USA spy chiefs are ducking questions about Trump and Russian Federation

Angie Massey
June 9, 2017

The leaders of the House intelligence committee said this week that they're going to get back on track.

It confirms that Comey will state under oath that Trump told him he hoped the FBI would drop its investigation of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn; it describes the president seemingly admitting the possibility that some of his associates had committed Russia-related crimes; it involves a conversation between the FBI director and the president about Russian hookers. They're all up there.

Coats was responding to a senator's question about whether Trump pressured him to publicly downplay the significance of the FBI's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

DETROW: Well, the goal of this hearing is not to get into this Russian Federation investigation.

US intelligence chiefs are making a strong push, backed by the White House, to reauthorize a controversial law that allows USA spy agencies to eavesdrop on foreign electronic communications.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, was asking about whether President Trump had talked to him about the Russian Federation investigation.

Coats was at White House meeting on March 22 when Trump asked him and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to remain behind. "And to the best of my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so".

"I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape - with shaping intelligence in a political way, or in relationship to an ongoing investigation", Coats told Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, also voiced support, although he cautioned that any reauthorization should ensure "there is robust oversight and restrictions to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans".

INSKEEP: That is pretty definitive.

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Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, was also at the hearing, and refused to answer any questions about discussions with Trump. But then Marco Rubio - Republican from Florida and, of course, one-time presidential candidate - pointed out that this was a little subjective, and he said, we're not asking for classified information.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Democratic members of the intelligence committee asked McCabe and Coats about their interactions with Comey and the president.

"You testified that you never felt pressured or threatened ..."

INSKEEP: As opposed to being directed.

Then, on April 11, Comey wrote, the president called him and asked him what he had done about getting out word that he was not personally under investigation.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) and Director of National Intelligencer Dan Coats had a testy exchange Wednesday over Coats' answer about private conversations with President Donald Trump. He indicated he would be happy to talk to this committee in closed session or be happy to talk to Special Prosecutor Mueller.

Trump announced Wednesday that he is nominating Christopher A Wray as the bureau's new director. Jim Comey will be in that chair tomorrow giving his side of that story.

HORSLEY: But when senators pressed the intelligence officials on whether Trump had asked them to intervene, Rogers and Coats repeatedly brushed them off. Rogers' refusal drew an angry rebuke from Maine Senator Angus King.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Scott Detrow.

Other reports by GizPress

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