Intel Chiefs, FBI Refuse To Answer Trump Questions

Intelligence chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe

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If you didn't have time to watch the circus that was the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with four of the top brass in American intelligence, let me assure you that I watched it for you and can sum it all up like this: Two intelligence officials confirmed that President Donald Trump did not ask them to intervene in the ongoing Russian investigation, and the other two refused to answer.

The Post reported that Coats told associates that Trump asked him whether he could persuade former FBI Director James Comey to ease off an investigation into the former national security advisor.

After today's hearing, we're left with more questions than answers about POTUS' conduct.

"I don't think there is a protection for things you may view as confidential which is what was so disturbing yesterday by Director Coats and Rogers two people I like very much but just because you think something should be confidential doesn't mean you have a right not to share it with an investigative committee".

"Then why are you not answering our questions?" 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. Pressed by King for the legal basis for his refusal, Coats said: "I'm not sure I have a legal basis".

"What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?" asked Sen.

Sen. Angus King of ME, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, picked up on Heinrich's questions, demanding a "legal justification" for why Rogers and Coats were not answering questions.

Rogers replied, "Not that I'm aware of".

ANGUS KING: Why are you not answering our questions? "I haven't ever felt pressured to intervene or interfered in anyway in shaping intelligence in a political way". It wasn't because Trump had asserted executive privilege; Rogers said he asked the White House counsel about that but "I didn't get a definitive answer". Marco Rubio said, in a particularly tense exchange.

If the allegations about Trump are not true, the official said the intelligence leaders would still have had a reason to be quiet: "There are a number of times, especially in the intelligence area where officials do not want to deny something even though it didn't occur because they don't want to be in a position of setting a precedent", the official said.

According to newspaper reports that Comey has not disputed, in three conversations with Trump in January and February, he was asked to pull back on the investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russian officials before and after the November 8 presidential election. "Is there an invocation of executive privilege?"

In the course of justifying Section 702 as an invaluable tool for counterterrorism and counterproliferation efforts, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats claimed that agencies have made "herculean" efforts to get a count on how many Americans have been affected, but in spite of those efforts it remains impossible.

- Rogers would not comment on the specifics of the conversations he had with the president, and said he'd "never been directed to do anything I believe illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate".

But Coats too was standing by his initial comments and saying he did not believe it was "appropriate" for him to speak on those conversations during the open hearing.

"I stand by my previous statement, sir", Rogers said.

KING: Then why are you not answering? "I don't understand why you're not answering our questions".

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California asked Rosenstein several times if he would sign a document that would to give full independence to Mueller from the Justice Department during the Russian Federation probe, reports CNN.

Trump has now tapped Wray, who has been working in a private law firm since serving in the Justice Department under president George W. Bush, to replace Comey although his appointment will need congressional approval.

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