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Senators to ask about Trump pushback on Russia investigation

12 June 2017

U.S. intelligence chiefs refused on Wednesday to publicly discuss their conversation with President Donald Trump as the Senate Intelligence Committee probed the circumstances surrounding former FBI Director James Comey's firing.

Daniel R. Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, instead told a Senate committee that they didn't feel pressured to do anything improper.

On Tuesday, leaked stories reported that President Trump asked Mr. Coats to curtail the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was dismissed after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others about the extent of his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

"I don't believe it's appropriate for me to address that in a public session", Coats said.

"I have never felt pressured to intervene in the Russian Federation investigation in any way", Coats told members of the Senate intelligence committee when asked about such reports.

Reed argued that former FBI Director James Comey, who was sacked by Trump last month, made a strong impression in his hearing Thursday with the Senate intelligence committee. And one fact to that testimony - as James Comey affirms - that he did tell President Trump, on a number of occasions, that he was not personally a target of a counterintelligence investigation, which the White House is taking as - as vindication. The Post reported: "The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau's probe".

"At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer", Burr chided. Mark Warner of Virginia, said in his opening statement.

The senator wouldn't comment on whether or not he believes the firing of Comey amounts to an obstruction of justice - he said that is something the special prosecutor will decide. Angus King, I-Maine, he could not specify what was classified about the conversation.

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The special counsel is tasked with, among other things, investigating potential collusion between the Trump team and Russian Federation but also whether the White House subsequently engaged in a cover-up. "What's the legal basis for your refusal for you to testify to this committee".

Two intelligence chiefs testified Wednesday that they have never felt pressured to take improper actions regarding any intelligence matter, including the investigation regarding Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

There was no invocation "that I'm aware of", Rogers said. He said the lawmakers will likely try to flesh out Trump's actions.

"Then why are you not answering our questions?"

Some officials said they viewed the prospective appointment of Feinberg as an effort by the White House to put pressure on intelligence agencies to close ranks with the White House. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has already promised to grill Rosenstein on what Trump told him when he said he wanted Comey fired.

But Rogers and Coats declined to go much further.

"I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic questions speaks volumes", Heinrich replied. Richard Burr of North Carolina, said that executive branch officials have the option of briefing the committee or congressional leaders in a classified setting.

Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Richard Burr, of North Carolina, said Tuesday that he will focus on reauthorizing a key portion of a USA surveillance law that is set to expire later this year.

Senators to ask about Trump pushback on Russia investigation