Senate panel heads back reauthorizing intel law

The hearing room is prepared for Former FBI Director James Comey

Alex Brandon Associated Press The hearing room is prepared for Former FBI Director James Comey

Earlier media reports stated that Trump had asked Coats and Rogers to publicly deny the existence of evidence indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Angus King repeatedly asked Rogers and Coats what was the legal basis for their refusal to answer questions.

When Rogers was pressed on what Trump actually asked him to do, Rogers responded that he'd already answered the question, which he hadn't.

NSA Director Mike Rogers says he has not yet received an answer from the White House about whether the president meant to invoke the authority afforded to him to withhold certain communications from the public. His questions followed a report in the Washington Post on Tuesday evening that the president asked Coats if he could intervene to get Comey to back off the Russian Federation probe, which was touching on fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "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". We're saying, were you ever asked?

On March 22, less than a week after being confirmed by the Senate, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats attended a briefing at the White House together with officials from several government agencies.

The verbal sparring became so intense that Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, intervened at one point during a sharp exchange between California Democrat Kamala Harris and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

"It is my belief that you are inappropriately refusing to answer these questions today", King said angrily.

He added: "I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way ... in an ongoing investigation".

Four top intelligence officials are fielding questions Wednesday on whether Trump intervened into the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the United States elections, the latest development in a tumultuous 24 hours.

Director Michael Rogers (R) and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (L) testify during a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol HIll in Washington, DC, June 7, 2017. "And to the best my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to doing so".

Mark Warrren, the ranking Democrat on the panel, to clear up the allegations that Trump asked him to help derail the investigation, Coats said he doesn't believe it's "appropriate for me to address" discussions he had with the president in "a public session".

Wednesday, Coats and Rogers said they never felt pressured by Trump to impede any investigation.

Trump fired Comey last month in a move that led many to suggest he was trying to undermine the ongoing investigation.

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.

Some of those questions may be answered tomorrow, when former Comey is scheduled to testify before the same committee.

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