Top officials won't say whether they kept notes on Trump-Russia discussions

The newspaper reported on Tuesday that Coats, a Trump appointee, told associates in March that the president asked him if he could intervene with then FBI director James Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, in its Russian Federation probe.

According to newspaper reports that Comey has not disputed, in three conversations with Trump in January and February, he was asked to pull back on the investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russian officials before and after the November 8 presidential election.

Coats, who was testifying before the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday morning, denied he felt pressured when asked about the Post report.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats discussed a Washington Post story about Coats's conversations with President Trump, during a hearing on June 7 at the Capitol.

"I've never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape - with shaping intelligence in a political way, or in relationship to an ongoing investigation".

At the often contentious hearing, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, was the first to press the question. "I do not recall feeling pressured to do so".

"I understand your answer".

King demanded to know why they won't directly answer the questions about their conversations with the President of the United States.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who took over after Comey was sacked, will also be at the hearing.

However, neither would discuss their conversations with Trump, and declined to say if he asked them to take any action regarding the investigations.

That may come as a relief to a White House that has been buffeted by a seemingly never-ending stream of controversial revelations, from allegations that the president attempted to influence the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to reports of internal divisions within the administration.

"I'm not sure I have a legal basis", Coats admitted.

Rogers told him, "I'm not interested in repeating myself, sir".

Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the committee, asked Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe if Comey had told him Trump asked for his loyalty.

The panel also questioned Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who testified publicly for the first time since Comey was sacked.

Mr Comey believed the attorney general should protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation from White House influence, officials told the paper.

The hearing was highly anticipated because stories about the Russian Federation investigation have emerged piecemeal, often based on anonymous sources.

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.

The White House has been trying to grow a serious investigation into leaks and appeared to score a victory over the weekend when news emerged that 25-year-old NSA contractor, Reality Winner, had been arrested for alleged leaking an NSA report detailing Kremlin efforts to hack voting machines during last year's election.

"The president said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed", Comey said.