United States intelligence chiefs rebuff questions on Trump inquiry

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He asked the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and the head of the National Security Agency, Adm. Mike Rogers, about media reports that Trump asked them to intervene in the Justice Department investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the broader inquiry surrounding Russian Federation.

Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they would not discuss the specifics of their conversations with the president. Rogers said he was yet to receive a definitive answer.

The Trump White House had been considering Robert Mueller III as a top candidate to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation before the deputy US attorney general changed course and tapped Mueller to serve as special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year's election, two sources familiar with the process told NPR.

"I don't understand why the special counsel's lane takes precedence over the land of the United States Congress" King responded.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.: "Director Coats, you've said as well that it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the president asked for your assistance in blunting the Russian Federation investigation".

But that did not satisfy Democrats, who said there was no reason for them not to divulge the details.

COATS: I think the investigations will determine that.

Coats reiterated a statement he made to The Post earlier in the hearing that he did not believe it was appropriate to publicly discuss private conversations he had with Trump. There's not much question that he felt it was inappropriate because that's when he started keeping what amounted to a diary of these contacts.

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At the close of the hearing, the Republican committee chairman, Sen.

On one subject, Comey confirmed that the president is being truthful: Comey did tell him three times that he was not personally under investigation. "I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel", Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee about his orchestrated leak. In that case, the White House would have to make a decision: Should Trump assert executive privilege over the conversations, or let his intelligence community testify openly about their conversations with him?

The day after the report, Coats declined to answer whether it was true - but Coats also teased that he may be open to answering the question if asked by the right committee. Asked if he would be forthcoming in such a setting, Coats said he meant to, but did not know yet whether the White House would block such discussion by asserting that executive privilege covers his conversations with the president. Mr Comey on Thursday said he had told reporters about the Flynn meeting, in an effort to get a special counsel appointed in the Russian Federation investigation.

"Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate", The Post's national security team reported.

KING: Well, you're making me the judge and jury, as well as the - as the investigator, at this point. What follows are samples of lawmakers' questions and Coats' answers broadcast by C-SPAN.

DETROW: Absolutely, because the other key conversation about pressure and ongoing investigations is the conversation that NPR and many other news outlets have reported that happened between President Trump and former FBI Director Jim Comey.

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.