Two US intelligence agency chiefs refused to say on the record Wednesday whether President Donald Trump asked them to downplay investigations into whether there was collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign last year.
When asked by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida during a Senate intelligence committee hearing, “Are prepared to say you have never been asked?” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers declined to answer.
“I am not prepared to go down that road right now,” Coats said. Rogers referred to earlier statements he made saying he wouldn’t comment on conversations with the President.
Both men said they have never felt pressured from Trump’s administration to intervene in investigations into Russian meddling into the US election, contradicting reports that the President had previously asked them to downplay the probe.
“I have never felt pressured to intervene in the Russia investigation in any way,” Coats told members of the Senate intelligence committee when asked about such reports.
Coats also responded to one question about the reports by saying he would answer questions during a closed hearing. A follow-up session behind closed doors is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
“I am not going to discuss the specifics of interactions that I may or may have not had with the President,” Rogers said, adding he has never felt pressured to do anything unethical. “I do not recall feeling pressured to do so.”
Four top intelligence officials are fielding questions Wednesday on whether Trump intervened into the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the US elections, the latest development in a tumultuous 24 hours.
Coats’ testimony before the Senate intelligence committee has been scheduled for weeks, an event that was already expected to kick off two days of blockbuster hearings. But a report in The Washington Post that Trump went further than just asking Coats to rebut former FBI Director James Comey in public increases the intrigue.
The latest report adds to questions of whether Trump interfered in the Russia investigation, just one day before Comey is set to testify on Trump’s request that he end his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.