Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told House investigators Thursday that President Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion, a U.S. official familiar with the conversation told NBC News.
Coats’ account is not new — it largely tracked with his story as previously reported by NBC News and other media outlets, the official said.
Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the NSA, has also told associates that Trump asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian election interference effort.
Both Rogers and Coats declined to do that, saying it would have been inappropriate, a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter told NBC News. Rogers had his deputy write a memo about the conversation.
NBC News has reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s requests of the two officials as part of an investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.
Coats and Rogers declined to answer questions about their conversations with the president when they appeared recently in an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee.
At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Coats and Rogers each said they had never felt pressured to do anything inappropriate. But they refused to confirm or deny allegations that Trump asked them to state publicly that they saw no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
"I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate," Rogers said at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, under questioning from Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat.
"I have never felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or intervene in an investigation," Coats said
A former senior intelligence official familiar with their accounts said both Coats and Rogers were trying to balance their service to the country and to the president with their desire not to be seen as in an way interfering in an ongoing FBI investigation.