Top Intel Officials: Trump Wanted Them to Publicly Refute Charges of Collusion With Russia

CNN is reporting that sources have revealed some of what is coming out of meetings held last week with Robert Mueller’s investigatory team, as well as Senate investigators.

According to CNN, two top intelligence officials have said that President Trump attempted to persuade them to publicly announce that there was no collusion between Russia and his team.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers described their interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but said they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere, according to multiple sources familiar with their accounts.

Sources say both men went further than they did in June 7 public hearings, when they provided little detail about the interactions.

To be clear, they’re not saying he asked them to stop the investigation, but that he wanted them to say there was no collusion.

It’s an odd request, any way you slice it. For starters, if there’s no collusion, let the investigation clear your name. If there’s no collusion, you’ve got nothing to worry about, so just go about your business.

The meetings with Coats and Rogers happened back in March, as a frustrated Trump sought to tamp down some of the growing noise around the Russia investigation. He met with them after former FBI Director James Comey’s first public confirmation of an investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign team.

When Coats and Rogers appeared earlier in June before the Senate Intelligence Committee, neither were willing to go into much detail about conversations with Trump. They both shared similar lines, saying they’d never felt pressured to interfere with the Russia investigation, but would not share much more, frustrating the members of the Senate Intel panel.

The reason for their public reticence, one congressional source told CNN, is that Coats and Rogers had asked the White House for guidance on whether their conversations with the President were protected by executive privilege, which meant they would not be allowed to discuss it. They did not get an answer from the White House before testifying and did not know how to answer the committee. The result was an awkward and contentious public hearing.

In classified follow-up meetings with the Senate intelligence committee, they were more forthcoming, according to sources familiar with the closed-door session.

Rogers, like James Comey, has documented his meeting with the president, in a memo written by Richard Ledgett, his deputy at the NSA, although it is not as extensive. It is a single page noting Trump’s request, and giving Rogers’ concerns about the oddity of the request.