In yet another late-day bombshell from the mainstream media via anonymous sourcing, The Washington Post reported that President Trump directly asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency head Admiral Mike Rogers to “publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” The request reportedly came after FBI director James Comey testified before Congress that the FBI “was investigating ‘the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s effort.”
Coats and Rogers both refused the president’s request, according to the “current and former officials.” The officials said that Coats and Rogers “both deemed [the requests] to be inappropriate.” This raises the question as to why they didn’t resign or make public Trump’s requests, the same way we still have no answers as to why Comey didn’t resign after Trump supposedly asked him if he could drop the investigation into fired National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.
It is also worth noting that buried deep in The Washington Post story is this more detailed recollection of the conversation with Rogers:
In his call with Rogers, Trump urged the NSA director to speak out publicly if there was no evidence of collusion, according to officials briefed on the exchange.
If there was no evidence of collusion – in other words, it’s quite possible that Trump was asking Rogers to speak honestly about the situation, not ordering him to lie. That seems like a details that should have been elevated in the story.
The Washington Post continues:
Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials….Current and former senior intelligence officials viewed Trump’s requests as an attempt by the president to tarnish the credibility of the agency leading the Russia investigation. A senior intelligence official said Trump’s goal was to “muddy the waters” about the scope of the FBI probe at a time when Democrats were ramping up their calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, a step announced last week…. “The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,” a former senior intelligence official said of the request to Coats.
In other words, a bunch of unnamed sources are once again spilling details about an undisclosed memo that has yet to be discussed by any of the principles, and The Washington Post is quoting more anonymous officials to give their opinions about these developments.
The White House, NSA, and a spokesperson for Coats all refused comment. The White House stated, “The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals.” That’s a reasonable standard, but it’s not an outright denial, of course.
The Washington Post also reports:
In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials said the White House appeared uncertain about its power to influence the FBI. “Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?” one official said of the line of questioning from the White House.