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Polls Open in Britain for Snap Election; Rain in U.K. As Voters Head to Polls; Comey Testimony Released Before Thursday's Hearing; North Korea Fired 4 Anti-Ship Missiles; Trump Offers to Mediate Persian Gulf Dispute; Intel Chiefs Won't Say if Trump Spoke of Russia Probe; Iran Blames Saudi Arabia for Tehran Terror Attack. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 8, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is the CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. You're in the third hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

Finally here, like Christmas, Election Day in the UK. Voters are now choosing a new prime minister. Polls opened just moments ago.

Let's head now to Nina dos Santos in London.

Nina, we're in the "Twilight Zone" now. There are some pretty tough rules come into play on what we can and cannot report. There's a lot more that we cannot, right?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We have to be very careful about what we say here. At the moment, there is no possibility of talking about polls. All of that is said and done. The campaigns have been fought and, boy, have they been fought toughly over the last eight weeks of this snap election. So now really the objective is to focus on voter turnout as well.

I'm outside one of these polling stations in north London, one of 40,000, John, and it's just as the doors open across the United Kingdom. Some 47 million people across the country eligible to vote in this general election. That means registration is slightly higher than it was two years ago, when people last went to the polls 2015. Also, turnout will be key as an indicator of voter fatigue as well. Remember that we had a general election only two years ago. We had the Brexit vote, we had various referenda on other issues, like Scottish independent and so on. So a lot of voters saying going into this election that they are feeling exhausted about being consulted on this country's political future. As you'd imagine, with Brexit on the cards, while they'll have to talk about these big issues from now to kingdom come probably.

When it comes to the voter turnout for the youth population, that's crucial. We've see in the runup to this election is a big effort to try to mobilize 18 to 24 year olds. More than one million have signed up for this election. In the last day of registration at the end of May, more than 250,000 alone decided to put their names down.

The big question is will they actually turn out to vote. When it comes to the national average, last time Britains went to the polls, about two-thirds of the eligible population decided to turn out and vote. When it comes to 18 to 24 year olds, many voting for the first time, well, the average turnout last time was only about 43 percent.

In cities like these, throughout the course of the day, people will be looking into it, of course, before the polls close at 10:00 and that's when we'll get the exit polls and the counting begins for those 650 seats up for grabs in the house of parliament, including this one here in north London -- John?

VAUSE: OK, so polls close about 10:00 p.m. So when can we expect the first results?

DOS SANTOS: usually, exit polls come out about 10:15 and voting continues apace from them. I remember covering the 2015 general election. It didn't become clear exactly how the political landscape was going to fall. 2015 was a slight upset because the Conservative Party did manage to get the majority in that 2015 election, complete surprise. Usually things don't become clear until the early hours of the morning. The reality is that, at the moment, voting all finished at 10:00, and then from then, there will be exit polls and the counting will begin. Maybe throughout the course of the early hours of the morning people get a clearer picture -- John?

VAUSE: There has been a lot of voting, hasn't there. When you put it that way, there was the referendum, the Brexit, the election. Oh, my goodness.

OK, Nina, thank you. Try to say dry. It looks awful there.

It is a rainy day across the United Kingdom. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar with us now with the Election Day forecast.

I guess if you're heading out, grab an umbrella, grab a raincoat?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, and it doesn't matter where. Mother Nature is not being picky and choosey about particular area of the UK were rain will be. That looks pretty widespread.

Here's a look at the overall general picture. Again, when you look, we have this particular low that will bring in wind and also heavy rain at times. Some areas will start to rain a little earlier than others. The farther west you are, you'll see your rain arrive a little on the earlier side.

Here's radar for the last 24 hours. You can see already rain showers starting to trickle into places like Dublin, around Liverpool, Manchester, around Leeds, and even now starting to push into portions of Glasgow. At the time, incredibly light.

Here's a look at the forecast as we go through the day today. Gradually as we make our way into the afternoon and evening hours, the system will spread a little further east and also off to the north as well.

[02:05:13] Overall rain total, this isn't necessarily going to produce torrential downpours. It's mainly going to be a very light but steady rain for a lot of the areas. Your overall totals likely to be about 10 to 25 millimeters tops. Will be some possible areas that pick up as much as 50 millimeters. But overall, the bigger issue is the wind. We're talking 48 to 50 kilometers per hour winds. Mix in some thunderstorms and the potential for some hail. So London, Birmingham, Manchester, really all of these locations, John, are going to get rain. It's just a matter of what the best times to head out when you're going to get the least amount of rain.

VAUSE: That's always been the case across the U.K., isn't it?


VAUSE: When I head out, that's when it rains the most.

Allison, good to see you. Thank you.

CHINCHAR: Thank you.

VAUSE: CNN special election coverage starts at 10:00 p.m. London time. That's when the polls are closing. So please join us for all of the results.

The former FBI director's Senate testimony just hours away now. James Comey has not spoken publicly since President Donald Trump fired him last month but he has released his opening remarks.

Jim Sciutto has details of the seven-page statement on Comey's conversations with U.S. president.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the crucial question of whether the president attempted to influence ongoing FBI investigations, Comey said the president told him quote, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." Comey makes clear, quote, "I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador."

In his letter firing the FBI director, the president said that Comey had told him three times that he himself was not under investigation. He repeated that claim in an interview with NBC.


LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey. You write, "I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation." Why did you put that in there? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he told me that. I mean, he told me.


SCIUTTO: In his written testimony, Comey largely confirms those occasions, but said they were specifically about whether the president was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.

First, on January 6th, when Comey went to Trump Tower to brief the President-elect on a dossier of allegations involving Mr. Trump, first reported by CNN, Comey said, quote, "During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him indirectly asking the question, I offered that assurance that he was not under FBI counterintelligence probe. The second time, at dinner on January 27th, Comey said the president told him he was considering ordering an investigation into the dossier. Comey says, quote, "I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't." And in a March 30th phone call, Comey, quote, "Explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. "I reminded him I previously told him that. He repeatedly told me we need to get that fact out."

"The dossier, in particular, attracted the president's attention. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to lift the cloud."

The president, Comey says, was also very interested in establishing his loyalty. In their January 27th dinner, Comey said President Trump told him, quote, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." Comey went on, "I did not move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed." He said he told Trump, finally, quote, "You will always get honesty from me, to which the president responded, that is what I want honest loyalty."

(on camera): On the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russia, Comey directly contradicts the president. On May 18th, the president was asked in a press conference if he, in any way, shape or form, tried to interfere or tell Comey to lay off the investigation into Flynn, he said no twice and then next question. In his written testimony and again tomorrow, Comey lays out a very detailed case, saying the opposite.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: For more now on the legal issues facing the president, Seth Abramson is with us. He's an attorney and professor at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.

Seth, good to have you with us. The big unanswered question from this written testimony from Comey, does any of this build a case for obstruction of justice. Those who say know, they argue the president's actions may have been inappropriate, they weren't criminal, and they say he never explicitly ordered Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn.

[02:10:10] SETH ABRAMSON, ATTORNEY & PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, MANCHESTER: It does make that case. The facts we have from Mr. Comey with his letter to Congress, his opening statement that he'll give tomorrow is a prima facie case, a case on its face, of a violation of obstruction of justice statute, 18 USC 1512, by President Trump. With the obstruction of justice statute, what matters are words and the context in which they're said, not how they make people feel or even the effect of the words.

VAUSE: You mentioned the law here. It is pretty clear, someone is guilty if they corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct or impede an active investigation. So explain to me where is the wiggle room and where is the room for interpretation?

ABRAMSON: I don't think there is any actual wiggle room. The words were very clear that Mr. Trump indicated to Mr. Comey that he wanted him to let Mr. Flynn go, to drop that prosecution. The context was also very clear. Mr. Trump had order everyone out of the room, including the Attorney General, including Mr. Kushner. And we have to take into account that the event didn't just occur that day, but occurred later on. For instance, Mr. Trump what he said to the Russians about why he fired Mr. Comey, which was he told the Russians, Mr. Kislyak, that he fired Mr. Comey in order to ease the pressure on him from the Russia investigation.

VAUSE: It there enough in his written testimony to answer the question why Comey didn't speak out before he was fired if he felt he was being pressured by the president?

ABRAMSON: He did speak out. He talked to his boss, he went to Attorney General Sessions, as he indicates in the letter. He specifically said to Mr. Sessions, in fact, he uses the word "implore," he implored Mr. Sessions to make sure that he never be alone again with Mr. Trump. I think the question is now why Attorney General Sessions was not recused at that point, didn't do anything about that extraordinary request from the FBI director.

VAUSE: Just are we witnessing one of the big issues here, the fact that Trump fired Comey because he was not happy with the progress of the Russia investigation, isn't that a more significant factor more than the question of obstruction of justice?

ABRAMSON: The obstruction of justice statute is implicated with respect to the prosecution for making false statements or the perspective prosecution for making false statements against General Flynn. It has nothing to do with the Russia investigation as a whole. It specifically has to do with whether Mr. Trump attempted to, through perhaps persuasion, obstruct that particular prosecution. So the two shouldn't be conflated, though obviously the prosecution or prospective prosecution of Mr. Flynn is part of the larger Russia inquiry.

VAUSE: OK, Seth, thanks for being with us. We appreciate the explanation. Seth Abramson there. Thank you.

A lot of politics in all of this. So joining me now, Democratic strategist, Matt Littman; and James Lacy, the author of "Taxifornia." He's also a Trump supporter.

Good to have you back, James. It's been a while.

So let's start with you.

And the reaction that we have from the White House. Donald Trump's personal lawyer released a short statement saying, "The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russia probe. The president feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."

That does seem to ignore the fact that the FBI director will appear in person before the Senate in just a few hours' time.

JAMES LACY, AUTHOR & TRUMP SUPPORTER: The Republican National Committee issued a similar statement. I think that it actually is a win for Donald Trump because we have a situation where a president must have been very frustrated to believe that there was an ongoing investigation, at least from reading the "Washington Post" or "The New York Times." The implication was that he was some sort of a target or a figure in an investigation. And he was being told over a period of months, three times by the FBI director, that he was not a target of the investigation. He wanted to get the information out. And I can I can see how this frustration would build.

You know, there are other issues to be discussed in the United States today. We need tax reform. We need to fix health care. These are other issues that Trump wanted to move forward with, but felt that he was under a cloud. So I actually think it is a good thing because it has corroborated the fact that he is not under investigation.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First, it does not corroborate the fact that he is not under investigation. Comey has not been there for little while. We do have a special counsel looking into this. Trump could very well be under investigation. The special counsel is obviously there to do something.

Going back to the point about Trump feeling vindicated, Trump has nothing on his calendar until noon tomorrow. The other day, Sean Spicer said how busy Trump would be busy. It turns out he's not that busy at all. So we can expect to be hearing from Trump during the entire time of Comey's testimony tomorrow. If he already felt vindicated, why would he be tweeting tomorrow morning, which I think we can fully expect.

LACY: Matt, when I was in the Reagan administration, I testified before Congress many times, giving updates on the work I was doing. I have to say that if I was going to mention someone at a congressional hearing, I would think that that person would be wanting to watch what I had to say on the television. If you were the subject of an investigation and you were going to be discussed at a congressional hearing, wouldn't you be watching --


[02:15:15] LITTMAN: It's funny you say that because Sean Spicer said that Trump would be too busy tomorrow. But it turns out he's not.


LITTMAN: And also going back to your earlier point

LACY: And he's not under investigation.

LITTMAN: You don't know that.


LACY: No, I do know that. The FBI director said it --


LITTMAN: He talked about that was until March 20.

LACY: Right.

LITTMAN: After March 20, what do you this Mueller is doing? Do you think he is just there to hang out with Donald Trump?


LITTMAN: There is a special counsel.

VAUSE: Let's assume the former director is accurate in what he has written down in his memos and his testimony to the Senate, then is this statement we're about the hear from the president even true? Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey, in any way, shape or form, to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also, as you know --

TRUMP: No. No. Next question.


VAUSE: A suggestion of the point where this comes down to a question of credibility. Who is more believable in all this, the president or the former FBI director?

LACY: All right, the elephant in the room is whether or not the president is engaged in an obstruction of justice. You just had an expert speak to that. Look, there is no obstruction of justice. What Donald Trump said at that February 17 meeting was, "I hope" that you can see your way to not -- to deal with Flynn. What he meant by that was you have put in context, Flynn had already suffered a consequence in Trump's mine. He had been fired the day before. And for obstruction of justice, the law requires that you have intent and that you actually have an obstruction of justice. There has been no obstruction of justice. The fact of the matter is, is that today, it was confirmed that the Russian investigation is ongoing. Comey himself said in his letter that he ignored it, and that they continued to continue the investigation with respect to Flynn. So to say that there has been some sort of obstruction of justice is really wishful thinking on the part Trump detractors.

VAUSE: Matt Littman, though, if there had been obstruction of justice, the consequences of the actions don't matter. If that happens, it is just a separate issue. It comes down to what was said and if that was an attempt, in and of itself. What people felt or the consequences or what happened afterwards are irrelevant.

LITTMAN: Well, a very significant point here is a couple of times Trump asked everybody to leave the room so he could talk to the FBI director himself. And assuming it was not because he just wanted to be alone with and play some Lionel Richie music and dim the lights. Obviously, there's something here, there's some intent on Trump's part here. Several times he has asked him, and then he fired him.


LITTMAN: Because he wouldn't drop the case


LACY: I have to say, Comey asked to have the private meeting with Trump earlier. He was to having private meetings because of the so- called salacious content of some of the charges against Trump, which includes these lies about him in this fake dossier of being with Russian hookers.

LITTMAN: Are you saying he wasn't with Russian hookers?


LACY: I'm saying he wasn't, but you may say he was.

VAUSE: I wonder, because Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, and Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, they were before the Senate on Wednesday. There were asked if they were asked if they were pressured by the White House, by Donald Trump to play down the Russia investigation. This is what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Why are you not answering these questions. Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?


UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Then why are you not answering our questions?

ROGERS: I feel it's inappropriate, Senator.

UNIDENTIFEID SENATOR: Mr. Coats, same series of questions. What's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today?

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The basis is that what I previously explained. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to -

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: What's the basis? I'm not satisfied with "I do not believe it is appropriate" or "I do not feel I should answer." I want to understand a legal basis. You swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And today, you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?

COATS: I'm not sure I have a legal basis.


VAUSE: James, they said they never felt pressured by the president, but they would not say they were asked by the president. Why wouldn't they say that?

LACY: I think that the answer could have been at their fingertips now that Robert Mueller is conducting a criminal investigation. And you know, things have changed now. We had four investigations going on to this whole Russian thing before Mueller was made the special counsel by the deputy attorney general. And those were congressional investigations. And congressional investigations are different than criminal investigations. I think it was even Lindsey Graham who said that when the special counsel was going to be appointed that would change the relationship of all of the actors in this whole drama with respect to the Congress, because when there is an actual prosecutor in place who is collecting evidence --

LITTMAN: They just said that they did not have a legal basis for not answering the question. He just said that. They just show a clip of it.


[02:20:14] LACY: And I'm giving you what the legal basis is that perhaps was not addressed by --


LACY: No, no. The reality is that Robert Mueller would not want these officials speaking out about an active investigation because he is relying on them --


LITTMAN: Mueller - Comey is speaking tomorrow about all the times Trump asked him to drop this -- drop this case


LACY: And Comey was fired, so Comey is no longer involved in the investigation


LITTMAN: The Trump administration can hire anybody. And we can have a whole conversation about that.

You mentioned before tax reform. This --


LACY: I think the taxpayers will be well served by --


LITTMAN: How is infrastructure week going for Trump so far?


LITTMAN: I mean, his popularity is down to 35 percent. It's at a record low now, so.

VAUSE: OK, thank you guys, we'll leave it at that, because clearly, depending on where you sit is how you see this today play out. And I guess something similar will happen on Thursday.

Thanks to you both.

LACY: Thank you.

VAUSE: Please stay with CNN and for all of James Comey's testimony. Our special coverage starts Thursday morning, 7:00 a.m. in Washington, noon in London.

And the president has decided who he wants to replace James Comey as FBI director. He made the announcement on Twitter. He seemed to catch all of Washington off guard when he posted that he plans to nominate Christopher Wray. A press release from the White House came five hours later. Wray was a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department's Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005. He's now a lawyer in private practice. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie applauded the president's choice. Wray had represented Christie in the so-called Bridgegate affair in which Christie surrogates were accused of causing a huge traffic jam in a political dispute. And they were found guilty, at least some of them.

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued this statement, "Christopher Wray's firm's legal work for the Trump family, his history of partisan activity, as well as his history of defending Trump's transition directed during a criminal scandal makes us question his ability to lead the FBI with the independence, even- handed judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves."

A short break. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., another round of nuclear tests from North Korea just a day after South Korea's new president said he would suspend the deployment of a missile defense system.


VAUSE: Pyongyang has fired another round of missiles into the sea just east of the Korean peninsula. The South Korea military believes they were surface-to-ship cruise missiles. Traveled about 200 kilometers. This is Pyongyang's fourth missile test since the South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May.

Anna Coren live in Hong Kong with more.

Anna, we're getting world of this missile launch from the United States and the South Koreans. Has there been anything official, any statements from the North Koreans?

[02:25:07] ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No word as yet, John, no official statement from KCNA, which is the official mouthpiece of the North Korean regime. All we know is what the South Koreans and the U.S. defense officials are telling us. They shot four cruise missiles, fired sometime this morning here Asia time. We believe that they were short-range missiles traveling 200 kilometers at an altitude of two kilometers. And that this was a demonstration of various missile and precise targeting capabilities. That's according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

These missiles are short-range, more precise, designed to carry a smaller warhead. It is the first test since the U.N. expanded its sanctions against North Korea. As you say, the fourth test since President Moon came into power a month ago. It's obviously a testing time, John, for the new president.

VAUSE: Earlier today, we heard from South Korea's new president saying he would suspend the deployment of THAAD, the American missile defense system, which is quite controversial, not just in South Korea, but in the region.

COREN: Absolutely, very controversial, particularly for China because they saw it as a threat to international security. So really, by suspending the U.S. missile defense system, we're seeing the concession to China and also perhaps a way of easing tensions with the North Koreans. It's definitely a break away from U.S. foreign policy dealing with North Korea. We know that two of the launches already installed. They will be assessed. However, the other four remaining launches, they will be pending environment assessments of all things, according to the president. That should take about a year, feasible, if they want to beef it up. Perhaps an olive branch to the North Koreans. This, we know, is something that President Moon wants to do. He wants to improve relations and ease tensions, John, on the Korean peninsula.

VAUSE: In the past, that olive branch was rejected pretty quickly. I guess we will find out soon. COREN: We will.

VAUSE: Anna, thank you. Anna Coren, live in Hong Kong.

We'll take a short break. "State of America" with Kate Baldwin is next for our viewers in Asia.

For everyone else, President Trump is now trying his hands as peacemaker in the Persian Gulf. It's a 180 from the White House. Policy details next right here on NEWSROOM L.A.


[02:30:13] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour.


VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump may be changing his stance on a diplomatic crisis pitting Qatar against its neighbors. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates cut ties to Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar has responded by putting its military on high alert.

The White House says President Trump is emphasizing regional unity, but as CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports, that's now how he sounded the day before.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The envoy from Kuwait arrived in Doha on Wednesday evening following his visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait is trying to mediate and it's trying to resolve this crisis.

This also, as we've heard from the White House and from the Qatari government, saying that a phone call took place on Wednesday between President Trump and the ruler of Qatar. President Trump, according to these public statements, offering to help resolve the crisis, even offering to host gulf leaders at the White House.

The public statement is a contradiction to President Trump's tweet on Tuesday against Qatar and his tweets also, seemingly, taking credit for countries in the region moving to isolate Qatar.

There's a lot of confusion and mixed messages when it comes to the U.S.'s position, and more really the president's position when it comes to this crisis.

Some in the region feel that President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia last month emboldened countries, like Saudi and the UAE to move against Qatar, to use the president's push for fighting extremism and fighting extremist funding as a pretext to go after Qatar, to back it into a corner, and to try and settle long-standing regional differences. Despite the diplomacy, the mediation and the calls for calm, there still is a lot of concern here about where this is all heading.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.


VAUSE: An extraordinary hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Four high-ranking intelligence officials in the Trump administration sitting side by side for a hearing that was meant to focus on international surveillance. But when Senators repeatedly asked if the president had asked them to intervene in the FBI's Russia investigation, they refused to answer.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: My questions deserve answers.

BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a contentious intelligence hearing today --

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: And we've gotten no answer from any of you.

KEILAR: -- Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed frustration and, at times, anger at the president's intelligence chiefs.


KEILAR: Repeatedly asking the men to confirm or shoot down news reports that the president asked them to help in the Russia investigation.

SEN. MARK WARNING, (D), VIRGINIA: If any of this is true, it would be an improper use of our intelligence professionals. An act, if true, could erode the public's trust in our intelligence institutions.

KEILAR: Yet, instead of confirming or denying any specific conservations, the director of the National Security Agency and the director of National Intelligence would only answer broadly, saying they had never felt pressured by the president.

ADM. MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: In the three- plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, 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.

[02:35:05] DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: In my term of service, which is in interacting with the president of the United States, for anybody in this administration, I have never been pressured. I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way. KEILAR: But the two intel leaders would not go further, repeatedly stonewalling the committee on questions of whether the reported conversations with the president happened or what was said.

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH, (D), NEW MEXICO: You realize how simple it would simply be to say, "no, that never happened?"

COATS: I think conversations between the president and myself are, for the most part --

HEINRICH: You seem to apply that standard selectively.

COATS: No, I'm not applying it selectively. I'm just saying I don't think it's appropriate --

HEINRICH: You could clear an awful lot of --


COATS: I don't share, I do not share with the general public conversations that I have with the president.

HEINRICH: Well, I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes.

KEILAR: Over and over again.

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: You went back on a pledge.

KEILAR: Angry Senators push back.

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Will you give me answer, please?

COATS: In a closed briefing.

KEILAR: Asking the men who, at times, shifted uncomfortably in their seats to give detailed answers.

ROGERS: I've never been directed to do anything in my three-plus years as the director of the National Security Agency --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: Not directed, asked.

ROGERS: -- that I felt to be inappropriate, and nor have I felt pressured to do so.

MARCO: Have you ever been asked to say anything that is not true.

ROGERS: I stand by my previous statement.

KEILAR: Coats and Rogers told Senators they had discussed their testimony with White House counsel, but they also said they had not been given direction from the White House to refuse to answer or to invoke the president's executive privilege, telling the committee only that it would be inappropriate to discuss their conversations with the president publicly, eventually infuriating Independent Senator Angus King.

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I), MAINE: I'll ask both of you the same question. Why are you not answering these questions? Is there an invocation by the president of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?

ROGERS: Not that I'm aware of.

KING: Then why are you not answering our questions?

ROGERS: Because I feel it is inappropriate, Senator.

KING: What you feel isn't relevant, Admiral. What you feel isn't the answer.

You swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And today, you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?

COATS: I'm not sure I have a legal basis.

KEILAR: In a rare moment of bipartisan exasperation, even the Republican chair of the committee chastised the directors, closing the hearing by saying Congress had a right to the truth.

SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R-NORTH CAROLINA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer. It may be in a different format but the requirements of our oversight duties and your agencies demand it.

KEILAR: Though Coats and Rogers discussed their testimony with White House counsel, their inquiries about whether executive would be invoked, something they would be subject to, though Jim Comey may not be, went unanswered. Media inquiries about whether the White House would invoke executive privilege also went unanswered.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: Still to come, a rare terror attack hits Iran's capitol. ISIS has claimed credit but Iran is passing the blame onto one of its long- time rivals.


[02:40:30] VAUSE: ISIS is claiming responsibility for twin terror attacks in Teheran which killed at least twelve people.




VAUSE: Gunmen tried to storm parliament on Wednesday, opening fire and exploding a suicide bomb. Iran's Revolutionary Guard say Saudi Arabia supported the attackers, allegations the Saudis have denied.

At the same time, another group attacked the burial shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini who founded the modern-day Republic in 1979.

For more, let's go to CNN's Mohammad Lila in Abu Dhabi.

Mohammad, Iran's foreign minister a short time ago had fairly harsh words not just for the United States but also for President Trump's response to the ISIS attack.

MOHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Javad Zarif, tweeting from his verified account saying, "Repugnant White House statement and Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by U.S. clients. The Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship. Those are some Javad Zarif's strongest comments since the attack happened. You have to remember, this is taking place in a region where there has been a war of words between Iran and increasingly Saudi Arabia. In fact, just few hours before the attack took place, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister was reported in some Saudi media saying Iran needed to be punished for its role in interfering in the affairs of its Arab gulf neighbors. So this war of words appears only to continue. But of course, with the Iranian foreign minister, his words are not only strongly at Saudi Arabia, but also at the United States. And of course, they come just three weeks after President Trump made that well-publicized and famous visit to Saudi Arabia that many people believe have shifted the balance of power in the Middle East with the United States giving its full and complete backing to Saudi Arabia to exert more influence in the region.

VAUSE: On another issue, Mohammad, Iran has incredibly high security, very high levels of surveillance as well. The question is, have they worked out how ISIS managed to carry out this attack?

LILA: Well, for example, in some countries, it's common to see people carrying firearms. That is not the case in Iran. You don't see people walking around with guns or firearms on every corner. They don't even have soldiers patrolling as they do in some other countries in the Middle East. So for an attack like this to take place, it would have been very, very sophisticated. That's certainly something Iranian officials and investigators will be looking at. Look, ISIS claimed responsibility immediately after the attack. There was no delay. There have been other cases of other attacks in the Middle East where ISIS waited a few hours, then claimed it. In this case, they claimed it right away. They even put out information claiming how many firearms were involved, how many people they killed, and they even, through their official channels, put out a video that they say was from the gunmen. That shows the level of complexity in this attack. Not only were they able to storm the parliament building and one of the country's most important symbols, the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, but they also had the ability to film part of that attack and somehow transmit that footage out to ISIS's official social media channels and get that out there. It shows just how complicated and complex this attack was.

VAUSE: Yeah, they wanted everyone to know they were the ones behind it. Mohammad, thank you. Mohammad Lila live in Abu Dhabi.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

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[03:00:08] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Show time in Washington. It's the most-anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill in years.