Trump tweets memo ‘totally vindicates’ him in Russia inquiry

President Donald Trump said Saturday that the memo released by the House Intelligence Committee the day before has vindicated him and proved that the special counsel’s Russia investigation is an “American disgrace.”

In a tweet posted Saturday morning, Trump continued his attacks against his own FBI and Justice Department for its investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” the president tweeted. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.”

Trump’s tweet appeared to support contentions made by Democrats like Rep. Adam Schiff of California that the memo’s release was merely a partisan attempt to undermine the Russia investigation.

On Saturday, Schiff responded to Trump’s tweet by claiming that — far from vindicating the president — the memo in fact proved “quite the opposite.”

“The most important fact disclosed in this otherwise shoddy memo was that FBI investigation began July 2016 with your adviser, Papadopoulous, who was secretly discussing stolen Clinton emails with the Russians,” tweeted Schiff, who is the ranking member on the committee.

On Friday, after more than a week of speculation and partisan infighting, the White House declassified a memo written by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and staffers.

FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials fought hard against the memo’s release, even issuing a rare statement claimingthat they had “grave concerns” about inaccuracies and misleading conclusions in the document.

In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Nunes said although he helped write the controversial memo, he had not read the FISA application under question.

Instead, as part of an agreement with DOJ officials, Nunes said one Democrat and one Republican were allowed to read the documents. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor, and Schiff were selected.

House Republicans have touted the memo as proof that the premise of the Russia investigation is flawed. The memo argues that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court about the basis for its application to eavesdrop on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The memo states that the decision to spy on Page was based on a dossier written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who Republicans claim had an overt anti-Trump bias.

But after analyzing the four-page document, many political analysts noted that the memo does not shed light on what role, if any, the dossier played in the special counsel’s inquiry. Others note that Page came under surveillance in October 2016, after the Russia investigation was well under way.

Trump continued to tweet about the Russia investigation Saturday evening. Trump touted what he called “great jobs numbers” and rising wages, but “nobody even talks about them.”

“Only Russia, Russia, Russia, despite the fact that, after a year of looking, there is No Collusion!” the president tweeted.

[NBC News]

Reality

The two congressmen who actually saw the classified evidence in the Nunes memo, Trey Gowdy and Adam Schiff, both say Trump is wrong.

Trump’s own FBI and DOJ both say the Nunes memo is factually inaccurate.

By no objective measure does this vindicate Trump of anything.

Trump asked Rosenstein about Russia probe, if he was on Trump’s ‘team’

President Trump reportedly asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he was on Trump’s “team” at a December meeting.

CNN reported that Rosenstein met with Trump in hopes of getting his support against House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who was seeking sensitive documents for his classified memo purporting to detail surveillance abuses by the government.

At the meeting, Trump reportedly asked Rosenstein about the direction of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and asked directly if Rosenstein was “on my team.”

Rosenstein replied, “of course, we’re all on your team, Mr. President,” according to CNN’s sources.

Trump has considered firing Rosenstein in recent weeks according to a recent CNN report, telling aides “let’s fire him.” Rosenstein is the top Justice Department official in charge of the Russia investigation.

[The Hill]

Sarah Sanders: Russia Investigation a ‘Hoax,’ But We Have ‘No Intention’ to Fire Mueller

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took some new shots at the Russia special counsel today, even as she insisted the Trump Administration doesn’t plan on firing Robert Mueller.

In an interview for America’s Newsroom, Sanders was asked by Bill Hemmer about recent questions surrounding Mueller’s probe. Sanders proceeded to dismiss the investigation as a “hoax” which shows that Democrats have no agenda beyond attacking and trying to undermine the president.

“For the 1,000th time, We have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller,” Sanders said. “We are continuing to work closely and cooperate with him. We look forward to seeing this hoax wrap up very soon.”

Hemmer followed up by asking about what Senator Rand Paul suggested earlier today about former Obama officials colluding to stop Trump from being president. Sanders responded with more jabs at Democrats and the “liberal media,” and responded that Ryan’s claims could be worth looking into.

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump on whether he’ll pardon Michael Flynn: ‘We’ll see’

President Donald Trump gave a cryptic answer to reporters on Friday when he was asked whether he will consider pardoning his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see,” Trump said. “I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”

Flynn’s recent guilty plea centered on false statements he made to investigators last January about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak during Trump’s transition to the presidency. Flynn is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s work has come under heightened scrutiny in recent days, after revelations that two FBI agents who worked on the investigation had exchanged text messages critical of Trump. One of the agents was immediately ousted from the investigation, and the other had already ended her assignment with Mueller’s team.

Trump has also spoken in defense of Flynn in recent weeks, complaining via Twitter that Flynn was treated unfairly by the DOJ in comparison to Trump’s former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her?” Trump wrote earlier in December. “Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

[Business Insider]

Media

Trump reverts to campaign-trail name-calling in Twitter rant calling for probe of DNC

President Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a five-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

Trump’s accusations follow publication by Politico of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.

Previous presidents have avoided even seeming to direct the Justice Department on whom to investigate — but not Trump.

Trump reverted to his campaign-trail name-calling of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), again referring to her as “Pocahontas.”

He also in one post called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “Crazy Bernie.” Trump has described this kind of rhetoric as “modern day presidential.”

Trump’s epic Twitter rant took place in the hours and minutes before he was set to depart the South Lawn via Marine One for his Air Force One flight to Hawaii to kick off his 12-day swing through Asia.

Implicit in the messages was more criticism of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, though Trump did not mention the nation’s top prosecutor by name.

Asked later Friday if he would fire the attorney general if he doesn’t investigate Trump’s Democratic political rivals, the president said, “I don’t know.”

Two White House officials quickly cautioned against reading too much into Trump’s comments, reiterating that he has no plans to fire Sessions. And although the White House maintains that Trump’s tweets are “official record,” it says Trump has not ordered Sessions or the FBI to do anything related to Democrats.

The aides said the tweets were a media savvy way to deflect attention from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

This week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, were indicted on 12 counts, and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his dealings with Russians who were offering “dirt” on Clinton.

[Los Angeles Times]

Trump: ‘The saddest thing’ is that I’m not supposed to influence the Justice Department and FBI

President Donald Trump lamented in a Thursday interview that he couldn’t exert more influence over the Justice Department and the FBI.

“The saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI,” Trump said on “The Larry O’Connor Show” less than a week after special counsel Robert Mueller handed down indictments to former members of his campaign including its former chairman, Paul Manafort.

Trump was responding to a comment from the host that his listeners wanted to see the Justice Department go after the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

“I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier?” Trump said, referring to the Democratic Party-funded dossier designed to find connections between Trump and Russia that has been both partially discredited and partially corroborated.

The president added that he was “very unhappy” with where the Justice Department “isn’t going.”

“I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing,” he said. “And I am very frustrated by it.”

Trump’s interactions with the Justice Department have come under scrutiny, particularly as they relate to his May firing of the FBI director, James Comey, which led to Mueller’s appointment. Comey was overseeing the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials in the 2016 presidential election, an investigation that is now folded into the special counsel’s Russia-related investigation.

Trump continued to lambaste the Justice Department in a series of Friday-morning tweets, saying “everybody is asking” why it was not investigating Clinton and the Democrats.

“At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper,” he tweeted. “The American public deserves it!”

Speaking with reporters outside the White House ahead of his lengthy trip to Asia, Trump said he was “really not involved” with the Justice Department, adding that he would “like to let it run itself.”

“But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats,” he said, adding, “A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”

[Business Insider]

Media

Trump Asked Sessions About Closing Case Against Arpaio

As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help the former Arizona county sheriff who had become a campaign-trail companion and a partner in their crusade against illegal immigration.

The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation.

After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency.

So the president waited, all the while planning to issue a pardon if Arpaio was found in contempt of court for defying a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people merely because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Trump was, in the words of one associate, “gung-ho about it.”

“We knew the president wanted to do this for some time now and had worked to prepare for whenever the moment may come,” said one White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the action.

Responding to questions about Trump’s conversation with Sessions, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “It’s only natural the president would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters. This case would be no different.”

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Trump’s Friday-evening decision to issue his first pardon for Arpaio was the culmination of a five-year political friendship with roots in the “birther” movement to undermine President Barack Obama. In an extraordinary exercise of presidential power, Trump bypassed the traditional review process to ensure that Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, would face no time in prison.

Trump’s pardon, issued without consulting the Justice Department, raised a storm of protest over the weekend, including from some fellow Republicans, and threatens to become a stain on the president’s legacy. His effort to see if the case could be dropped showed a troubling disregard for the traditional wall between the White House and the Justice Department, and taken together with similar actions could undermine respect for the rule of law, experts said.

Arpaio faced up to six months in prison and was due to be sentenced in October. During his 23 years as Maricopa County sheriff, Arpaio was a lightning rod, in part because of his aggressive crackdown on illegal immigrants. He also was accused of racial profiling, failure to investigate sex crimes, poor treatment of prisoners and other instances of police misconduct.

To Trump, however, Arpaio is an American hero — a man who enlisted in the military at 18 after the outbreak of the Korean War, worked as a beat cop in Washington and Las Vegas and as a special agent investigating drug crimes around the world, then was elected sheriff in the epicenter of the nation’s roiling immigration debate.

Arpaio’s age weighed on Trump, some of his confidants said. The 71-year-old president could not stomach seeing an 85-year-old he admired as a law-and-order icon wasting away in a jail cell.

Trump’s spring inquiry about intervening in Arpaio’s case is consistent with his alleged attempts to influence the federal investigation of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser. Trump also made separate appeals in March to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio “was his backhand way of doing what he wanted to do at the front end,” said Robert Bauer, a former White House counsel in the Obama administration. “He just wanted to kill the prosecution off. He couldn’t do it the one way, so he ended up doing it the other way. This is just another vivid demonstration of how far removed from an appropriate exercise of the pardon power this was.”

Presidents can set law enforcement priorities, but they are expected to steer clear of involvement in specific cases to avoid the perception of politicizing the impartial administration of justice.

Trump backed off the Arpaio case after being advised it would be inappropriate, but that he even tried is “beyond the pale,” said Chiraag Bains, a former senior counsel in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Bains said he believes Trump “has a sense that the chief executive controls everything in the executive branch, including the exercise of criminal power. And that is just not the way the system is set up.”​

Trump and Arpaio became brothers in arms five years ago. As they saw it, the two provocateurs — one a celebrity real estate developer, the other a polarizing sheriff — were pursuing justice in the form of supposed evidence that Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent.

As caretakers of the false “birther” conspiracy, Trump and Arpaio relentlessly probed Obama’s birth in Hawaii and nurtured a lie to damage the legitimacy of the nation’s first African American president.

“There was no collusion,” Arpaio said in an interview Saturday. “I started my birth certificate investigation around the same time he did his.”

The Manhattan mogul sent Arpaio a fan letter and flattered him on social media. “Congratulations to @RealSheriffJoe on his successful Cold Case Posse investigation which claims @BarackObama’s ‘birth certificate’ is fake,” Trump tweeted in 2012.

Three years later, in July 2015, when Trump swooped into Arpaio’s hometown of Phoenix for the first mega-rally of his upstart presidential campaign, the sheriff returned the favor by testifying on stage to “the silent majority” that Trump had begun to awaken.

Backstage at that rally, Arpaio recalled, the two men talked about their shared birthday — June 14, which is Flag Day. Their friendship blossomed and Arpaio became a fan favorite at Trump rallies. “I had a gut feeling that he was going to win,” Arpaio said.

Even as Trump went on to win last November, however, Arpaio lost his reelection — and that was the least of his troubles.

Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Arpaio last October. Trump was paying attention to the case and he called Arpaio to check in on him around Thanksgiving, according to the former sheriff. That’s when Arpaio told the president-elect that his wife, Ava, had cancer.

On July 31, Arpaio was convicted by a judge, as opposed to a jury. Arpaio and his lawyer, Mark Goldman, said they did not contact Trump during this period, nor ask anyone in the administration for a pardon.

“I didn’t ask for the pardon,” Arpaio said. “He wanted to do it because I think he understood what I was going through.”

Inside the West Wing, the pardon process was set in motion. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who had gotten to know Arpaio through their work on immigration policy during the campaign, advocated internally for the pardon, as did chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

The White House Counsel’s Office had quietly begun preparing the paperwork and communications staffers had started drawing up talking points when Trump foreshadowed his intentions Aug. 15 by retweeting a Fox News story reporting that the president was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio.

Around the same time, Arpaio received a call from the White House Counsel’s Office asking whether he would accept a pardon if one were issued. He told the presidential lawyer that he would, according to Goldman.

The drumbeat culminated Tuesday when Trump returned to the Phoenix Convention Center — the site of the July 2015 rally — for a “Make America Great Again” campaign event.

As Air Force One rumbled toward Arizona, Sanders tried to douse speculation by telling reporters that the president would have “no discussion” and “no action” pertaining to Arpaio at the rally.

Arpaio said he was eager to attend the rally and visit with the president backstage, but decided, “I didn’t want to cause any harm or riots, so I stayed away, which really hurt me.”

When Arpaio heard Sanders say Trump would not talk about a pardon, he said he turned to his wife and told her, “Don’t believe anything you hear because I know how he is.”

Sure enough, Trump bellowed from the stage, “I’m just curious: Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?”

The crowd burst into applause.

“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked.

More applause.

“He should have had a jury, but you know what? I’ll make a prediction,” the president said. “I won’t do it tonight, because I don’t want to cause any controversy. . . But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”

Arpaio and his legal team did not feel very good the next night, when they read a CBS News report that Trump was being advised not to pardon Arpaio until after his sentencing.

Goldman wrote a two-page letter to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II, sent on Friday morning, saying, “Hopefully this is more fake news,” and telling McGahn that a delay until after sentencing “would place Sheriff Arpaio in an untenable and unprecedented position.”

Without a pardon, Goldman said, Arpaio could be “sentenced, handcuffed, given a ‘perp walk’ and incarcerated” and “left to languish in federal custody.”

McGahn did not immediately reply, but a few hours later, at about 6:30 p.m. D.C. time, another lawyer in his office called Goldman’s co-counsel to double-check that Arpaio would accept a pardon. A few minutes later, an email arrived from the White House with a single page attachment: an “Executive Grant of Clemency” for Arpaio signed by Trump in his thick, black script, complete with a golden Justice Department seal.

Goldman printed out three copies of the document and drove out to Arpaio’s home in Fountain Hills, a suburb of Phoenix, where the former sheriff was getting ready to take his wife to dinner at Arrivederci, an Italian restaurant, to celebrate Ava’s 86th birthday.

“Of course, his first question was, ‘Is this a fake document?’ ” Goldman recalled. “We know the sheriff has looked into fake documents.”

The Arpaios still went out for their spaghetti dinner. As of Saturday, Arpaio had not heard from Trump personally, but said if the president were to call he would advise him to take a lesson from his Arizona adventures.

“If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody, including the president of the United States,” Arpaio said. Alluding to the Russia probe, he said, “He’s been under a lot of fire right now, him and his family, and I’ve been through the fire quite a while.”

[Washington Post]

Trump Dictated Son’s Misleading Statement on Meeting with Russian Lawyer

President Trump reportedly dictated a misleading statement about his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer that was ultimately issued to the New York Times by Donald Trump Jr., The Washington Post reported Monday evening.

Trump dictated the statement on July 8, while he was en route back to the United States from the G-20 summit in Germany, to director of strategic communications Hope Hicks, the Post said.

The statement about a meeting Trump Jr. had with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign emphasized that it was “not a campaign issue at the time.” Instead, it said the topic had been primarily Russian adoption policy.

But a few days later, news broke that Trump Jr. arranged the meeting believing he would obtain harmful information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The New York Times first disclosed details of the meeting that took place in July 2016, and also included Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

According to the report, Ivanka Trump and Kushner, her husband, worked with advisors during breaks at the G-20 summit to craft a response to questions from the Times. Hicks and another aide pushed transparency, The Post said.

But the president reportedly overruled the consensus his advisors had reached on how to respond to inquires about the meeting.

Trump Jr. did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment Monday, while his attorney said he and his client “were fully prepared and absolutely prepared to make a fulsome statement” about the details surrounding the meeting.

His lawyer also said he has “no evidence to support” the “theory” that Trump was involved in writing the statement.

The president’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, refused to speak about details regarding Trump’s involvement with the statement.

“Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent,” Sekulow said in his statement to The Post.

[The Hill]

Trump Warns Mueller Against Investigating His Family’s Finances Beyond Russia Probe

President Trump warned special counsel Robert Mueller from investigating his family’s finances beyond the scope of the probe into ties between his administration and Russia in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.

“I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump told The Times.

Trump during the interview said he wasn’t ruling out firing Mueller as special counsel on the Russia probe.

He did not say that he would order the Justice Department to fire Mueller or under what circumstances he would fire him, but he indicated Mueller investigating his family’s finances would cross a line.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

Trump also noted he previously interviewed Mueller to replace Comey as FBI director shortly before he was named special counsel.

Trump also said Mueller’s office had several conflicts of interest, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump said Rosenstein was playing both sides in Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey by recommending the firing but then appointing Mueller as special counsel.

“Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

Trump fired Comey as head of the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, as well as alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Reports emerged last month that Trump was considering firing Mueller, drawing criticism from both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. The White House pushed back against those reports, saying Trump had “no intention” of firing the special counsel.

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump set a red-line at investigating his family’s finances, and Mueller has reportedly crossed it in response.

Nothing tells an investigator you have something to hide like telling them you have nothing to hide and and you’ll fire them if they try and look.

Intel Chiefs Tell Investigators Trump Suggested They Refute Collusion with Russians

Two of the nation’s top intelligence officials told Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and Senate investigators, in separate meetings last week, that President Donald Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, according to multiple sources.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers described their interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but said they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere, according to multiple sources familiar with their accounts.

Sources say both men went further than they did in June 7 public hearings, when they provided little detail about the interactions.

The sources gave CNN the first glimpse of what the intelligence chiefs said to Mueller’s investigators when they did separate interviews last week. Both men told Mueller’s team they were surprised the President would suggest that they publicly declare he was not involved in collusion, sources said. Mueller’s team, which is in the early stages of its investigation, will ultimately decide whether the interactions are relevant to the inquiry.

Coats and Rogers also met individually last week with the Senate intelligence committee in two closed briefings that were described to CNN by Democratic and Republican congressional sources. One source said that Trump wanted them to say publicly what then-FBI Director James Comey had told the President privately: that he was not under investigation for collusion. However, sources said that neither Coats nor Rogers raised concerns that Trump was pushing them to do something they did not want to do. They did not act on the President’s alleged suggestion.

Trump has said repeatedly that no collusion occurred. “After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my ‘collusion with the Russians,’ nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!” he tweeted June 16. The White House did not comment for this story. The DNI, NSA and Mueller’s office also did not comment.

Because the meetings were classified, sources shared limited details. But they said the two intelligence leaders recounted conversations that appeared to show the President’s deep frustration that the Russia allegations have continued to cloud his administration. The question of what the President said to Coats and Rogers has been hanging over the administration since The Washington Post reported the interactions in late May.

CNN has confirmed the March interactions between the intelligence chiefs and the President in which he made the requests. These came a few days after Comey publicly confirmed for the first time the existence of the federal investigation of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In a public Senate intelligence hearing earlier this month in which both men testified, senators in both parties grew frustrated and angry after neither would agree to clear up exactly what the President said to them. Rogers and Coats said they did not feel pressured to do anything but would not describe any details of their conversations with Trump.

“In the three-plus years that 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,” Rogers said during the public hearing.

Coats offered a similar response. “In my time of service, which is interacting with the President of the United States or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressured — I have never felt pressured — to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” he said.

The reason for their public reticence, one congressional source told CNN, is that Coats and Rogers had asked the White House for guidance on whether their conversations with the President were protected by executive privilege, which meant they would not be allowed to discuss it. They did not get an answer from the White House before testifying and did not know how to answer the committee. The result was an awkward and contentious public hearing.

In classified follow-up meetings with the Senate intelligence committee, they were more forthcoming, according to sources familiar with the closed-door session.

One congressional source expressed frustration that Coats and Rogers didn’t answer the questions in public, especially since what they ended up expressing in private was that they did not feel that the President pressured either of them to do anything improper.

Rogers’ interaction with the President is also documented in a memo written by his deputy at the NSA, Richard Ledgett.

One congressional source who has seen the memo tells CNN that it is one page and, unlike memos written by former FBI Director James Comey, does not have many details of the conversation. Instead, it simply documents that the interaction occurred — and makes clear that Rogers thought it was out of the ordinary.

Coats did not document his conversations with the President about the issue, the source said.

[CNN]

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