Top American intelligence official Dan Coats is saying he meant no disrespect to President Trump in a televised interview discussing the recent summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland.
Director of National Intelligence Coats says his Thursday comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were not intended as criticism of how the president handled the summit. In the days since the summit, Trump has faced criticism from officials on both sides of the political aisle over his handling of Putin and Russia, which intelligence officials say meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
According to The Associated Press, Coats has been under scrutiny since he said he wished Trump had not met one-on-one with the Russian leader, expressed dismay that the president had publicly undermined U.S. intelligence agencies, and appeared surprised by the revelation that Trump invited Putin to a meeting in Washington later this year.
“Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview. My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President,” Coats said.
“I and the entire intel community are committed to providing the best possible intelligence to inform and support President Trump’s ongoing efforts to prevent Russian meddling in our upcoming elections, to build strong relationships internationally in order to maintain peace, denuclearize dangerous regimes and protect our nation and our allies.”
Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.