Trump Reportedly Asked Intelligence Chiefs to Deny Collusion Evidence
- Author: Jon Douglas Jun 04, 2017,
Jun 04, 2017, 5:38
National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers was asked by President Donald Trump to publicly push back against the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by Trump associates, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.
According to the Post's sources, both Coats and Rogers felt Trump's request was "inappropriate" and refused to comply.
The meeting came a day after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, which the president later said was partially due to Comey's handling of the investigation into whether any of Trump's associates colluded with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russian Federation investigation and Congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI's work, the Post reported. "The problem wasn't so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation", a former senior intelligence official told the Post of Trump's request to Coats.
"Are you able to assist in this matter?" one official said of the line of questioning from the White House.Comey's agreement to testify in front of the congressional intelligence committees will likely complicate Mueller's probe and will limit what the former director can publicly disclose.
"The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals", a White House spokesperson told the Post.
Mueller also visited FBI headquarters and discussed with the counter intelligence agents, who have been involved in the investigation of Russia's meddling in the USA elections since last July. NBC News confirmed the existence of the memo, citing an N.S.A. official who also said that Coats and Rogers discussed their respective interactions with Trump.
Trump reportedly asked intelligence chiefs...
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that he was as "shocked as anybody else" upon hearing the news and noted Coats and Rogers had appeared before the panel earlier this month.
When Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the committee's chairman, asked Coats about the story, the former Republican senator from IN did not deny the report but said he didn't want to characterize or comment any private conversations with the president.
Gianforte, who has tried to align himself with Trump, defended himself as the criminal charge was announced Wednesday, saying the reporter was being aggressive and grabbed him by the wrist in their exchange at his campaign office. "I was in Europe and he was in the White House", Coats replied, fidgeting with a pen on the desk before him.
The Washington Post reports that Trump is eyeing an outside legal team to defend him during Mueller's investigation.