- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Thursday reacted with surprise in learning the White House is working to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall.
- Coats was informed of the development during a live interview.
- It came days after President Donald Trump’s controversial meeting with Putin in Helsinki.
The nation’s intelligence chief was informed during a live interview on Thursday that President Donald Trump is working to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this fall.
In the midst of an interview with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell told him of some breaking news.
“The White House has announced Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall,” she said.
Coats replied, “Say that again.”
“Vladimir Putin,” Mitchell said.
“Did I hear you?” he said.
Mitchell confirmed Coats heard her correctly and he said, “OK…. That’s gonna be special.”
Andrea Mitchell: We have some breaking news. The WH has announced Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: Say that again.
AM: Vladimir Putin—
DC: Did I hear you?
DC: Ok… That's gonna be special. pic.twitter.com/zIKVECPm2x
— David Mack (@davidmackau) July 19, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday tweeted discussions surrounding a potential visit from Putin were already “underway.”
The developments came as the Trump administration is working to contain the fallout from Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, earlier this week.
During a joint press conference with Putin, Trump sided with the Russian leader and cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusions on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In the wake of the press conference, Coats released a forceful statement reaffirming the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election and is planning future attacks.
Since his return to the US, Trump has made inconsistent statements on Russian election interference. On Tuesday, he attempted to clarify his position, saying he believed US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the election, then adding it could be “other people also.”
The president also seemed to suggest Wednesday that he did not believe Russia was planning future attacks, contradicting Coats’ statement from Monday, but the White House later said the press had misinterpreted his remarks.
Meanwhile, the White House has faced bipartisan criticism for considering a proposal from Putin to allow Russia to question Americans, including former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, in relation to crimes Putin accuses a prominent US investor of committing.
Amid the backlash, the White House on Thursday said Trump “disagrees” with Putin’s “sincere” proposal. Simultaneously, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution expressing its opposition to allowing Russia to question US officials.
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