President Donald Trump reportedly urged two top intelligence officials to publicly deny that his campaign colluded with Russia after ex-FBI Director James Comey's confirmed the existence of a probe into that matter.
The Washington Post first reported the news, which NBC News later confirmed, citing a former senior intelligence official knowledgeable about the situation.
The president made "separate appeals" to the directors of national intelligence and the National Security Agency to say no evidence existed, the newspaper reported, citing "current and former officials." DNI Daniel Coats and NSA Chief Michael Rogers found the requests "inappropriate" and did not comply, according to the Post.
Coats and Rogers exchanged notes about their conversations with Trump, NBC reported, citing the source. The two officials didn't think they were being asked to do anything illegal, the source added to NBC. Rather, they believed it was more of a public relations request, according to the former official.
"I don't think [Trump] ever asked somebody to say something they didn't believe was true," the former official said, according to NBC News.
He said the two officials were "sufficiently concerned that it was an extraordinary thing that they took care to write it down, but not sufficiently concerned that they reported it." According to NBC, the former official said Rogers saw the request as a threat to the NSA, which is not a policy organization.
In March testimony to Congress, Comey confirmed for the first time that the bureau was looking into "the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts." Trump's requests to the intelligence officials came after that, according to the Post.
President Donald Trump fired Comey earlier this month. Trump's public statements and a paper trail Comey reportedly left behind about his interactions with the president have raised questions about whether Trump tried to impede the FBI's probe on Russia.
Multiple congressional committees have sought Comey's testimony to clarify the events that led to his termination. Lawmakers have also asked for reported records that Comey kept, including a memo in which he allegedly says Trump asked him to let go of a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment on this story.
NBC's Ken Dilanian contributed to this report.