By Zeke J Miller
June 7, 2017

The nation’s leading intelligence officials had few answers when testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning. Pressed on reports about pressure from President Trump, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and the ongoing investigation into Russia’s efforts to impact the 2016 presidential election, the officials all declined to comment. “I’m not going to discuss the specifics of conversations with the president of the United States,” NSA Director Mike Rogers said, his comments echoed by the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Deputy Attorney General. On the Russia investigation, they all stated that they couldn’t speak publicly while special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating. And McCabe even refused to comment on his conversations with Comey about the circumstances surrounding his firing.

The dearth of clarity and the lengths to which the officials went to avoid answering questions are only raising the stakes for Thursday’s scheduled testimony from Comey. Comey is expected to speak about his conversations with the Trump that lead to his firing, and refute the president’s suggestion that he was told he was not under investigation by the FBI. The White House and Trump allies are devising a strategy to try to discredit Comey, sticking with the President’s assertion that he was “showboating” in previous testimony on Capitol Hill.

The White House is refusing to say whether Trump still has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The limits of the president’s Twitter foreign policy. And Trump picks a new FBI director.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Comey Told Sessions: Don’t Leave Me Alone With Trump
Latest disclosure on eve of hearing [New York Times]

Top Intelligence Official Told Associates Trump Asked Him If He Could Intervene With Comey on FBI Russia Probe
DNI Coats is said to have declined [Washington Post]

Trump Sides With Mnuchin on Debt Ceiling Strategy
The president told GOP leaders at the White House that his Treasury secretary — not his budget director — is the point person on raising the debt limit [Politico]

GOP Senators’ Medicaid Clash Jeopardizes Health Deal
Phaseout of funding in House bill divides lawmakers in upper chamber [Wall Street Journal]

White House Looks for Ways to Undermine Comey’s Credibility
Ahead of testimony, pro-Trump group releases attack ad [Associated Press]

President Trump Says Isolating Qatar Could End Terrorism. He’s Wrong
TIME’s Karl Vick on the president’s Twitter foreign policy

The 27 Words Trump Wouldn’t Say
Here’s the commitment the president refused to deliver at NATO headquarters [Politico]

President Trump’s Big Infrastructure Pitch Faces Skepticism
Funding scheme is criticized [TIME]

Sound Off

“In the three-plus years that I have been director of the national security agency, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate and to the best of my recollection during that same period of service I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.” — NSA Director Mike Rogers to the Senate Intelligence Committee

“The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the president’s tweets

Bits and Bites

Trump pitched Republican leaders on a solar-paneled border wall [Axios]

President Trump Announces His Pick for FBI Director Is Christopher Wray [TIME]

Justice Dept. ending settlement payouts to outside groups [Associated Press]

Watergate ‘Pales’ in Comparison to Trump’s Russia Scandal, Former U.S. Spy Chief Says [Reuters]

House Votes to Condemn Turkish Security Officers’ Attack on Embassy Protesters [TIME]

Trump Counting Chickens Before They’re Hatched? [Bloomberg BNA]

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Revives Controversial ‘Bathroom Bill’ in Special Session [Associated Press]

Lindsey Graham: Trump Didn’t Collude With Russia. He Doesn’t Even Collude With His Own Staff [TIME]

President Trump Says Jared Kushner ‘Has Become More Famous’ Than Him. He Said the Same Thing About James Comey Before Firing Him [TIME]

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