Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told associates that President Donald Trump had asked him if he could intervene with then-FBI Director James Comey regarding the federal investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night.
The Post, citing unnamed officials, reported that Trump’s request of Coats came after a White House briefing with officials from multiple government agencies on March 22. After the briefing ended, Trump asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Coats, then in his first week on the job, to stay behind.
Coats, along with with National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.
Trump complained about Comey’s handling of the investigation into Flynn, according to unnamed officials familiar with the account Coats gave to associates. Coats later told others about the conversation and decided against intervening with Comey.
The discussion with Trump came two days after Comey had confirmed under oath, the Post noted, that the FBI was investigating whether Trump’s campaign had coordinated with Russia.
And it came around five weeks after Trump forced Flynn’s resignation, after news outlets reported that Flynn had misled the Vice President and other members of the administration about the nature of his calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States. A day after Flynn’s ouster, Trump reportedly pressured Comey to end the federal investigation into Flynn.
A spokesman for Coats’ office told the Post in a statement: “Director Coats does not discuss his private conversations with the President. However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations.” A spokesman for Pompeo declined to comment.
The Post reported on May 22, citing unnamed current and former officials, that Coats and Rodgers were separately pressured by Trump to publicly deny the existence of an investigation into collusion between his campaign and Russia. Both reportedly refused.