Intelligence Leaders Testify Before Senate Panel Hearing

Reality Winner

Reality Winner

In an often contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, two intelligence chiefs testified Wednesday that they've never felt pressured to take improper actions regarding intelligence matters, including the investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.

"However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations", Hale said in a statement.

While the intended focus of Wednesday's hearing is the foreign intelligence surveillance law, other senators have said they plan to question Coats, Rogers, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about whether the president meant to derail the Russian Federation investigation when he fired Comey.

But he added: "In the three-plus years that I have been director of the NSA, to the best of my recollection I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral or unethical".

"What is classified about a conversation involving whether or not you should intervene in the FBI investigation?" asked a clearly exasperated King.

Questions about Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, and ensuing congressional and FBI investigations into Moscow's ties with Trump associates, have dogged the president since he took office.

Mr Comey reportedly told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to be left alone with the president.

Rogers said, "I feel it is inappropriate".

Coats also said that if he is called before an investigative committee, such as the Senate Intelligence Committee, "I certainly will provide them with what I know and what I don't know".

The hearing brought four senior intelligence and law enforcement officials before the committee on Wednesday.

Coats said he didn't have a specific legal justification for declining to answer such questions, but suggested he might be able to do so in the classified, closed briefing later in the day.

The conversations with Coats and Rogers took place in the wake of Comey testifying on March 20 that the FBI was investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. After the hearing, Sen.

Rogers also offered what appeared to be a scripted dodge to the question. King said he found Comey to be credible and honest, but he feels the focus cannot stray from the real problem - which is Russia's interference with the 2016 election. "As you noted, he did so under oath". "If the president is asking you to intervene or downplay - you may not have felt pressure, but if he's even asking, to me, that is a very relevant piece of information".

Heinrich: You've said it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the president asked for your assistance in blunting the Russian Federation investigation.

That includes Sens. Marco Rubio and John McCain, who both grilled the witnesses with just as little success as their Democratic counterparts.

"And once again, senator, I will say that I do believe it's inappropriate for me to discuss that in an open session", Coats responded. Second-hand reports of Rosenstein's promises and comments trickled out of the meetings, one in the House and one in the Senate, but Wednesday will mark the first time lawmakers can get Rosenstein on the record answering questions himself.

Long lines await to enter the doors for James Comey's senate testimony on June 8, 2017.

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