USA intel chiefs 'never felt pressured to intervene' with Russian Federation probe

Senator Mark Warner: “Unthinkable, if the President asked Comey to Back Off Investigation.”

Senator Mark Warner: “Unthinkable, if the President asked Comey to Back Off Investigation.”

Both Coats and Rogers began the hearing by warding off questions about reports that Mr. Trump had asked them to help weigh in against the FBI investigation into Russian meddling. Speaking broadly, Coats told the panel he has not felt pressured to intervene or interfere with intelligence gathering or ongoing investigations.

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.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday delivered an unsparing scolding to four senior intelligence and law enforcement officials who repeatedly refused to answer lawmakers' questions.

"I think we need you in the SCIF sooner than later", Manchin said.

When the two were alone, Entous reports, "The president then started complaining about the FBI investigation and Comey's handling of it, said officials familiar with the account Coats gave to associates".

Coats did not offer any details, but said, "Just because it's in The Washington Post doesn't mean it's declassified".

But Coats is likely to be questioned extensively about the report on Wednesday morning, when he is scheduled to join acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Ron Wyden (D-OR) monologued instead of asking questions during Wednesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

Coats: "In my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the United States, or anybody in this administration, I have never been pressured".

If the president directed his intelligence chiefs to do anything about the FBI investigation, that is, of course, more serious.

Early Wednesday, Trump announced his pick to succeed Comey at the FBI - Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official who served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation.

Rogers says he will not publicly discuss private conversations he had with the president.

NBC News reported last month that Comey wrote internal memos expressly saying Trump had tried to intervene directly with him, as well, to stall the investigation.

Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman and the top Democrat on the committee, says that he will use some of his time to press members of the Intelligence community on the Russian Federation reports.

Trump has consistently pushed back against suggestions that his campaign coordinated with Russian Federation and has called the investigation a hoax.

While infrastructure was initially seen as an area where Republican and Democrats could work together, Democrats have balked at Trump's plans for financing improvements, arguing they would result in taxpayer-funded corporate profits, with costs offloaded on consumers.

The president has frequently railed against leaks, and a government contractor, Reality Winner, was charged Monday with leaking an NSA document that details Russian efforts to penetrate USA election systems.

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