Rogers refused to say whether the president had ever asked him to intervene in the FBI investigation into Trump's associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn. That story lines up with a May 16 New York Times report that, according to a memo Comey wrote before Trump fired him, Trump had asked Comey to "shut down" the Flynn investigation.
The US director of national intelligence has said he "never felt pressured" to influence the inquiry into Russia's political meddling. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) expressed disbelief at how Coats and Rogers refused to answer a question that did not involve classified information.
"It's your position that the special counsel's entitled to ask you questions about this but not an oversight committee of the United States Congress", King said to McCabe. "What you feel isn't the answer". Is it an invocation of executive privilege. "Is there or not?"
Rogers: "I stand by the comments that I've made". When asked if he knew that was the case, he responded with answers that did not directly address the question.
"What I want to find out is, we've had press reports as recently as yesterday that maybe even a few times the President tried to intervene with Director Coats to ask him to either down play or dismiss the FBI investigation into contacts between trump officials", Warner told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day" previewing his testimony. "What you feel isn't the answer". As the briefing was wrapping up, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. If there is, then let's know about it. They didn't answer other questions.
Rogers refused to expand, standing by his initial comments in the hearing.
"We'll just have to see where the facts lead", said King, who stopped short of calling Comey's testimony a case for obstruction of justice charges against the president. Susan Collins joined her Democratic colleagues taking issue with the lack of answers from Coats and Rogers.
Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to publicly discuss conversations he has had with the president.
But Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, pressed both of them if Trump had simply "asked" them to rebut Russian Federation stories - they refused to answer.
At the often contentious hearing, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, was the first to press the question.
For a short moment it appeared the hearing may stay focused on foreign surveillance (Coat's 18-minute opening statement on the topic put one audience member to sleep.) But it quickly shifted to an intense examination of the Trump White House's handling of the Russian Federation probe. "I'm not satisfied with "I do not believe it is appropriate" or 'I do not want to answer.' I want to understand the legal basis".
Comey is scheduled to testify before the committee on Thursday morning, and his prepared statement was posted on the committee's website.
"I'm not sure I have a legal basis", Coats admitted. Although today's testimony was largely a dud, Mr Comey - no longer a government employee, thanks to Mr Trump - will have more leeway to discuss his interactions with the president if he so chooses.
However, Mr. Warner used his opening remarks to immediately address the Russian Federation issue and Democratic arguments that Mr. Trump tried to shut down the probe.