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 RogersTop Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Lawmakers press tech companies on efforts to combat extremism online Space bureaucracy should not slow America down against competitors MORE on Tuesday refuted a report last year that claimed President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey 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 CoatsHillicon Valley: Facebook expects up to B FTC fine | DHS face scanning at airports sparks alarm | New Twitter tool targets election misinformation | Lawmakers want answers on Google 'Sensorvault' Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling US official says getting White House to focus on Russian interference like 'pulling teeth': CNN 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 (Bob) 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.