Two of the top U.S. intelligence officials have told special counsel Robert Mueller and Senate investigators that President Donald Trump asked them to publicly disprove claims that his campaign colluded with Russia.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the national security agency, went further in private and separate meetings with investigators in describing the president’s actions than they did in public congressional hearings earlier this month, reported CNN.
Sources told the network that both officials were surprised that Trump would suggest that they publicly declare he wasn’t involved in election collusion.
Both Coats and Rogers told investigators that the Trump’s request made them feel odd and uncomfortable, but neither official believed the president had given them orders to interfere with the Russia investigation.
The closed-door meetings are classified, but both Democratic and Republican sources provided some details about them to CNN.
Then-FBI director James Comey had privately told the president he was not under investigation, before he was fired, and one source told CNN that Coats and Rogers told investigators that Trump wanted them to say the same thing in public.
Neither official believed Trump was pushing them to do something they did not want to do, but neither Coats or Rogers acted on his suggestion.
The Washington Post first reported last month that Trump met with Coats and Rogers in March to seek their assistance in pushing back against the Russia probe after Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating links between the Republican’s campaign and the Kremlin during the election.
Senators from both parties were frustrated June 7 when neither Coats or Rogers would tell them what the president had said during those meetings.
A congressional source told CNN that Coats and Rogers had asked the White House whether those conversations were protected by executive privilege, but they never received an answer before their testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
They were more forthcoming during the private sessions with investigators, and Rogers even turned over a memo documenting his March conversation with Trump, sources said.
That one-page memo, written by his deputy Richard Ledgett, contains few details, unlike a memo created by Comey about his private meeting with Trump.