According to the latest meetings with the Special Counsel headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller, as well as separate meetings with Senate investigators, U.S. President Donald Trump made a concerted effort to persuade Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers to publicly deny claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. According to Coats’ and Rogers’ testimony, while they were never outright ordered by Trump to interfere, they did describe their interactions with the President in regards to the Russia investigation as uncomfortable. However, neither Coats nor Rogers felt pressured enough to go along with those suggestions publicly. These conversations seem to have occurred a couple of days after former FBI director James Comey first publicly confirmed the existence of a federal investigation into Russian ties with the Trump campaign.
This is in line with Trump’s public reactions to reports of an ongoing Russia investigation. For example, in a June 16 tweet, he wrote, “After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my ‘collusion with the Russians,’ nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!” Meanwhile, these are more revealing disclosures from Coats and Rogers than they gave in public hearings earlier this month. While both alluded to not feeling pressured by the President, they were very hesitant to reveal any details about the content of their conversations with Trump. According to CNN, it appears that the hesitance came from Coats and Rogers inquiring the White House about whether or not they were allowed to disclose that information; the White House reportedly never responded to that inquiry, which only made the two more confused on how to approach the public hearing.
This information comes out as Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security during the final days of Barack Obama’s administration, told the House Intelligence Committee that Comey did not open this investigation on just a hunch, as he defended the decision of the previous administration to not make the investigation immediate public knowledge.