Updated at 1:47 p.m. ET
In a series of at times tense exchanges on Wednesday, top U.S. intelligence officials repeatedly declined or evaded questions from lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee about their interactions with President Trump and whether the administration ever directed them to intervene in the ongoing federal Russia investigations.
Instead, senior administration officials offered up a blanket, albeit vague, defense of the administration. National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers insisted that he has “never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate,” and does not remember feeling “pressured to do so.” Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the panel that he has “never been pressured—I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” referring to his interactions with the president or other administration officials.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also testified during the hearing. Democratic lawmakers, as well as some Republicans, made it clear from the outset that Trump and the Russia probes would dominate much of their questioning—not the session’s original focus, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorizes the government to spy on U.S. citizens in select circumstances.