Former NSA chief refutes report claiming Trump asked him to publicly deny Russia collusion

Former NSA chief refutes report claiming Trump asked him to publicly deny Russia collusion
© Greg Nash

Recently retired National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersFormer GOP House Intel chair: McConnell eating 'manure sandwich' with Trump's national emergency Lawmakers quiz officials on 2020 election security measures Hillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 MORE on Tuesday refuted a report last year that claimed President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE asked him and another top intelligence official to publicly deny there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Washington Post, citing current and former officials, reported in March 2017 that the president asked Rogers and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsEx-Trump official says intel community's testimony interfered in US-North Korea talks Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? Intel agencies' threat assessment matters more than tiff with Trump MORE to push back on the federal probe and that the two intelligence officials refused.

In Rogers’s first public appearance since retiring from his dual-hat role as NSA director and chief of Cyber Command under Trump, he said no such conversations occurred.

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"I was never asked that,” Rogers said at the Hayden Center event, “Presidents, Secrets and Dissent,” hosted at the George Mason University’s Schar School.

When the moderator of the panel discussion, MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace, remarked that this was the first time such a pushback came to light — roughly 18 months after the Post published the story — Rogers replied he would never have accomplished anything if he spent his time trying to correct every erroneous press report.

Wallace also asked if other administration officials such as Vice President Pence made similar requests.

"I was never asked that,” Rogers maintained, noting that he did not have conversations of collusion with either Trump or Pence. "I’ve never been directed to do anything.”

When asked, however, about a key detail in the report that said a senior NSA staffer contemporaneously documented the president’s conversation with Rogers in an internal memo, Rogers sternly replied: “No comment.”

Trump has come under heavy scrutiny for his attacks against special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, who is investigating Russia's election interference and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.