Top intelligence officials dodge questions about Trump interactions

Two top intelligence officials on Wednesday denied feeling pressured by President Trump to intervene in the handling of intelligence in any inappropriate way — but refused to answer specific questions about their interactions with the president.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believed to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate,” NSA head Adm. Michael Rogers told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I do not recall ever feeling pressure to do so,” he insisted.


During a tense exchange with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLeaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Mobile providers at center of privacy storm Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks MORE (Va.), Rogers declined to discuss the specifics of his interactions with the president.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDems zero in on Trump and Russia National security center launches program to help US firms guard against foreign hackers House Dems unveil election security, voting measures in sweeping anti-corruption bill MORE, a former Republican senator, similarly refused to address his conversations with the president, calling a public hearing an “inappropriate forum” for the discussion.

"I’m willing to come before the committee and tell you what I know and don’t know," he said. "What I’m not willing to do is share information I think ought to be protected in an opening hearing."

But he made a similar statement as Rogers: “In my time of service, I have never been pressured, I have never felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way.”

Their answers did not satisfy Warner — or Republican Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Rubio slams NY Times for 'absurd criticism' of Bolton over Iran MORE (R-Fla.), who also repeatedly pushed Rogers and Coats on whether they were asked to influence an ongoing investigation.

The two officials similarly declined to respond to Rubio’s questions.

Wednesday’s hearing, ostensibly on an expiring foreign surveillance law, quickly turned into a grilling on a Tuesday report from The Washington Post that Trump had asked Coats to intervene with then-FBI Director James Comey to curtail the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

“You may not have felt pressured but if he’s even asking, to me that is a very relevant piece of information,” Warner said. “At some point these facts have to come out.”