Intel officials refuse to answer questions on Trump and Russia

Two of the nation's top intelligence officials declined in a testy hearing Wednesday to discuss the specifics of private conversations with President Donald Trump, refusing to say whether they had been asked to push back against an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible coordination between Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

On Wednesday, Coats and Rogers refused to answer senators' questions about their conversations with the president, saying they didn't want to share those private conversations in a public hearing.

Coats was responding to a senator's question about whether Trump pressured him to publicly downplay the significance of the FBI's investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

His public testimony comes on the heels of a Washington Post story that Coats told associates that Trump asked him to try to get then-FBI Director James Comey to stop focusing on Flynn in the ongoing Russian Federation investigation.

The Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing to discuss Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation with top intelligence officials. He demanded to know what legal basis justified Coats' refusal to answer questions.

When Rogers was pressed on what Trump actually asked him to do, Rogers responded that he'd already answered the question, which he hadn't. Director Coats, who said he doesn't even take notes after conversations with the president, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would elaborate on his answer and the report in a closed forum. Richard Burr (R-NC) said the intent of the hearing is about reauthorizing the foreign intelligence surveillance law, but other senators are expected to want to discuss Trump's firing of Comey and whether the president meant to hinder the probe into Russian.

So why wouldn't the intel leaders talk to the Senate Intelligence committee today?

Because the report apparently contains some classified information, Coats was unable to discuss specifics.

After the encounter, Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

In one particularly heated exchange, King lambasted the two intelligence officials for not offering a legal basis for refusing to discuss their discussions with the president about the Russian Federation investigation.

To put it in frustratingly opaque government-speak, these top intelligence officials haven't confirmed whether Trump had inappropriate conversations with them about the FBI investigation. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will also testify. McCabe said it was not appropriate for him to characterize the conversations he had with fired FBI Director James Comey.

"I understand your answer". If there isn't, answer the questions.

The New York Times has reported that on February 14, the day after firing his national security director, Trump told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

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