US lawmakers press intelligence chiefs on Russia ahead of Comey hearing

Donald Trump asked top intelligence agent if he could intervene with Comey on FBI Russia probe: officials

5 things to watch: Coats, Rogers, McCabe and Rosenstein testify

The Director of National Intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency answer to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That story lines up with a May 16 New York Times report that, according to a memo Comey wrote before Trump fired him, Trump had asked Comey to "shut down" the Flynn investigation.

"The NSA has made her-cyur-ROO-lian - this is hard for me to say", said President Trump's national intelligence director, a former Republican senator from Indiana.

Bars in Washington are opening early to allow patrons to imbibe while watching Comey get grilled, with at least one bar offering to buy a round of drinks on the house every time Trump tweets about Comey's testimony.

Dan Coats also told a Senate panel he did not think it was "appropriate" to discuss his conversations with the president at a public hearing.

The Washington Post reported on May 22 that Trump had asked the intelligence officials to help push back against the FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Moscow.

"Well, Senator, I just hate to keep repeating this, but I'm going to do it", Coats replied.

Comey will testify before the committee Thursday on conversations he had with Trump before his firing.

He will be quizzed on his interactions with the president before he was sacked.

In one particularly heated exchange, King lambasted the two intelligence officials for not offering a legal basis for refusing to discuss their discussions with the president about the Russian Federation investigation.

Heinrich: I'm not asking that - I'm asking about conversations you had with Director Comey. "I have never been directed to do anything that I believed to be immoral", he said.

Coats, who was confirmed as Trump's national intelligence director in mid-March, said: "In interacting with the president of the United States or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressured".

A spokesman for Pompeo declined to comment on the closed-door discussions.

The incidents suggest that Trump may not have appreciated the traditional barriers meant to insulate the intelligence agencies from politics.

1. Did Trump pressure Coats and Rogers to dismiss concerns about Russian Federation?

Coats said that it "remains infeasible" to determine exactly how often US persons' communications are collected under 702. Trump has denied any collusion. Again, Coats decided not to act on the request.

The latest report adds to questions of whether Trump interfered in the Russian Federation investigation, just one day before Comey is set to testify on Trump's request of him that he end his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Coats, who was preparing for his confirmation hearing, felt blindsided, officials said.

Some of the nation's intelligence leaders are testifying before Congress today. He "will leave the legal analysis for others", the source said.

Some officials said they viewed the prospective appointment of Feinberg as an effort by the White House to put pressure on intelligence agencies to close ranks with the White House.

Both men struggled to provide a consistent rationale for why they could not discuss the conversations with Trump.

After similar questions from Sen.

"You can clear an terrible lot up by simply saying it never happened", Heinrich later said.

Neil Cavuto pointed out that Trump's request for a private dinner with Comey raised some people's eyebrows, but Bondi said it makes sense that the new president would want to meet with the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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