Justice ethics experts clear Mueller to head Russian Federation probe

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats declined Tuesday to respond to a report that President Donald Trump asked him to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and the Russian government.

Last week, The New York Times reported that Trump explicitly asked Comey, then the director of the F.B.I., to shutter his agency's investigation into Mike Flynn, the former national security adviser who resigned amid scandal in February.

After McCain's interview with CNN, Coats declined to comment before the Senate committee on whether Trump asked him to deny information regarding the allegations about Russian Federation, saying he considered his conversations with the president private.

White House officials said Comey's testimony about the scope of the FBI investigation upset Trump, who dismissed the investigations as a "witch hunt".

Schiff: Are you aware of any efforts the president has made to enlist the help of the intelligence community to push back on a narrative involving the collusion issue?

The former Central Intelligence Agency director said that it became "clear" to him last summer that Russian Federation was engaged in an aggressive and wide-ranging effort to interfere in the 2016 election.

Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russian Federation investigation and Congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI's work, the Post reported. And while Trump's attempts to get credible people to publicly vouch for him certainly adds to the case for obstruction, it's a secondary data point, and one that follows reporting from February about the White House asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation to "knock down" reports of possible wrongdoing by members of the Trump team.

Now President Trump faces an unprecedented test in the form of a special counsel investigation. "You could be under investigation and not know", says Jennifer Palmieri, director of communications for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and in the Obama White House, .

Both Trump and numerous Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly denied claims of alleged Moscow's collusion with the USA president's campaign, as well as of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 United States election.

Asked whether The Post report was accurate, Mr Coats declined to comment.

He also said that if he is called before an investigative committee, such as the Senate Intelligence Committee, "I certainly will provide them with what I know and what I don't know".

The relevant paragraph, which was attributed to three anonymous Trump administration officials, said they wondered if Trump "simply did not possess the interest or the knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would harm American allies". Trump abruptly fired Comey weeks later.

With Trump gone from Washington D.C., it's slowly sinking in: Trump did not bargain that sacking Comey would be such a big deal!

The department appointed Mueller special counsel last week to ensure an independent probe, but an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented raised questions over how Mueller would be allowed to operate.

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