Sen. Marco Rubio and the two star witnesses at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing had a pretty testy exchange this morning about reports that President Trump asked Director of National Security Dan Coats and others in the intelligence community to interfere in the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. Here it is:
It’s notable not only because of the content but also because Rubio was the first Republican to ask questions related to the Russia investigation.
You can watch the video above, but here’s the exchange:
RUBIO: Has anyone ever asked you, now or in the past, this administration or any administration, to issue a statement that you knew to be false?
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DIRECTOR ADM. MICHAEL ROGERS: For me, I stand by my previous statement. I’ve never been directed to do anything in the course of my three-plus years as the director of the National Security Agency —
RUBIO: Not directed. Asked.
ROGERS: — that I felt to be inappropriate, nor have I felt pressured to do so.
RUBIO: Have you ever been asked to say something that isn’t true?
ROGERS: I stand by my previous statement, sir.
RUBIO: Director Coats?
COATS: I do likewise. [Coats had previously said he wouldn’t answer investigation-related questions in a public forum.]
RUBIO: Well, let me ask this of everyone on this panel: Is anyone aware of any effort, by anyone, in the White House, or elsewhere, to seek advice on how to influence any investigation?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROD ROSENSTEIN: My answer is absolutely no, Senator.
RUBIO: No one has anything to add to that?
ROGERS: I don’t understand the question.
RUBIO: The question is: Are you aware of any efforts, by anyone in the White House, or the executive branch, looking for advice from other members of the intelligence community about how to potentially influence an investigation?
ROGERS: If you’re talking about me, no.
RUBIO: Okay. Uh — who wants to answer, I’m sorry.
ACTING FBI DIRECTOR ANDREW MCCABE: I — I’m not sure I understand the question. But if you’re asking whether we — I’m aware of requests to other people in the intelligence community, I am not.
RUBIO: On seeking advice on how it could potentially influence someone? You’re not aware of anyone ever saying or reporting that to you?
MCCABE: No, sir.
RUBIO: Has anyone ever come forward and said, “I just got a call from someone at the White House, asking me what is the best way to influence someone on an investigation”?
COATS: I’ve never received anything like that.
ROGERS: I have no direct knowledge of such a call.
RUBIO: It was an allegation in one of the press reports, and that’s why I asked.