Intel chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to intervene in investigations

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's open hearing will feature officials closely tied to President Donald Trump's abrupt firing last month of Comey, which sparked accusations the Republican president was trying to hinder the FBI investigation and stifle questions about possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

During the Senate hearing, both Democratic and some Republican lawmakers pressed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers about whether Trump had pressured them about the FBI investigation.

Rogers: "In my three-plus-years I have as director of the NSA to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate". Angus King (I-Me) pressed Coats and Rogers on their refusal to discuss their conversations with Trump about the Russian Federation investigation.

Angus King repeatedly asked Rogers and Coats what was the legal basis for their refusal to answer questions. Both men denied Trump's request, according to the Washington Post. He is expected to testify about those conversations Thursday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to publicly discuss conversations he has had with the president.

"There was no assertion of executive privilege, and thus I don't understand why these individuals did not answer all of our questions today", Collins said.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the committee, ended the hearing by appearing to rebuke the intelligence officials for their testimony.

McCabe repeated he would not comment on the conversation he'd had with Comey or about ones Comey may have had with Trump, to Heinrich's seeming consternation.

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The Senate panel questioned Coats and Rogers about those claims on Wednesday.

White House officials had weighed trying to block Comey from testifying by arguing that his discussions with the president pertained to national security and that there was an expectation of privacy.

McCabe told King he didn't know if he could answer or not, stating it might "fall within the purview" of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"I don't care how you felt".

The Washington Post reported late Tuesday that Trump had asked Coats if he could convince Comey to get the bureau to lay off its investigation into the president's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel.

Section 702 was key to the intelligence community's conclusions about Russia's role in the US election, NSA Director Rogers told the Senate panel. Such refusals by intelligence officials are not uncommon - simply because they do not want to make public information that might aid our enemies.

MARCO RUBIO: And I actually think if what is being said to the media is untrue, then it is unfair to the president of the United States. In initial statements and interviews, the White House said the president had acted on the recommendation of Rosenstein.

Trump has insisted the ongoing federal investigation into possible collusion between his campaign team and the Kremlin is a "witch hunt".

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