dglobalnews.com US lawmakers press intelligence chiefs on Russia ahead of Comey hearing
Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

US lawmakers press intelligence chiefs on Russia ahead of Comey hearing

Coats and Rogers said they did not feel the public setting of the Senate intelligence committee's hearing was an appropriate venue to discuss their conversations with Trump, which have reportedly included talk of the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"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.

The Post last month reported Trump had appealed to Rogers, if he could, to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

The members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had one question they asked again and again Wednesday of the country's intelligence chiefs: Did President Trump want you to downplay investigations surrounding Russian Federation?

But Coats appeared to flatly contradict that with his blanket statement that he never felt pressured to interfere or intervene in any investigation by the president or anyone in his administration.

The sources said Coats concluded after the meeting that Trump's suggestion that he intervene with Comey's investigation would be inappropriate.

We don't know exactly what happened in the separate conversations between the president and Coats and Rogers. Sen.

The Post reported that Coats told associates that Trump asked him whether he could persuade former FBI Director James Comey to ease off an investigation into the former national security advisor. Mike Warner of Virginia, said the latest news on Coats "raises to me a huge amount of questions". "I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so".

WARNER: I understand your answer.

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"I think it is more than a little bit curious that the president chose this morning as the time to announce his new Federal Bureau of Investigation head", Sen. And here's a blow-by-blow transcript of how it went down starting with Heinrich questioning Acting FBI Director McCabe.

The president then complained about Comey's handling of the FBI investigation, officials familiar with Coats' account told the paper.

Heinrich: You do realize - and obviously this is not releasing any classified information - but you do realize how simple it would simply be to say 'no that never happened.' Why is it inappropriate Director Coats?

In a much-awaited event, Comey will testify on Thursday before the same U.S. Senate panel, in his first public appearance since Trump fired him on May 9.

It's a new twist for a hearing Wednesday that was set to be dominated by questions about the Russian Federation investigation.

Further, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was asked directly if anyone in the White House sought advice on influencing any investigation, he replied, "Absolutely no".

The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding two days of closely watched hearings that might - or might not - shed new light on the state of the Russian Federation investigation.

White House officials had weighed trying to block Comey from testifying by arguing that his discussions with the president pertained to national security and that there was an expectation of privacy.

Trump's surrogates may have said earlier this week that the President will not block Comey from testifying by claiming executive privilege.

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