- Two of President Donald Trump’s top intelligence officials hinted that they have considered resigning from their positions.
- FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats made the comments at the Aspen Security Forum this week.
- The comments came after Trump’s widely-panned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Two of President Donald Trump’s top intelligence officials hinted within 24 hours of each other that they have considered resigning from their positions.
First was FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was asked by NBC News anchor Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum whether he had previously threatened to resign from his position.
“There have also been stories that you threatened to resign,” Holt said on Wednesday night. “Have you ever hit a point on that issue of sources and methods or anything else when you said, this is a line?”
“I’m a low-key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of,” Wray answered. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Next was Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the top US intelligence official, who was also at the Aspen Security Forum. During a Thursday interview with NBC News anchor Andrea Mitchell, Coats was asked if he had ever considered resigning from his position.
“That’s a place I don’t really go to publicly,” Coats said, joking that he’s “tried to retire twice,” noting his previous retirements from the Senate.
“Are there days when you think, ‘Well, what am I doing?’ Yeah,” he continued. “But there’s lot more days saying, “You know, the mission here is critical. And to be able to be a part of it, be able to feel like you’re giving something back to your country – it’s a reward. … As long as I’m able to have the ability to seek the truth and speak the truth, I’m on board.”
The comments came after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
During a press conference alongside Putin that followed an hours-long private meeting, Trump cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.
He also attacked his Democratic opponents and the FBI, and said he held both countries accountable for the state of their relations.
“My people came to me – Dan Coats came to me, some others – they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said, referring to the director of national intelligence and the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
He cited Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of such interference. And he seemed to endorse a plan Putin proposed that would allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to work with Russian investigators to question 12 Russians indicted last week by Mueller – a plan the White House would later in the week said Trump disagreed with.
On Tuesday, Trump said he misspoke alongside Putin and actually meant to say the opposite of what he said – that he didn’t see any reason why it “wouldn’t” be Russia who interfered.
“I’ve said this many times,” Trump said, reading from a written statement. “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”
But Trump made some adjustments to the written statement, adding that the meddlers “could be other people also.”
The episode led Coats and Wray to publicly reaffirm the intelligence communities assessment about Russia. During his interview with Mitchell on Thursday, Coats said he wished Trump did not meet with Putin alone and admitted that he did not know what transpired in that meeting.
Coats was also informed that Trump was working to arrange a visit from Putin to Washington, DC, this fall.
Soon after his interview, Axios reported that a source close to Trump said the president was not particularly fond of his intelligence chief.
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