Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, sidestepped questions on Tuesday about whether he was asked by President Trump to publicly state that he is not under investigation for collusion with the Russian government.
“I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information which we share it’s not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that, so on this topic as well as other topics I don’t think it’s appropriate to characterize conversations with the president,” Coats said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
The line of questioning, which came during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, was a response to a report in The Washington Post that Trump asked both Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the national security agency, to publicly rebut that he is under investigation.
Trump reportedly made the request after then-FBI Director James Comey revealed in congressional testimony on March 20 that Trump was under investigation. Trump fired Comey earlier this month.
Both Coats and Rogers were uncomfortable with Trump’s request, The Post’s sources said. Rogers took notes just after the request was made, as did Comey when he was reportedly asked by Trump to back off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn during a Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting.
After declining to discuss his conversations with Trump, Coats turned his attention to leaks from the intelligence community.
“Leaks have…played a very significant negative role to our national security,” he said.
“The release of information not only undermines confidence from our allies, but our ability to maintain secure information that we share with them. It jeopardizes sources and methods that are invaluable to our ability to find out what’s going on, what those threats are.”
Intel chief Dan Coats says he can’t comment on reports Trump asked the him to deny evidence of Russia collusion https://t.co/P0m0kAvn09
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