AFP | Fired FBI director James Comey confirmed Wednesday that US President Donald Trump urged him to drop a probe into his former national security advisor Michael Flynn - a bombshell revelation ahead of his hotly-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill.
The Senate intelligence committee is back in the national spotlight for two days of blockbuster hearings and following news that relations between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had reached a boiling point surrounding his recusal from the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation.
Both Coats and Rogers said they had contacted the White House to ask whether it meant to invoke executive privilege regarding the president's conversations with them, which could prevent the intelligence chiefs from testifying about them. "They've tried to interfere in our elections going back to the '60s but, let me stress, never like this, like they did in 2016".
Mueller might not be at Wednesday's hearing, but with Rosenstein and McCabe in the room, questions of how the federal and Senate investigations will co-exist are likely to come up.
Trump announced in January that he was nominating Coats to serve as DNI, an office which is responsible for overseeing USA intelligence agencies and for briefing the president on global developments.
Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Richard Burr, of North Carolina, said Tuesday that he will focus on reauthorizing a key portion of a US surveillance law that is set to expire later this year.
That potential bombshell testimony - in which Comey also may address whether Trump urged him to halt or ease up on an investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his ties to Russian Federation - comes Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"I'm not prepared to answer your question today", said Coats.
On Wednesday, senators could ask for greater context about alleged White House pressure on Mr. Comey to kill parts of his investigation.
"However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations", Hale said in a statement.
Rogers refused to discuss details of the any conversation, but stated that he didn't feel that he has been asked to do anything "illegal or immoral" or feel that he was "pressured".
"If any of this is true, it would be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence professionals - an act that could erode the public's confidence in our intelligence institutions", Senator Mark Warner said.
"Because of the sensitive nature and the executive privilege aspect of this, I do need to be talking to the general counsel and the White House", Rogers said.
"Why are you not answering the questions?"
Warner responded. "Because that is what the questions are being asked about, reports that nobody has laid to rest here that the President intervened directly in an ongoing FBI investigation".
"I understand your answer".
On Wednesday and Thursday, four current intelligence officials, along with one former one, will all be testifying under oath before the same Senate panel.
"Our intelligence leaders could have laid allegations against (Trump) to rest".