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‘You Went Back on a Pledge!’ Dem. Senator Gets Nasty With DNI Chief Dan Coats

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats got into a heated skirmish at Wednesday’s Senate Intelligence hearing.

Wyden was furious with Coats over his inability to discuss incidental surveillance during his testimony:

Mr. Director, as recently as April you promised Americans that you would provide what you called a relevant metric for the number of law-abiding Americans who were swept up in the FISA 702 searches. This morning, you went back on that promise and you said that even putting together a sampling, a statistical element, would jeopardize national security. I think that is a very, very damaging position to stake out. We’re gonna battle it out in the course of this, because there are a lot of Americans who share our view that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. We can have both. You rejected that this morning! You went back on a pledge! And I think it is damaging to the public!

Coats fired back:

What I pledged to you in my confirmation hearing is that I would make every effort to try to find out why we were not able to come to a specific number of collection on U.S. persons. I told you I would consult with Admiral Rogers. I told you I would go to the National Security Agency to try to determine whether or not I was able to do that. I went out there, I talked to them, they went through the technical details. There were extensive efforts on the part of — I learned — on the parts of NSA to try to come to get you an appropriate answer. We were not able to do that.

Wyden interrupted Coats quite a bit during his testimony, citing the time constraints put on his questioning. At one point, someone intervened and implored Wyden to allow Coats to speak.

“Can the witness respond?” said a voice off camera. (A voice which sounded an awful lot like that of Senator John McCain, who is not an intelligence Committee member but was sitting in on the hearing.)

“Apparently not,” Coats mumbled in obvious annoyance.

Watch the heated showdown above, via CNN.

[featured image via screengrab]

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo