5 things to watch: Coats, Rogers, McCabe and Rosenstein testify

Maine U.S. Republican Sen. Susan Collins at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Maine U.S. Republican Sen. Susan Collins at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing

Senator Angus King, independent of ME, was forced to demand answers after three - Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Admiral Mike Rogers, the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats - refused to answer basic questions.

Additionally, we have seen reports that the President asked at least two of the leaders of our nation's intelligence agencies to publicly downplay the Russian Federation investigation.

FBI Director James Comey waits to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on "Russia's intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017.

In a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, two senior intelligence officials refused to say whether they had been asked by Donald Trump to make false statements.

Mr Coats also said he has never been pressured or felt pressure to intervene in shaping intelligence products.

Both declined to discuss their conversations with Trump, answering in general terms.

"Not that I'm aware of -- because I feel it's inappropriate", Rogers said.

The hearing demonstrated how tough it might be for Congress to determine whether Trump has indeed leaned on intelligence officials to smother or counter the FBI's Russian Federation investigation, which is now being overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller.

There are "reports, that nobody has laid to rest here, that the president of the United States has intervened directly in an ongoing FBI investigation and we've got no answers from any of you", Warner said.

On March 22, less than a week after being confirmed by the Senate, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats attended a briefing at the White House with officials from several government agencies. Comey associates say that before the director was sacked in May, the president had asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn, and Comey refused.

Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, said Wednesday it would be his first question of the hearing.

Coats declined to comment about those interactions when asked by senators on the Armed Services Committee last month but signaled he may be more forthcoming before the intelligence panel.

Just a day after Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as the special counsel for the Russian Federation investigation, he headed to the Capitol for a pair of closed-door briefings about his decision.

Some officials said they viewed the prospective appointment of Feinberg as an effort to put pressure on intelligence agencies to close ranks with the White House.

After similar questions from Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has already promised to grill Rosenstein on what Trump told him when he said he wanted Comey fired.

"Well, I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes", Heinrich said.

The law, enshrined in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is due to expire on December 31 unless Congress votes to reauthorize it, but is considered vital by us intelligence agencies.

Information about Americans is also sometimes incidentally gathered, such as when someone is communicating with a foreign target, which privacy advocates have long argued evades constitutional protections against warrantless searches.

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