President Donald Trump in March asked the director of national intelligence and director of the National Security Agency to push back against the FBI’s investigation into whether members of his campaign colluded with Russian officials last year, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed current and former officials, that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and NSA Director Michael Rogers to publicly deny that any evidence of collusion existed.
He made that request after former FBI Director James Comey confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that his bureau was conducting an investigation into whether there was any “coordination” between Russian officials and Trump’s associates during the campaign, according to the Washington Post.
Two unnamed current and two unnamed former officials cited in the report said that Coats and Rogers deemed Trump’s request inappropriate and refused to do so.
Trump made the request to Rogers in a phone call, according to the Washington Post, and a senior NSA official documented the conversation in an internal memo written at the time.
Senior officials in Trump’s administration also approached top intelligence officials about the possibility of asking Comey to shut down his bureau’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
An unnamed official told the Washington Post that those officials wondered whether they could ask Comey “to shut down the investigation.”
The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment, but told the Washington Post that it “does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals.”
The New York Times reported last week that Trump personally asked Comey in February to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn, a request that Comey also documented in a contemporaneous memo.
Also in February, CNN reported that White House officials — including chief of staff Reince Priebus — asked members of the FBI and other federal agencies to refute stories about contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals.
According to CNN, Comey was one of the officials approached, and refused to comment on the stories because of the ongoing FBI investigation.