Intel chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to intervene in investigations

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"I do not recall feeling pressured to do so".

"I'm not sure I have a legal basis", Coats responded.

But Coats appeared to flatly contradict that with his blanket statement that he never felt pressured to interfere or intervene in any investigation by the president or anyone in his administration.

"I know a lot of people will use this hearing to talk about Russia", Mr. Burr said.

"You're in positions whereby you're required to keep this committee fully and now informed of intelligence activities", Burr said.

"In my time of service".

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the second-ranking official at the Department of Justice who signed a letter recommending Comey's dismissal, will testify a day ahead of Comey's own hotly anticipated testimony.

WARNER: I understand your answer.

Top intelligence officials in the USA government have taken a bunker mentality when it comes to the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, refusing to share details of presidential conversations in open Senate testimony.

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"Just because it's published in The Washington Post doesn't mean it's now unclassified", Coats told McCain.

King was not satisfied, and suggested the Special Counsel did not hold rank over the United States Senate Intelligence Committee. And here's a blow-by-blow transcript of how it went down starting with Heinrich questioning Acting FBI Director McCabe.

Trump has made identifying "leakers" one of his top priorities as part of an effort to counter Russian Federation stories and the topic of Wednesday's hearing - FISA surveillance - plays to Trump's strengths on this issue. The intelligence chiefs are all key figures in the investigation, but have rarely spoken publicly, and not in one place, at one time, and under oath.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning he would nominate Christopher Wray to replace Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Comey is slated to testify on Thursday. In a May 9 letter informing the Obama appointee that he was being fired, Trump asserted that Comey had told him on three occasions that he was not under investigation.

McCabe said it would be inappropriate to discuss issues that might end up being part of the special counsel's investigation into Russian activities during the election. But Democratic senators, in particular, want to know what he's told intelligence officials in private discussions.

The Post last month reported Trump had appealed to Rogers, if he could, to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Neither official has done so. Any attempt by the White House or even the President himself to exploit this community as a tool for political purposes is deeply, deeply troubling.

Flynn had served as an enthusiastic surrogate for Trump during the campaign and then was sacked after just 24 days as national security adviser over revelations he misrepresented his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The Trump administration scored a victory this week when it arrested a 25-year-old NSA contractor, Reality Winner, and charged her with espionage for allegedly leaking an NSA report showing Russian interference in the election.