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3 key takeaways from Wednesday's Senate hearing with U.S. intelligence officials

11 June 2017

The newspaper reported on Tuesday that Coats, a Trump appointee, told associates in March that the president asked him if he could intervene with then FBI director James Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in its Russian Federation probe. "To be honest, I didn't get a definitive answer", he said.

"You're asking me... [to] comment on the integrity of the Washington Post's reporting?"

While Coats, a former USA senator familiar with the chamber's traditions of collegial courtesy, appeared visibly unnerved by some of the questioning, Rogers was more defiant. McCabe said the FBI, under special counsel Robert Mueller, is continuing its Russian Federation investigation "in an appropriate and unimpeded way" in the wake of Comey's firing. "And when there are ongoing investigations, I think it's inappropriate to ..."

Two of the nation's top intelligence officials declined in a testy hearing Wednesday to discuss the specifics of private conversations with President Donald Trump, refusing to say whether they had been asked to push back against an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible coordination between Trump's campaign and the Russian government. A couple of them asserted that they didn't "feel" pressured, but nobody would say what Trump had asked them.

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

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ABC News reported late Tuesday evening that there will be much in Comey's testimony "that will make the White House uncomfortable, but he will stop short of saying the president interfered with the agency's probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn".

King noted that none of the men were answering any of the questions the American public has, but none of the men gave a shit because they all wanted off the hot seat. He also brought on Jeannie Rhee, a former prosecutor and lawyer in the Obama Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, whose biography describes her background in "criminal law, criminal procedure, executive privilege, civil rights and national security". "I am willing to come before the committee and tell you what I know and what I don't know".

Comey is scheduled to testify before the committee on Thursday morning, and his prepared statement was posted on the committee's website.

By the end of it, King said they would have to provide a legal answer why they couldn't answer the questions.

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.

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Afterward, Coats told other officials that Trump had asked him to get Comey to back off the investigation of Flynn and other campaign associates - but the intelligence official declined.

"Well, I do mean it in a contentious way", King said.

MARK WARNER: All I'd say. When asked if he knew that was the case, he responded with answers that did not directly address the question.

"Director Coats, you've said as well that it would be inappropriate to answer a simple question about whether the President asked for your assistance in blunting the Russian investigation", said Sen.

Both Coats and Rogers agreed that the "appropriate" thing was to discuss the matter in the closed session, which was set to take place later Wednesday afternoon.

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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.

3 key takeaways from Wednesday's Senate hearing with U.S. intelligence officials