Senator Slams Intel Chiefs For Refusing To Talk Trump, Demands Legal Basis (VIDEO)

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, listens to testimony during hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. After revelations this week that the National Security Agency (NSA) is allowed to ... FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, listens to testimony during hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. After revelations this week that the National Security Agency (NSA) is allowed to gather U.S. phone calls and emails to sift through them for information leading to terrorist suspects, lawmakers are questioning the scope of the information gathered. “Does that data all have to be held by the government?” asked King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who was briefed on the program this week. “I don’t think there is evidence of abuse, but I think the program can be changed to be structured with less levels of intrusion on the privacy of Americans.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday morning devolved into a heated back and forth between Democratic senators and the leaders of the NSA, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, after those intelligence community chiefs refused to comment on reports that the Trump administration has repeatedly attempted to interfere in the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.

Nearly two hours into the hearing, Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with the Democrats, challenged FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, NSA Director Michael Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats for refusing to answer to the committee tasked with overseeing their agencies.

“I would like a legal justification for your refusal to answer,” King said. “Why are you not answering these questions?”

“Is there an invocation of executive privilege?” King added, referring to the possibility that Trump would attempt to stop them from testifying by claiming their conversations are legally protected from disclosure.

Rogers answered that he is “not aware of” an attempt to invoke executive privilege, but said he is in touch with the White House counsel’s office on the matter of what he can and cannot say in a public hearing. “To be honest, I didn’t get a definitive answer,” he said.

Pressed on the question of executive privilege, Rogers shut down King’s line of questioning. “I’m not interested in repeating myself, sir,” he said. “And I don’t mean that in a contentious way.”

“Well, I do mean it in a contentious way,” King snapped. “I don’t understand why you are not answering our questions. You can’t— When you were confirmed, before the Armed Services Committee, you took an oath. ‘Do you solemnly swear to give the committee the truth, the fully truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?’ You answered yes to that.”

Rogers answered that he “feel[s] it’s inappropriate” to reveal details of his private conversations with the president and with Comey in an open hearing.

“What you feel isn’t relevant, admiral,” King fumed. “What you feel isn’t the answer.”

King then tried the same line of questioning with Coats, asking: “What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?”

“I’m not sure I have a legal basis,” Coats admitted. “But I’m more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your question.”

He then quickly added that he would first have to “work through the legal counsel at the White House” to determine what he could say even behind closed doors. Rogers echoed this caveat.

Watch the heated exchange:

Latest DC

Notable Replies

  1. I called his office to enthusiastically congratulate him and urge him to keep it going!

  2. Avatar for ollie ollie says:

    This sounds like contempt of congress to me…

  3. Surely, they knew that they were going to be asked about these conversations and they didn’t get a legal justification for not answering them? Huh??

  4. Those two rendered themselves unemployable after we get rid of Trump.

  5. What you feel isn’t relevant

    One more time for all the diaper-filling anti-anti-Trump pundits!

    @tstmauro Their legal justification is the rarely invoked ‘I DON’T WANNA!’

Continue the discussion at

122 more replies


Avatar for lestatdelc Avatar for ajm Avatar for xpurg8d Avatar for jep07 Avatar for maxie Avatar for duncan Avatar for sniffit Avatar for whiteboar Avatar for lastroth Avatar for geofu54 Avatar for thebishop Avatar for ronbyers Avatar for mrf Avatar for benthere Avatar for tiowally Avatar for timbo Avatar for ktpinnacle Avatar for socalista Avatar for thinski Avatar for lcsparling Avatar for krux Avatar for clare Avatar for stevecoh1 Avatar for anon37557014

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: