US President accused of asking FBI Chief to drop Flynn inquiry

Trump asked intelligence officials to deny evidence of Russia collusion

The president made the request after then Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey revealed that the agency had been investigating Russian interference into the election since July 2016.

Coats told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would not comment on the Washington Post report late yesterday that Trump pressed both him and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian Federation during last year's presidential election.

The Post story said a record of Trump's request to Rogers was detailed in a memo from a senior NSA official - and that memo, as well as any that may be from the DNI's office, would be available to Mueller, the former FBI director now heading the Justice Department's investigation. Rogers took notes just after the request was made, as did Comey when he was reportedly asked by Trump to back off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn during a February 14 Oval Office meeting.

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.

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign", Brennan said.

Legal experts say this could be a good idea as investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to swing the 2016 election continue deepening.

Trump's conversation with Adm. Michael Rogers, the NSA director, was documented in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the Post.

"I made clear in my confirmation hearing for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, my role and the role of the director of national intelligence is to provide intelligence information relevant to policy makers so they can base their judgments on that", Coats, a former Republican senator, said. Both Coats and Rogers declined to comment publicly on the recent reports when they appeared before Congress on Tuesday, for matters unrelated to the Russian Federation probe.

On May 19, Reuters reported that Trump denied asking Comey to drop the probe and decried a "witch hunt" against him.

Asked about the Post report when he appeared today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats declined to comment, saying it would not be appropriate.

Trump fired Comey on May 9. "I was in Europe and he was in the White House", Coats replied, fidgeting with a pen on the desk before him.

Despite the Post's sourcing, its report did not provide documented evidence of Trump's requests.

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