sent an official statement shortly after the summit, reaffirming that U.S. intelligence agencies “have been clear” about Russian meddling in the 2016 election “and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Coats stood by that statement in his interview Thursday.
“I just felt at this point in time, that what we had assessed and reassessed and reassessed and carefully gone over still stands,” Coats said.
“It was important to take that stand on behalf of the intelligence community and on behalf of the American people.”
He added: “Obviously, I wished he had made a different statement, but I think that now that has been clarified based on his late reactions to this.”
“I don’t think I want to go any further than that.”
Coats was referring to Trump’s insistence that he misspoke when he said “I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia who hacked the Democrats in 2016.
On Tuesday, Trump said he meant to say he didn’t see “any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.”
During Coats’ interview, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced in a tweet that Trump had asked National Security Advisor John Bolton to invite Putin to the White House in the fall.
Coats’ real-time reaction to the news drew a laugh from the crowd. “Say that again?” he asked.
“Okay,” he said after a pause. “That’s gonna be special.”