Intel officials refuse to answer questions on Trump and Russia

Rogers at the hearing Wednesday said he's never been asked to do anything illegal or felt pressure to do anything immoral during his three years as head of the intelligence agency.

Warner says that the committee is prepared for the gentlemen to "hide behind executive privilege" but will press them hard on questions about whether Mr. Trump pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn and also urged Coats and Rogers to publicly downplay the investigation.

DNI spokesman Brian Hale said in advance of the hearing, "Director Coats does not discuss his private conversations with the President".

Specifically, Trump reportedly asked both men to publicly deny that there was evidence showing the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, and Coats was further asked to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to drop its probe of Michael Flynn.

In a preview of the Senate Intelligence Committee's highly anticipated hearing with former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday, Sen.

The hearing Wednesday came amid persistent reports that Trump asked Coats, Rogers, Comey and possibly other top intelligence and justice officials to help shield former national security advisor Michael Flynn, which potentially could lead to obstruction of justice charges against the United States president.

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Two US intelligence leaders told Congress on Wednesday they were never pressured by the White House, as they were grilled on reports that President Donald Trump urged them to downplay probes into an aide's Russian Federation ties. Coats made the obvious analysis of the situation and decided that hitting up Comey to take it down a notch would be "inappropriate", which put an end to the issue.

Coats also told associates that Trump asked if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James B. Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russian Federation probe, according to officials'.

The hearing was often contentious, particularly when Democratic senators questioned the intelligence officials. And, he added, "I do not recall having been pressured to do so".

"I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic questions speaks volumes", Heinrich replied. In addition to Coats, Rogers and Rosenstein, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also testified.

The president then complained about Comey's handling of the FBI investigation, officials familiar with Coats' account told the paper. Any attempt by the White House or even the President himself to exploit this community as a tool for political purposes is deeply, deeply troubling.

Other senators also signaled they'd use the hearing as an opportunity to push for more information about the Comey firing - and the Russian Federation investigation - even though the hearing is supposed to focus on FISA.

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Coats says he is not sure he has a legal basis for refusing.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the committee, ended the hearing by appearing to rebuke the intelligence officials for their testimony.

Today, we will have an opportunity to ask Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about his role in the Comey firing as well.

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 US election systems.

Mike Toohey, president of the Waterways Council Inc, an inland waterways infrastructure advocacy group, said he was pleased to see the president addressing what he called the "silent r" of the transportation system - rivers.

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