Top intelligence and law enforcement officials testified Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a hearing that comes amid growing reports that President Donald Trump tried to interfere with the FBI’s probe into whether his campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election.
Here are highlights from the hearing with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
Coats responded to The Washington Post report, which wrote Tuesday that Coats had told associates in March that the president asked him if he could intercede with then-FBI Director James Comey to encourage him to ease up on the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “My response to that was in my time of service, which is in interacting with the president of the United States or anybody in his administration, 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 said, recounting his reaction to a request for comment from the Post.
Coats suggested he is open to discussing private conversations he may have had with the president but not in a public setting. “I do not feel it’s appropriate for me to in a public session in which confidential conversations between the president and myself,” he said. “I don’t believe that it’s appropriate for me to address that in a public session.”
Rogers declined to “talk about theoreticals” or address private conversations he may have had with the president. “But I will make the following comment,” he said. “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 I believed to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate, and to the best of my recollection during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.”
“It’s so jarring” to see reports that President Donald Trump has tried to interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation, Vice Chairman Mark Warner said in his opening statement, in which he informed the four officials that he would be asking questions outside the topic of Wednesday’s hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “I’ll be asking … about those reports today because if any of this is true it would be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence professionals, an act, if true, that could erode the public’s trust in our intelligence institutions.”݀