Wednesday during questioning at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ranking Democrat Sen. Mark Warner (VA) questioned NSA Director Mike Rogers about the possibility he was asked to downplay or intervene in an FBI investigation by President Donald Trump.
Rogers refused to talk about “theoreticals” and told Warner he had not been asked to do anything he believed was “illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”
Partial transcript as follows:
WARNER: We all know now that in March, then-director Comey testified about the existence of an ongoing FBI investigation into links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. There are reports out in the press that the president privately appealed you, Admiral Rogers, and to you, Director Coats, to downplay the Russia investigation.
Now we’ve got additional reports, and we want to give you a chance to confirm or deny these, that the president separately addressed you, Director Coats, and asked you to, in effect, intervene with Director Comey, again, to downplay the FBI investigation.
Admiral Rogers, you draw the short straw. I’m going to start with you. Before we get to the substance of whether this call or request was made, you’ve had a very distinguished career, close to 40 years. In your experience, would it be in any way typical for a president to ask questions or bring up an ongoing FBI investigation, particularly if that investigation concerns associates and individuals that might be associated with the president’s campaign or his activities?
ROGERS: Today, I am not going to talk about theoreticals. I am not going to discuss the specifics of any interaction or conversation I may or —
WARNER: Can you –
ROGERS: Can I, could I finish, please.
ROGERS: — may not have had with the president of the United States.
I will make the following comment. In the three-plus years, I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my recollection, during that same period of service, I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.
WARNER: But have — in your course prior to the incident that we’re going to discuss, was it in any regular course where a president would ask you to comment or intervene in any ongoing FBI investigation? Not talking about this circumstance but any prior experience with that?
ROGERS: I’m not going to talk about theoreticals today.
WARNER: Let me ask you did the president, the reports that are out there, ask you in any way, shape or form, to back off or downplay the Russia investigation?
ROGERS: I’m not going to discuss the specifics of conversation with the president of the United States, but I stand by the comment I just made to you, sir.
WARNER: Do you feel that those conversations were classified? We know that there was an ongoing FBI investigation.
ROGERS: Yes, sir.
WARNER: From the press reports.
ROGERS: Yes, sir.
WARNER: I understand your answer. I’m disappointed with that answer, but I — and I told you I was going to bring this up.
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