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.
"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", a visibly uneasy Coats said.
Rogers answered that he is "not aware of" an attempt to invoke executive privilege, but said he is in touch with the White House counsel's office on the matter of what he can and cannot say in a public hearing.
Before senators get to questions on whether Trump pressured Comey to kill his investigation of former National Security Michael Flynn, they're going to dig in on whether Trump pressured Coats and Rogers to rebut Comey.
For contrast, take House Speaker Paul D. Ryan's (R-Wis.) answer Wednesday to the same question posed by a reporter: "Has the president ever asked you to weigh in publicly on his behalf on some of the Russian Federation allegations?"
"Comey said he told Trump he was not "'reliable' in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth".
Both Coats and Rogers are testifying before the Senate committee on Wednesday, as well as Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump complained about the Russian Federation probe, according to associates Coats confided in, and asked them to curtail the investigation, the newspaper reported. Mike Warner of Virginia, said the latest news on Coats "raises to me a huge amount of questions".
Heinrich: Did Director Comey ever share details of his conversations with the president with you, and in particular, did Director Comey say the president had asked for his loyalty?
"Are you prepared to say that you have never been asked by the President or the White House to influence an ongoing investigation?" asked Sen.
The Kremlin denies USA intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump's favor, including by hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Rogers referred to earlier statements he made saying he wouldn't comment on conversations with the President.
"If he's even asking.at some point, these facts have to come out", Warner said.
Heinrich: You don't think the American people deserve the answer to that question?
"What's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today?" asked a frustrated Sen.
Fourteen Republican senators, including every Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, are backing a bill introduced on Tuesday that would make part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as Section 702 permanent.