Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement reasserting the intelligence report on the interference of Russia with the U.S general election in 2016, words which were a complete opposite of what the president had said on television after the Trump-Putin summit.
The Director of National Intelligence had a choice to either affirm the president’s rebuke of the U.S intelligence community in which the latter had said that he found no reason to believe Russia interfered with 2016 election but Coats opted to side with the agency. Additionally, he pledged to continue providing unvarnished and objective intelligence on any issue about the country’s security.
The decision to release the statement before it was cleared with the Whitehouse was a decision of Coats, following internal Monday morning discussions.
There was a flood of criticism at home for the president in which some critiques viewed his action as treacherous to the national intelligence. Trump did Tweet later that he had GREAT confidence in his intelligence agency although that assurance did nothing to reassure those that felt he undermined the united states before a country that has challenged them in the global politics. There is also concern that Trump is ready to believe the Russian president instead of his intelligence machinery.
For this reason, the comments by Trump have fuelled questions as to whether Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, should resign or continue to serve in his current capacity. When one senior official in the Whitehouse was asked whether the current DNI should continue serving or quit, he quipped “Good question.”
According to Larry Pfeiffer, Coats is the right person to resign at this juncture as history suggests that when a person of proper integrity quits, conversations can go further to new levels. It is also a show of disgust and protest according to the Tweet by the former CIA official.
Michael Hayden who is a former CIA Director also feels that the current DNI has been steadfast and truthful in his assessments. However, there are points where one wonders whether they are acting as guardrails or are part of the administration as an enabler and legitimizer.
When Pfeiffer was asked whether he believes Coats can run the agency competently, he said that he doesn’t know how Coats can continue to work under such circumstances. The president raised doubts over the warning that Coats gave concerning Russia’s cyber threat, in an interview with CBS News before the summit.
After Trump and his top intelligence official differed publicly, the future of Coats seems uncertain despite the president assurance in the interview that he had a lot of respect for the DNI.