Two of the nation’s top intelligence officials said Wednesday they did not feel pressure to interfere with the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation amid reports that President Donald Trump had asked them to push back against the probe.
“In the three-plus years that I have been director of the National Security Agency, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate and to the best of my recollection during that same period of service I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so,” NSA Director Mike Rogers told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Dan Coats, who oversees the nation’s intelligence apparatus, echoed those comments. “I have never felt pressured to interfere or intervene in shaping intelligence in any way,” he said.
But both men danced around questions of whether they had ever been asked by Trump to intrude or downplay the matter to the press, as has been reported.
“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to address that in a public session,” Coats said.
Rogers also refused to comment. “I’m not going to discuss the specifics of discussions with the president of the United States,” he said.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, expressed his frustration at the indirect answer to his queries.“There was a chance here to lay to rest some of these press reports,” he said.
Pressed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) about whether Trump had ever asked them to intervene in the FBI investigation, Coats said, “I just hate to keep repeating this. I am willing to come before the committee and tell you what I know and what I don’t know. What I’m not willing to do is share what I think is confidential information.”