The Washington Post reports that President Trump, in efforts to combat the ongoing FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, made separate appeals to a pair of top U.S. intelligence chiefs, asking them to deny any evidence.
Trump contacted the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Michael S. Rogers, shortly after Comey’s testimony confirming the investigation.
“The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation“ said a former intelligence official to the WaPo.
Both Coats and Rogers rejected the request.
Coats may not know the scope of the probe:
As director of national intelligence, Coats leads a vast community that includes the FBI. This does not guarantee that Coats is fully attuned to the ongoing probe, however: James Clapper Jr., the former DNI, recently acknowledged that James Comey did not brief him on the scope of the probe.
Notably, Trump’s appeal was documented by a NSA official, but the agency declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Remember the Memo:
- A senior NSA official documented Trump’s request in a – you guessed it- internal memo.
- Whether a similar memo was prepared by an official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is unknown, but the memo(s) could be made available to the recently appointed special counsel.
White House sounds off on leaks (again):
Asked about the report, a White House spokesperson said the following:
“The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals. The president will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people.”
Flashback – White House sought press pushback months ago:
In February, multiple outlets reported on White House efforts to recruit intelligence agencies -including the FBI – to push back against press reports regarding Trump associates and Russian officials.
Two months later, things have changed dramatically:The White House has shifted its focus from refuting press reports to refuting the FBI.