Trump advisers angry over intel chief’s Aspen interview: report
President Trump’s advisers were reportedly left outraged by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’s interview in Aspen, Colo., on Thursday, concerned that his comments hitting Trump over his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would upset the president.
Trump advisers told The Washington Post that they are concerned the president could view Coats’s remarks as a personal betrayal after Trump publicly praised the official during a Wednesday interview.
“Coats has gone rogue,” one senior White House official told the Post.
Coats said during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum that he would have advised Trump against meeting one-on-one with Putin, and was visibly surprised when told that the White House had invited Putin for a visit this fall.
“OK,” a surprised Coats said about the proposed meeting. “That’s going to be special.”
Some advisers said Coats appeared to be laughing at the president, according to The Washington Post.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told the Post that the intelligence director and Trump have a good relationship and that the pair speak often.
He also pushed back against aides’ claims that Coats may have been undercutting Trump by saying he was “just doing my job” by issuing a statement rebuking the president’s comments on Russia’s election interference.
“For someone in the White House to criticize Dan Coats for speaking truth to power is unfair,” the official told the newspaper.
Coats said in a statement Monday that Russian efforts to interfere with U.S. elections were “ongoing” and “pervasive” after Trump appeared to side with Putin’s denials of election meddling.
Trump later walked back his comments, saying that he believed the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election.
Coats said during the event in Aspen on Thursday that he “was just doing my job” by releasing the statement following Trump’s siding with Putin.
“I just felt at this point in time what we had assessed and reassessed and reassessed and carefully gone over still stands and that it was important to take that stand on behalf of the intelligence community and on behalf of the America people,” Coats said.