Senate Committee Hearing With Intelligence Chiefs

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Both National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers and Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee they believed their conversations with the president were confidential.

On Tuesday, the Post claimed that in a one-on-one meeting with Coats on March 22, Trump "asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russian Federation probe".

Warner asked NSA Director Mike Rogers whether, in his experience, he thought it was "typical for a president" to discuss an ongoing FBI investigation that could concern his campaign with top intelligence officials.

The Washington Post has reported that President Trump asked Rogers and Coats to publicly deny the existence of any evidence showing coordination during the 2016 election.

The hearing Wednesday came amid persistent reports that Trump asked Coats, Rogers, Comey and possibly other top intelligence and justice officials to help shield former national security advisor Michael Flynn, which potentially could lead to obstruction of justice charges against the U.S. president. Rogers said, "I feel it is inappropriate". Rogers referred to earlier statements he made saying he wouldn't comment on conversations with the President.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked if they could show up in the SCIF, the secure facility for classified hearings, but Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said that was not an option. "And to the best of my recollection during that same period of service I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do".

"I'm not prepared to answer your question today", Coats replied.

"However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations". And here's a blow-by-blow transcript of how it went down starting with Heinrich questioning Acting FBI Director McCabe.

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"And yet, here in a public hearing before the American people, we can't talk about what was described in detail in this morning's Washington Post", McCain asked at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

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. He demanded to know what legal basis justified Coats' refusal to answer questions.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning he would nominate Christopher Wray to replace Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein responded that when there's a Justice Department investigation, their default position is not to discuss that publicly.

The hearings Wednesday and Thursday are significant because stories about the Russian Federation investigation have dribbled out piecemeal, often based on anonymous sources.

The White House and its growing "war room" may want to thank a 25-year-old NSA contractor named Reality Winner for becoming the first target of a leak investigation.

Rosenstein has been intrinsically wrapped into the Comey firing story, with White House officials citing Rosenstein's memo as the key reason for Comey's ouster. Sen. Coats, who was preparing for his confirmation hearing, felt blindsided, officials said.