The Senate intelligence committee is back in the national spotlight for two days of blockbuster hearings and following news that relations between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had reached a boiling point surrounding his recusal from the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation. Both National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats soft-shoed their way around the question, adding that they didn't feel it was appropriate to discuss specifics about conversations they'd had with the president.
However, both Coats and Rogers did say that President Trump had never asked them to engage in any behavior that might be considered either unethical or illegal. Comey remained silent in the presence of real corruption, but leaked like a sieve when Trump reportedly said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".
To refuse to answer the questions in a public hearing "just won't be enough", Warner said. He did say, however, that generally he has "never felt pressured in any way to shape intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation". Admiral Mike Rogers of the National Security Agency also turned aside some questions, which displeased Senator Angus King of Maine.
But the hearing quickly moved to the witnesses' interactions with Trump, after the Washington Post had reported the night before the hearing that Trump asked Coats to convince Comey to end the Russian Federation investigation.
As he closed today's hearing, Sen.
News reports have said Trump sought to pressure Comey to back off his investigation of Flynn, who was sacked in February after he misled White House officials about his communications with Russian officials, including Moscow's ambassador in Washington.
Rogers: "I stand by the comments that I've made". What follows are samples of lawmakers' questions and Coats' answers broadcast by C-SPAN.
Responding to Mr Comey's appearance in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attorney Marc Kasowitz denied key parts of the former intelligence official's account. "Why are you not answering the questions?" But Rogers said he "didn't get a definitive answer" on whether the president would invoke executive privilege, making any of the conversations off-limits to be discussed before the committee.
"Is there an invocation of executive privilege?"
The intelligence officials are also expected to defend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA - the stated topic of the hearing - which will expire on December 31 unless Congress votes to reauthorize it.
"I'm not sure I have a legal basis", admitted Coats.
"If you've not had questions waived off with Mr. Mueller, I think frankly -- and I understand your commitment to the administration -- but Sen".
Rogers refused to expand, standing by his initial comments in the hearing. McCabe repeated his first answer, and Heinrich reminded McCabe again the question was about the conversations that he (McCabe) had with Comey. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, insisted no one ever directed him to derail the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.
"I do not share with the general public conversations that I have with the President or many of my colleagues within the administration that I believe should not be shared", Coats repeated.