Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence, told associates in March that President Donald Trump asked him to intervene with then-FBI Director James Comey and get him to have the bureau back off of its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia.
The incident occurred March 22, less than a week after Coats was confirmed by the Senate. He attended a briefing at the White House along with officials from other government agencies, and according to the Washington Post, as the briefing was wrapping up, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
According to the Post, Trump began complaining about the FBI investigation, which Comey had confirmed was happening two days earlier in a congressional hearing, as well as Comey’s handling of it.
Officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Post that after discussing the conversation with other officials, Coats decided that intervening as Trump had asked would be inappropriate.
Coats is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he will be asked for information about his interactions with the president regarding the FBI investigation.
Here is yet another accusation that the president attempted to obstruct a federal investigation looking into his campaign’s ties to Russia. A prior report said that Trump had asked Coats to publicly deny any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Comey is scheduled to testify Thursday, and it’s already been alleged that the president asked him to drop the investigation as well but that Comey refused.
While the Post’s report makes note of Coats being asked, what of Pompeo? What is his role in this? What actions, if any, has he taken to help the president? Has he been asked to intervene, too?
From the Post:
Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), declined to comment on whether Trump asked Coats to intervene with Comey regarding the Flynn investigation. Hale said in a statement: “Director Coats does not discuss his private conversations with the President. However, he has never felt pressured by the President or anyone else in the Administration to influence any intelligence matters or ongoing investigations.”
A spokesman for Pompeo declined to comment on the closed-door discussions. The White House referred questions to outside lawyers, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Get your popcorn ready. The next two days on C-SPAN should be wildly entertaining.
Read more at the Washington Post.