Coats: No ‘Disrespect’ Intended With My ‘Awkward’ Response To Trump’s Putin Invite

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats arrive to brief members of the so-called 'Gang of Eight' at the U.S. Capitol May 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. The bipartisan group of senators and representatives requested a briefing from the intelligence officials about the FBI's use of a confidential intelligence source in the Russia investigation. The "Gang of Eight" consists of the top Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate intelligence committee as well as congressional leaders from both parties.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats apologized Saturday for his “awkward” response — in front of an audience in Aspen, Colorado — to the news that President Donald Trump would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, D.C.

“Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview,” Coats said in a statement quoted by multiple outlets. “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President.”

“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,” he added.

“That’s going to be special,” Coats said to laughter when NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell informed him, during a live interview at the Aspen Security Forum, that Trump would invite Putin to Washington. Trump was apparently not happy with Coats’ response.

Trump has contradicted Coats multiple times in recent days, making several statements that hewed closer to Russian denials of 2016 election meddling that the intelligence community’s assertions otherwise.

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