Trump asked security officials to deny evidence of Russia collusion, sources tell CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump called two top intelligence community figures to request that they deny in public any evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, multiple current and former US officials with knowledge tell CNN.
Trump’s requests to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers came after then-FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed before the House intelligence committee on March 20 that the FBI had an investigation into collusion to influence the 2016 election.
Both Coats and Rogers were uncomfortable with the nature of the President’s request and refused to comply, the sources told CNN.
The Washington Post first reported the story Monday evening, citing current and former officials.
In a response to CNN, a White House spokesperson, who declined to be identified by name, said: “The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals. The President will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people.”
CNN reported in February that the White House had asked the FBI to push back against stories in the press about potential coordination between Trump associates and Russia.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and railed against the investigations into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia repeatedly.
The Post story said a record of Trump’s request to Rogers was 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 former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed last week to head the Justice Department’s investigation.
A source told CNN that Mueller had been briefed on memos Comey had written about his interactions with Trump, including his recollection of Trump asking for the FBI to end its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Congressional investigators have requested copies of Comey’s memos and testimony from Comey himself.
Both Coats and Rogers are scheduled to appear before Congress this week, but not before either the House or Senate intelligence committees, which have separate investigations into Russian meddling in the election.
The Senate Armed Services Committee scheduled a hearing with Coats, and the House Armed Services Committee has one with Rogers.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” that he was as “shocked as anybody else” upon hearing the news and noted Coats and Rogers had appeared before the panel earlier this month.
“Might be good to get them back,” Manchin said.