Intelligence Leaders Testify Before Senate Panel Hearing

Thursday, 08 Jun, 2017

U.S. Sen. Angus King of ME had a tense and testy exchange Wednesday with President Trump's top intelligence officials after they refused to answer questions during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

The members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had one question they asked again and again Wednesday of the country's intelligence chiefs: Did President Trump want you to downplay investigations surrounding Russian Federation?

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats (2nd-R) testifies as he appears alongside acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe (L), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2nd-L) and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers (R) at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in Washington, US, June 7, 2017.

"The chair is going to exercise its right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and committee is on notice to provide witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended all the way across", Burr said.

"I am not going to discuss the specifics of interactions that I may or may have not had with the President", Rogers said, adding he has never felt pressured to do anything unethical.

When asked directly in a followup whether Trump asked him to interfere in the Russian Federation investigations, he said, "I am not going to discuss specifics but I refer to what I just said". Angus King, a ME independent who caucuses with the Democrats, blasted Rogers in the middle of his questioning.

The senators said they were puzzled as to why McCabe would not answer questions about conversations he had with Comey regarding the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director's meetings with the president.

Coats was testifying Wednesday before the Senate intelligence committee.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, used a Wednesday morning hearing to ask two top officials whether they have felt political pressure in any way, but both denied it.

The White House did not respond to questions of whether Trump would claim executive privilege Wednesday. Richard BurrRichard BurrGOP senator threatens to subpoena Comey GOP chairman admonishes intel chiefs Senator blasts NSA chief: "What you feel isn't relevant, admiral" MORE (R-N.C.) told the officials before gaveling out the almost three-hour hearing.

The panel also questioned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who testified publicly for the first time since Comey was sacked.

Later in the hearing, Republican Sen.

The president then started complaining about the FBI investigation and Comey's handling of it, said officials familiar with the account Coats gave to associates.

"Well I do mean that in contentious way", King replied.

"I am willing to come before the committee and tell you what I know and what I don't know".

The only silver lining for the Trump White House may be the formal focus of the hearing: re-authorization of legislation that allows for surveillance of foreign officials, an issue at the center of Trump's own tweets against the Russian Federation investigations. "Now that was not something that was made up by a United States senator".

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". In the statement, Comey says Trump asked him for "loyalty" at a January dinner. "You can't just say, 'This is something I don't feel like answering'".