Senate Committee Hearing With Intelligence Chiefs

The hearing room is prepared for Former FBI Director James Comey

However, the hearing offered relatively little new information, and shortly after it ended at midday, it was overtaken by the release of a statement by James Comey, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director who was sacked by Trump on May 9. (That by itself is quite a commentary on the chaos within Trump's inner circle.) Lacking permission, Coats and Rogers should have clearly stated that the communications privilege-which belongs to the president--might come into play, and the Senate Intelligence Committee should take up the issue directly with the White House.

As he closed today's hearing, Sen.

While the intended focus of Wednesday's hearing is the foreign intelligence surveillance law, other senators have said they plan to question Coats, Rogers, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about whether the president meant to derail the Russian Federation investigation when he fired Comey.

Dan Coats is taking the "intelligence" out of "national intelligence director".

Rogers also referred to earlier statements that he wouldn't comment on conversations with the president.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it's standard practice for executive branch officials, such as the ones who testified, to decline to discuss conversations with the president.

Also being interviewed by the committee Wednesday were acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Heinrich said, "I'm simply asking, 'Did that conversation occur?'" Coats responded that he felt it "inappropriate" to answer in a public hearing, and Heinrich laid down the reality: "You realize how simple it would simply be to say, 'No, that never happened?'"

"At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer", Burr warned them.

Rogers, when asked about his contacts with Trump, said, "I am not going to discuss the specifics of any interactions or conversations that I may or may not have had with the president of the United States". I'm not interested in repeating myself, Sir. But Democratic senators, in particular, want to know what he's told intelligence officials in private discussions.

Instead, both men said they never felt pressure to do anything inappropriate, or, in Coats' case, to intervene in an ongoing probe.


However, Coats said that he felt that conversations with the president should not be shared "with the general public". "I didn't think it was appropriate... for the Post to report what it reported". In an oversight hearing, when senators demand non-classified information from administration officials, the officials have limited options.

At the often contentious hearing, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, was the first to press the question.

The back-to-back hearings come as the White House grapples with the fallout from Comey's firing, which led to the appointment of a special counsel to take over the Russian Federation investigation in an effort to prevent even the appearance of Oval Office interference.

"At this point, you filibuster better than most of my colleagues", Heinrich told Rosenstein in response.

Wednesday's hearing was not scheduled to discuss the Russian Federation investigation, and both Coats and Rogers indicated they might be more forthcoming in a classified setting with an intelligence panel. So, Heinrich stated the obvious - that Coats' "unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes".

Maine Senator Angus King repeatedly asked admiral Mike Rogers, the Director of the National Security Agency, if there was any legal basis for their refusal to answer questions.

She said the White House had not yet received any follow-up requests regarding the testimony of Coats or Rogers.

"I stand by my previous statement, Sir", Rogers replied.

However, he did throw some shade at the Washington Post, seemingly questioning the accuracy of the paper's reporting.

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