President Trump reportedly asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to intervene in former FBI Director James Comey’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of the bureau’s investigation of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
According to a report by The Washington Post Tuesday, Trump asked Coats about interfering in the FBI’s investigation less than a week after being confirmed by the Senate in March.
The Washington Post added:
“On March 22, less than a week after being confirmed by the Senate, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats attended a briefing at the White House together with officials from several government agencies. As the briefing was wrapping up, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
The president then started complaining about the FBI investigation and Comey’s handling of it, said officials familiar with the account Coats gave to associates. Two days earlier, Comey had confirmed in a congressional hearing that the bureau was probing whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 race.
After the encounter, Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.
The events involving Coats show the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to deny publicly the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the 2016 election, as The Washington Post reported in May. The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau’s probe.”
Trump abruptly fired Comey in May, citing his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump later said he was going to fire Comey regardless of the memo.
Coats will testify on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Comey will testify before the committee on Thursday.