Trump asked top intel officials to defend him on Russian Federation claims

The Latest: Deputy AG stands by memo used to justify firing

Mr. Trump made the requests to Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, and Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence.

Both Coats and Rogers were uncomfortable with the nature of the President's request and refused to comply, the sources told CNN.

President Donald Trump asked two of the government's top intelligence chiefs to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his campaign and Russian Federation during the 2016 election, multiple current and former USA officials confirmed to CNN Monday.

Comey reportedly maintained a paper trail to document what he viewed as improper attempts by the White House to influence his investigation.

A senior White House official is under investigation by the FBI related to Russian meddling in the US presidential election. The president has repeatedly said there was no collusion.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel last week to oversee the growing probe into Russian possible ties to Trump associates.

The Russians saw Flynn as an ally, and while officials expressed their concerns, they also raised the possibility that the Russians may have exaggerated their clout on Trump's inner circle. Officials said participants got an average of $125 per month, while households got an average of $258.

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So it should indicate just how seriously the White house is taking the fallout from The Times report that the administration sent out McMaster and Tillerson on Sunday to defend this flimsy talking point.

"The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals", a White House spokesperson said.

"The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russian Federation as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people", the statement said.

The conversations deeply concerned U.S. intelligence officials, some of whom acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump's national security adviser, current and former governments officials said.

The fact that the significant person of interest is a senior White House official inside the West Wing means that there has been a breach in Trump's firewall of plausible deniability.

"Can we ask him to shut down the investigation?"

When Comey tried to explain to the President that leak investigations are hard to pursue because law enforcement officers often end up having to threaten to jail journalists, Trump said he should throw the journalists in jail, the source said.

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Trump, on first major trip overseas as President, has sought to shake off the damaging political blowback from the drama, exacerbated by the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller last week. Trump disputes those accounts.

Two former campaign officials said Trump and Flynn became close on the campaign trail during long days of travel on the road. The former director will testify before the Senate intelligence committee after the Memorial Day holiday. Smith called Trump's actions "an appalling abuse of power". "By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation".

Rogers was taken aback but tried to respectfully explain why he could not do so, the officials said.

The existence of the memo was first reported by The New York Times.

The Washington Post subsequently reported that President Barack Obama's defense secretary and director of national intelligence had recommended that Rogers be removed as head of the NSA. Trump, who liked employees to sign nondisclosure agreements, knows Flynn had at least one private meeting with Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Russian officials, and has been in the room for dozens of other sensitive meetings. If Trump and Congress (especially Republicans) want to retain the trust of the public and uphold our democratic institutions, they need to ensure that the FBI continues its investigation and continues to regard it as a top priority.

Lewandowski said he has not spoken with anyone about joining the administration, even though officials say he has spoken to Trump and White House aides several times this week.

"And it's got to come from Director Comey himself", Feinstein said.

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As the director of national intelligence, Coats leads the vast USA intelligence community, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Coats's predecessor in the job, James Clapper, recently acknowledged that Comey did not brief him on the scope of the Russian Federation investigation.

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