NSA chief, intelligence director won't comment on Trump conversations

Posted June 11, 2017

Mark Warner of Virginia asked Rogers if Trump asked him for help in getting the FBI to back off its investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, reports Talking Points Memo.

Speaking at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Coats reiterated that he had not felt pressured by Trump to interfere, but he said that he would not get into the details of conversations he had with the president.

- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said "rarely"; Coats said "no"; Rogers and acting Federal Bureau of Investigation director Andrew McCabe had no comment.

The committee was specifically discussing section 702 of the act.

Both declined to discuss their conversations with Trump, answering in general terms.

None of the four witnesses provided solid legal rationales for their refusal to provide answers on this front, and they did not say that the president had invoked executive privilege. Rogers similarly claimed he does not have records of their conversations and declined to elaborate. That left some committee members feeling frustrated, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

"What we don't seem to have is the same commitment to find out whether the president of the United States tried to intervene with members of the Intelligence Community and asked them to back off or downplay (the Russian Federation investigation)", Warner told the witnesses. "However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations". Neither would directly answer that query.

She said it appeared the intelligence officials were in a "limbo" where executive privilege had been discussed, but not yet decided on.

If the president directed his intelligence chiefs to do anything about the FBI investigation, that is, of course, more serious.

Rogers said he was standing by the answer he had given earlier in the hearing when Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, lamented that the witnesses could have laid to rest questions about what the president told them about the Russian Federation probe, but they chose not to answer.

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Rogers: "In my three-plus-years I have as director of the NSA to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate".

In an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" following the hearing, Republican Sen.

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

"So, then I'll ask both of you the same question, why are you not answering these questions?"

"Because I feel it is inappropriate senator".

"What you feel isn't relevant, Admiral", King blasted.

Heinrich: "So you don't think the American people deserve to know the answer to that question".

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Today's hearing was supposed to be about whether to renew the law authorizing foreign surveillance.

"But I will make the following comment".

I do not feel it is appropriate for me in a public session to breach confidential conversations between the president and myself in a public session.

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"I don't care how you felt".

"Unfortunately, whether it's classified or not, it's now out in the world", McCain said.

"Sir, I stand by my previous comments", Rogers responded.

"I don't understand why the special counsel's lane takes precedence over the lane of the United States Congress", Senator Angus King fumed.

Comey on Thursday will testify before the same committee.

Comey said Trump told him at a dinner on January 27, a week after the president took office, that: "I need loyalty".

McCabe told King he didn't know if he could answer or not, stating it might "fall within the purview" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Both Coats and Rogers said they had contacted the White House to ask whether it meant to invoke executive privilege regarding the president's conversations with them, which could prevent the intelligence chiefs from testifying about them.

At the close of the hearing, the Republican committee chairman, Sen.

Another source has told CNN that the President may have misunderstood the exact meaning of Comey's words, especially regarding the FBI's ongoing counterintelligence investigation.

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