America's top intelligence officials said Wednesday they have never felt pressure from the president or White House officials to act unethically or inappropriately, but ultimately refused to say whether President Donald Trump asked them to help downplay the FBI investigation into potential ties between his campaign and the Russian government.
Navy Adm. Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday following a Washington Post report that said Trump asked Coats to get since-fired FBI Director James Comey and the bureau to ease its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its election-related probe.
The Post also previously reported that Trump had asked Rogers to say publicly there was no evidence of campaign collusion with Russia if there was none, and made a similar request to Coats.
Under questioning about Trump's reported request by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee's vice chairman, Rogers said that during his tenure as NSA director, he did not remember ever being "directed to do anything I believe 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," he said.
Pressed by Warner, Rogers declined to go into any detail.
"I'm not going to discuss the specifics of conversations with the president of the United States, but I stand by the comment I just made to you, sir," he said.
Coats, to similar questions, said it would not be appropriate to discuss his conversations with Trump in an open hearing, but indicated he'd be willing to go into more detail in a closed session with the committee.
"In my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the United States or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressured, I've 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.
Wednesday's hearing was called to discuss the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, though its focus veered amid the new revelations.
It comes a day before Comey – whom Trump also reportedly asked to shutter the probe into Flynn – is expected to appear before the same committee and discuss his interactions with the president, who fired him last month.
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