Two of the nation’s top intelligence officials told Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and Senate investigators in separate meetings last week that President Donald Trump suggested they say publicly that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, CNN reported early Thursday.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers said their interactions with President Trump were odd and uncomfortable, however they said they did not feel the president was ordering them to interfere in the investigation.
Sources told CNN both Coats and Rogers told investigators they were surprised that Trump suggested they deny any collusion.
Another source told CNN that Trump wanted Coats and Rogers to publicly say that the president was not personally under investigation. However, the source added that neither Coats nor Rogers felt Trump was pushing them to do something they didn’t want to do.
Several media reports say Trump met with Coats and Rogers in March, a few days after former FBI Director James Comey told Congress that his agency was looking into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, to ask them to deny collusion.
Earlier this month, senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee questioned Coats and Rogers but members of both parties grew frustrated as the two men refused to publicly comment on their interactions with the president.
One thing that the two men stated in the public hearing and behind closed doors was that they did not feel pressured do anything.
In the public Senate hearing, Rogers denied that he had been ordered to do anything illegal:
“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral unethical or inappropriate, and to the best of my recollection during that same period of service I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.”
Coats offered a similar rebuttal of claims that President Trump pressured him to interfere in the investigation:
“In my time of service, which is interacting with the President of the United States or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressure – I have never felt pressured – to intervene in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation.”