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​Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Director of the National Security Agency Adm. Michael Rogers testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 7, 2017. Screenshot photo.

—Amy McCullough

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday they never felt pressure to interfere with the ongoing FBI investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, both intelligence leaders also repeatedly refused to say whether the President asked them to intervene in the investigation, saying they would not discuss private conversations with the President in a public hearing.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate,” said Rogers. “And to the best of my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.” 

Similarly, Coats said, “in my time of service, which is in interacting with the President of the United States or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressured. I’ve never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way … with shaping intelligence in a political way, or in relationship.”

In a particularly contentious debate, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) expressed his frustration at the panel’s refusal to answer the committee’s questions, noting the White House has not invoked executive privilege and their discussions with the President were not classified.

“Why are you not answering these questions?” asked King.

“Because I feel it is inappropriate, Senator,” replied Rogers.

“What you feel isn’t relevant, Admiral,” retorted King. “What you feel isn’t the answer.”

Both Rogers and Coats reiterated a public hearing was not the proper venue for such discussions. The tense discussion is likely to continue Thursday morning as former FBI Director James Comey goes before the committee. (Read Comey’s opening statement.)