Intelligence chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 12, 2017,
Jun 12, 2017, 9:36
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Intelligence Wednesday were National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Andrew McCabe. The Post reported that Coats would later tell associates that Trump asked him to intervene with the investigation and get it to back off former national security adviser Michael Flynn. "... I am more than willing to sit before this committee ... in a closed session and answer your questions", he said.
"I don't believe it's appropriate for myself to address that in a public session", Coats responded to a visibly frustrated Warner.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, echoed Rogers in his initial response, saying he "never felt pressured" to intervene in an ongoing investigation.
"My hope will be that Admiral Rogers and Director Coats won't try to hide behind executive privilege. about the press reports about the president asking them to downplay the Russian Federation investigation", Warner said.
When the senator asked McCabe whether Comey told him the president had asked for his loyalty, McCabe did not deny it; he simply refused to answer. "And it was clear that both Adm. Rogers and Director Coats had sort of - I don't know whether they had talked together or consulted - but they both essentially had the same answer and it just didn't fly".
Warner said he was "disappointed" in the answer.
Mr Kasowitz said he would leave it to relevant authorities to decide whether or not to investigate Mr Comey's disclosures further.
Over these two days, four current intelligence officials, along with one former one, will all be testifying under oath before the same Senate panel.
The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller III, to oversee the widening investigation into members of the Trump campaign and at least one of the president's top aides for their dealings with Russian Federation during the campaign and the transition.
The question of whether the president obstructed the Russian Federation investigation is expected to take center stage this week with Comey's highly anticipated testimony on the Hill on Thursday.
"I will make the following comment", he said. "But I come out of this hearing with more questions than when I went in".
If the allegations about Trump are true, he said: "The officials testifying today felt that it was not appropriate in an open setting to be discussing confidential discussions with the president, even though executive privilege was not asserted". If there isn't, answer the questions. Pressed by King for the legal basis for his refusal, Coats said: "I'm not sure I have a legal basis".
"I am not going to discuss the specifics of any interactions or conversations". Do you commit to me that you're going to answer these questions in a direct and unencumbered way? And you can't get to the facts if the witnesses won't answer the questions.
Rogers declined to answer Sen. Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of executive privilege? New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich argued if the president did not ask officials to rein in the investigation, it ought to be easy to say so.
The president planned to host governors and mayors at the White House on Thursday to discuss the use of tax dollars for infrastructure projects.
"All the drama this week was on what did the president say, what did Comey say, what did the director of intelligence say" King said.