DNI Director Coates Won’t Say If Trump Asked Him to Publicly Deny Any Collusion

By Susan Jones | May 23, 2017 | 10:24am EDT
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coates testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

(CNSNews.com) – “I don’t feel it’s appropriate to characterize conversations with the president,” Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coates told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Coates was called before the committee to discuss worldwide threats, but the first question – from Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- dealt with the latest leak to the Washington Post intended to undermine the Trump presidency.

According to Tuesday's Washington Post, President Trump in March asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials -- Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers – to publicly deny any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 election.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Coates said he is “fortunate” to spend a significant amount of time with the president discussing national security interests and intelligence:

“We discuss a number of topics on a very regular basis. I have always believed that, given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it’s not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that.

“So on this topic as well as other topics, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to characterize conversations with the president.

According to the Post report, “Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.”

Trump reportedly asked Coates and Rogers to deny any evidence of collusion after then-FBI Director James Comey told the House intelligence committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Sen. McCain also asked Coates about the recent spate of leaks to newspapers:

“Leaks have become a very significant -- played a very significant, negative role relative to our national security," Coates responded.

"The release of information not only undermines confidence in our allies but our ability to maintain secure information that we share with them. It jeopardizes sources and methods that are invaluable to our ability to find out what’s going on and what those threats are. Lives are at stake in many instances, and leaks jeopardize those lives."

MRC Store