panel. Comey associates say that before the director was sacked in May, the president had asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn, and Comey refused.

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

However, the hearing offered relatively little new information, and shortly after it ended at midday, it was overtaken by the release of a statement by James Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who was sacked by Trump on May 9. McCabe said the FBI, under special counsel Robert Mueller, is continuing its Russian Federation investigation "in an appropriate and unimpeded way" in the wake of Comey's firing.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who took over after Comey was sacked, will also be at the hearing.

But Coats indicated that he would cooperate with the Russian Federation probe now being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

King blasted Rogers, saying if there is no invocation of executive privilege, "Why are you not answering these questions".

Comey also said Trump demanded he pledge his loyalty in a White House meeting on January 27, just days after he took office under the cloud of allegations that Russia's interference helped him win election. McCabe refused to discuss any conversations he'd had with Comey regarding Comey's discussions with Trump.

Wednesday's hearing also is focusing on Section 702 of the FISA law.

The only silver lining for the Trump White House may be the formal focus of the hearing: re-authorization of legislation that allows for surveillance of foreign officials, an issue at the center of Trump's own tweets against the Russian Federation investigations.

  • Larry Hoffman