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USA intelligence chiefs deny White House pressure to ease Federal Bureau of Investigation probe

10 June 2017

Coats told associates in March that Trump asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI chief James Comey to get the bureau to back off its investigation into Michael Flynn, who was sacked as national security adviser after hiding his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak from White House officials, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

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.

The hearing, called to discuss Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation but focused on Comey's sacking - was watched by millions across the United States and was dubbed by the media as Washington's Super Bowl.

"In the three-plus years I have been director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate", Rogers said.

In a statement to the Post, a spokesperson for Coats said the intelligence director had "never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations".

USA intelligence chiefs have refused to say whether Donald Trump asked them to curb an FBI-led investigation into contacts between his campaign and Moscow.

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Mike Warner of Virginia, said the latest news on Coats "raises to me a huge amount of questions".

Comey on Thursday will testify before the same committee.

The Justice Department on May 17 appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the FBI investigation.

"Well, I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes", Heinrich said.

Rogers continued: "I have also answered that those conversations were classified".

For contrast, take House Speaker Paul D. Ryan's, R-Wis., answer Wednesday to the same question posed by a reporter: "Has the president ever asked you to weigh in publicly on his behalf on some of the Russian Federation allegations?"

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"There was no assertion of executive privilege, and thus I don't understand why these individuals did not answer all of our questions today", Collins said. "Why are you not answering the questions?"

It was then that Trump started complaining about the Flynn investigation, The Post reported, citing officials familiar with the account that Coats gave to his associates.

"That was an attack on American institutions", Democratic Sen.

Warner, along with several other senators, kept pushing and ultimately expressed frustration with the intelligence chiefs.

Mr Comey believed the attorney general should protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation from White House influence, officials told the paper.

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USA intelligence chiefs deny White House pressure to ease Federal Bureau of Investigation probe