Top Intel Community Officials Deny That Trump Pressured Them On Russia Probe
The directors of the Office of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency testified on Wednesday that they have not been pressured by President Trump on the ongoing Russia investigation, undercutting recent reports that they were.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of NSA, largely declined to discuss details about their interactions with Trump when pressed on the matter during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
According to news reports published last month, Trump asked both Coats and Rogers to rebut stories that Trump was under investigation as part of the Russia probe.
Both Coats and Rogers reportedly felt uncomfortable with the requests from Trump.
But when asked about those interactions on Wednesday, both declined to discuss their specific conversations with Trump while stating that they have never felt pressure from the White House.
“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything that I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my collection … I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so,” Rogers told Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate panel.
“Did the president … ask you in any way, shape or form to back off or downplay the Russia investigation?” Warner asked.
Rogers said that he would not discuss specifics of conversations he had with Trump, but added: “I stand by the comment I just made, sir.”
Coats, a former Indiana senator who was appointed by Trump, also denied ever being pressured to downplay the Russia investigation or any other.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Coats told associates on March 22 that Trump asked him to intervene with former FBI Director James Comey to push back against the Russia investigation.
“In my time of service … I have never been pressured, I have never felt pressure, to intervene or interfere in any way, with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats testified Wednesday.