NSA chief, intelligence director won't comment on Trump conversations

Eric Trump left and Donald Trump Jr. executive vice presidents of The Trump Organization pose for

Eric Trump: We have no dealings, no projects with Russia

Wednesday's hearing was a blockbuster in its own right - but Comey's written testimony, released Wednesday by the Senate intelligence committee, shows that Trump was intensely interested in top officials rebutting the Russian Federation stories in public. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has declined to answer questions about this publicly. But each refused to discuss their conversations with the president. Trump fired Comey in May. This frustrated several members of the committee.

In an often contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, two intelligence chiefs testified Wednesday that they've never felt pressured to take improper actions regarding intelligence matters, including the investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Neither would directly answer that query. Heinrich said it would be simple for Coats to just deny it occurred.

"They are deeply, deeply grateful to us for the information derived from 702 has saved, what they said, literally hundreds of lives", said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

"I do not feel it's appropriate for me to ... address that in a public session", Coats said in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer", Burr said. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN: "And he promised me when he was confirmed that he would share and assist the investigation". "Directed", of course, is different than being asked.

In an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" following the hearing, Republican Sen.

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Neither Coats nor Rogers answered the panel when asked if they were directed by Trump to intervene in the FBI's investigation. "Why are you not answering our questions?" a visibly angry King asked. "I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so".

KING: What you feel isn't relevant, admiral.

Heinrich: "So you don't think the American people deserve to know the answer to that question".

Following the hearing, Wyden vented to reporters that the intelligence community witnesses did not say "much of anything except what they wanted to in talking points".

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

"I stand by the comments I made; I am not interested in repeating myself sir", Rogers said, before backing off after an awkward pause and saying: "And I don't mean that in a contentious way". "And I don't mean that in a contentious way".

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MARTIN HEINRICH: I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. Andrew McCabe was asked by Senator Heinrich if he could back up what Comey is expected to say.

The two refused to comply with the request, which they regarded as inappropriate, the Post report said.

The intelligence officials' remarks were given one day before former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey was scheduled to appear before the committee.

Coats: "I plan to do that, but I do have to work through the legal counsel at the White House relative to whether or not they are going to exercise executive (privilege)".

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.

Coats testifies today. Along with the Deputy Attorney General, Acting FBI Director and Head of the National Security Agency. Coats was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the late 1990s and from 2011 through a year ago.

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The Kremlin denies USA intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump's favour, including by hacking into the emails of senior Democrats.

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