Heinrich to Coats: ‘I Don’t Care How You Felt,’ Did Trump Ask You to Push Back on Russia Investigation?

• June 7, 2017 12:34 pm


Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had a testy exchange Wednesday over Coats' answer about private conversations with President Donald Trump.

Heinrich, like other lawmakers, brought up a Washington Post report that Trump asked Coats to push back against the federal Russia probe.

"I don't care how you felt. I'm not asking whether you felt pressured," Heinrich said. "I'm simply asking, did that conversation occur?"

Coats repeated an earlier answer that he felt it was an inappropriate setting to discuss the conversation. Heinrich said it would be simple for Coats to just deny it occurred.

"Why is it inappropriate, Director Coats?" Heinrich asked.

"I think conversations between the president and myself are, for the most part—" he started.

Heinrich said Coats applied that standard "selectively," but the intelligence chief insisted he would not share with the public conversations he had with the president.

Heinrich said Coats' unwillingness to answer "speaks volumes."

Heinrich and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also had a sharp exchange at the hearing over conversations former FBI Director James Comey had with Trump.

Asked about the report that Trump asked Comey for his "loyalty," McCabe said he would not discuss such conversations and reminded Heinrich that Comey would testify on Thursday before the same committee.

"I'm asking you, did you have that conversation with Director Comey?" Heinrich asked.

McCabe repeated he would not comment on the conversation he'd had with Comey or about ones Comey may have had with Trump, to Heinrich's seeming consternation.

"This is the oversight committee. Why would it not be appropriate for you to share that conversation with us?" Heinrich asked.

"I think I'll let Director Comey speak for himself tomorrow in front of this committee," McCabe said.

"We certainly look forward to that, but I think your unwillingness to share that conversation is an issue," Heinrich said.