VIDEO: DNI Coats Won’t Comment On WaPo Report On Trump Russia Request

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats arrives to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on 'Worldwide Threats', Tuesday, May 23, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

This story has been updated.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would not comment during a Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday on the Washington Post report that he was asked by President Trump to push back on the FBI probe into Russia-Trump campaign links.

Asked if by Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-AZ) if the Post report was accurate, Coats said he did not feel it was “appropriate to characterize discussions and conversations with the president.”

“I have always believed that given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that,” Coats said.

The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) followed up on the report and asked specifically about its revelation that other White House officials reached out to the intelligence community seeking that the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn be dropped.

“I am not aware of that,” Coats said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) asked if Coats would turn over to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has been appointed special counsel in the FBI’s probe,  any memos he had documenting conversations with Trump regarding the Russia investigation, to which Coats replied that he had no such documents.

She then asked if he would testify in front of the Senate Intel Committee for their Russia investigation.

“I do believe the information, the discussions that I have with the president are something that should not be disclosed,” Coats said. “On the other hand, if I am called before a investigative committee, I will certainly provide them with what I know and what I don’t know.”

Coats went on to say, when asked by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), that he would be forthcoming with Mueller on the details about his conversations with Trump about the Russia probe if Mueller sought those details.

Towards the end of the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Coats if he discussed with National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers — who was also reported by the Washington Post to have received a request from Trump to push back on the Russia probe — efforts by Trump to “stifle” the investigation.

After a long silence, Coats dodged the question.

“That is something that, I, um would like to withhold, that question at this particular time,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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