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National intelligence director shocked by White House invite to Putin

Trump didn’t tell his top intelligence official he was inviting Putin to the White House this fall — raising a host of questions about what Trump is trying to hide and why.

By Caroline Orr - July 19, 2018
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was not aware of Trump’s plans to invite Vladimir Putin to the White House this fall — at least, not until NBC’s Andrea Mitchell broke the news to him on live television.

Coats was seated onstage during an event at the Aspen Security Forum when Mitchell told him she had breaking news to announce.

“We have some breaking news — the White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall,” Mitchell said.

“Say that again?” Coats replied, before breaking into nervous laughter. “Did I hear you right?”

“OK, that’s gonna be special,” he remarked as the audience laughed in the background.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon that Trump had asked his national security adviser John Bolton to invite Putin to Washington, D.C., this fall for a second summit.

“[T]hose discussions are already underway,” Sanders said.

After Mitchell broke the news about the upcoming White House summit, Coats acknowledged that he “wasn’t aware of it” beforehand.

This comes just days after Trump’s disastrous meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, during which Trump blamed the poor state of U.S.-Russia relations on America, and then said he believed Putin over the U.S. intelligence community.

As recently as Wednesday, Trump rejected the assessment of Coats and others in the intelligence community, telling reporters that he doesn’t think Russia is still targeting the U.S. with cyberattacks — precisely the opposite of what Coats stated last week when he warned that Russia is “the most aggressive foreign actor” carrying out cyberattacks against the U.S.

Coats also mentioned Thursday that he still doesn’t know what happened during Monday’s summit between Trump and Putin, and that he wasn’t told about last year’s Oval Office meeting between Trump and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

It was during that meeting that Trump blurted out top secret intelligence that was passed to the U.S. from Israel.

The meeting was “probably not the best thing to do,” Coats said Thursday.

Indeed. And had Trump told his top intelligence official about the idea of another summit with Putin, he likely would have been advised against it — which raises a whole new set of questions about what Trump is trying to hide and why.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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