‘Your unwillingness speaks volumes’: Senator rattles intel officials for stonewalling on Trump
A Democratic senator grilled intelligence and law enforcement officials on their conversations with President Donald Trump and the firing of FBI director James Comey.
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, refused to confirm or deny reports that Trump had asked him to push back on the FBI investigation into his campaign ties to Russia, and NSA director Mike Rogers and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein also refused to discuss such efforts by the president.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) then questioned acting FBI director Andrew McCabe whether he’d discussed with Comey the president’s reported request for loyalty from the law enforcement official, but he refused to answer.
“You’re not invoking executive privilege and, obviously, it’s not classified,” Heinrich said. “This is the Oversight Committee — why would it not be appropriate for you to share that conversation with us?”
McCabe said he’d let Comey speak for himself Thursday, when he testified before Congress.
“We certainly look forward to that,” Heinrich said. “I think your unwillingness to share that conversation is an issue.”
Heinrich then turned to Coats, who had previously said he felt it would be inappropriate to discuss his conversations with the president before an open hearing.
“I don’t care how you feel — I’m not asking whether you felt pressured (to interfere with the investigation),” Heinrich said. “I’m simply asking, did that conversation occur?”
Coats again declined to answer, and Heinrich asked why he was so reluctant to do so.
“This is not releasing any classified information, but you realize how simple it would be to say, ‘No, that never happened?'” Heinrich said. “Why is it inappropriate, Director Coats?”
Coats said he believed conversations between himself and the president were, for the most part, confidential — and Heinrich continued.
“You can clear an awful lot up by saying it never happened,” Heinrich said. “I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes.”