Two senior us intelligence officials repeatedly refused to say Wednesday whether President Trump had asked them to intervene or to publicly downplay the FBI investigation into supposed ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
CNN previously reported, citing multiple current and former United States officials, that Trump asked Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 election. In one of those memos, Mr Comey described a meeting in which Mr Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
Rogers, for his part, ultimately cited his feelings in an effort to cut off King's line of questioning - "I feel it is inappropriate", he said, in reference to why he wasn't being more forthcoming about his conversations with Trump.
"I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape - with shaping intelligence in a political way, or in relationship to an ongoing investigation".
King also questioned Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe about why he wouldn't reveal details of his conversations with his predecessor.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the second-ranking official at the Department of Justice who signed a letter recommending Comey's dismissal, will testify a day ahead of Comey's own hotly anticipated testimony. The Post reported: "The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau's probe".
WARNER: Do you feel that those conversations were classified?
"It is my belief that you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today", King said angrily.
This morning, the Senate intelligence committee held a kind of dress rehearsal for the Comey hearing tomorrow.
Senator Angus King said he was "happy to be back in Maine" Friday, following a long and tense week in Washington. Senators plan to use the opportunity to grill Rosenstein to answer questions in public for the first time about the President's motivations for firing Comey and whether it was meant to quash the Russian Federation investigation.
Exasperated Senate Democrats lit into the four intelligence chiefs as they dodged their questions.
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 USA presidential election.
I will make the following comment.
"But I am more than willing to sit before this committee in its investigative process in closed session and answer your questions", he continued.
The NSA head had said earlier he would not address any specific discussions he might have had with Trump. If there isn't, answer the questions. Angus King of ME pressed for a legal justification. I'd say that I - for example, Coats saying, I wasn't directed, but not saying if he was asked.
But Rogers and Coats declined to go much further. Is it an invocation of executive privilege. Asked if he would be forthcoming in such a setting, Coats said he meant to, but did not know yet whether the White House would block such discussion by asserting that executive privilege covers his conversations with the president. Marco Rubio of Florida during a Senate intelligence committee hearing, "Are prepared to say you have never been asked?"
The president planned to host governors and mayors at the White House on Thursday to discuss the use of tax dollars for infrastructure projects.