Coats and Rogers said they did not feel the public setting of the Senate intelligence committee's hearing was an appropriate venue to discuss their conversations with Trump, which have reportedly included talk of the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe spent much of the hearing explaining the different reasons they wouldn't answer questions. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has already promised to grill Rosenstein on what Trump told him when he said he wanted Comey fired.
King shot back, "Then why are you not answering the questions?"
Neither Coats nor Rogers answered the panel when asked if they were directed by Trump to intervene in the FBI's investigation. We have now learned that Comey isn't the only top official whom Trump approached in an effort to free Flynn from his investigation. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) about the memo he wrote that was cited by Trump to justify Comey's firing, instead repeatedly directing them to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Both Coats and National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers said they would not discuss any private conversations that they have had with Trump, refusing to answer several questions by Republicans and Democrats as the atmosphere in the hearing room grew increasingly tense.
"I understand your answer".
A day before former FBI Director James Comey's high-profile hearing, senators plan to question senior intelligence officials about Trump's controversies and the Russian Federation investigation at a hearing that is supposed to be about re-authorizing a key section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.More news: Intelligence chiefs: No pressure from Trump administration on Russia probe
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Mr Comey is expected to tell Congress that he never assured President Trump that he was not under investigation over alleged links to Russian Federation, a version of events that would contradict the president's claims.
Rachel Cohen, press secretary for Sen. "Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate".
"And the conversations that the president had with each of them about investigations are not classified in any way".
Comey's testimony - released Wednesday afternoon before senators headed into a classified briefing with Coats - jibes with reports that Trump wanted Coats and Rogers to publicly rebut Russian Federation stories.
Coats did not offer any details, but said, "Just because it's in The Washington Post doesn't mean it's declassified".
Rachel Maddow shows how top Trump intelligence officials refused to answer questions about Donald Trump trying to stop the Mike Flynn investigation, even though they had no legal justification for refusing to answer. Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, asked each intelligence official to take a message back to the administration - that they can not hide things from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and are required to be fully forthcoming. Angus King, a ME independent who caucuses with the Democrats, blasted Rogers in the middle of his questioning. 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.