U.S. Intelligence Chiefs Refused To Answer Whether Trump Pressured Them To Influence Any Investigations

On Thursday, James Comey shall testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He’s expected to confirm contents of his leaked memo, in which he detailed a conversation where President Trump asked him to shut down the FBI probe into Michael Flynn’s Russian ties. As a warmup round on Wednesday, three current U.S. intelligence officials came before the same committee. None of them would directly address whether or not Trump made the same type of request of them. Courtesy of MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin, these three clips show a stunning refusal by all three intel chiefs, starting with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) grilling Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers in the above clip.

Rubio — who recently heard during an open Senate hearing that Russian hackers detrimentally affected his primary election chances — cut to the chase: “Are prepared to say you have never been asked by the president or the White House to influence an ongoing investigation?” Coats would not budge:

“I am willing to come before the committee and tell you what I know and what I don’t know. What I’m not willing to do is to share what I think is confidential information that ought to be protected in an open hearing, so I am not prepared to answer your question today.”

In response, Rubio stressed that he is not seeing classified information, only to know whether these chiefs had been “asked by anyone to influence an ongoing investigation,” but Coats refused “to go down that road.” Rubio then asked the pair if they’d ever been asked by any administration to issue a knowingly false statement. Rogers refused to directly answer the question or comment upon his conversations with Trump. He simply said that he’d stand by a previous statement:

“To the best of my recollection … I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so .. I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way to shape intelligence in a political way.”

In the below clip, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) expressed disbelief at how Coats and Rogers refused to answer a question that did not involve classified information. 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?'”

However, Coats said that he felt that conversations with the president should not be shared “with the general public.” So, Heinrich stated the obvious — that Coats’ “unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes.”

In the below clip, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe — deputy to Comey and who could reportedly corroborate Comey’s Trump story — for the basis of his refusal to address the same question. McCabe stated that he didn’t want to “step into the special counsel’s lane” by answering the question in front of Congress. King asked for a “legal justification” for McCabe’s refusal and did not receive one in return.

Lots of excuses today!