Andrea Mitchell interviewed Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats this afternoon at the Aspen Institute. Some news was made.
BREAKING: Andrea @mitchellreports reads aloud the WH has just announced Putin will be visiting the Washington this fall. DNI Dan Coats, eye wide, pauses, says: "Say that again? Did I hear you…. *sighs*… okaaaaay" to laugher at #AspenSecurity.
— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) July 19, 2018
DNI Coats says "I don’t know what happened in that meeting" when asked about Trump's private, hours-long summit with Vladimir Putin. #AspenSecurity
— Dustin Volz (@dnvolz) July 19, 2018
Andrea Mitchell asks Coats whether he knew Russia's Lavrov and Kisylak were going to go into the Oval Office with Trump last year. "Probably not the best thing to do. But no, I was not aware of it."
"I’m not aware of anything since" taking place, he adds. #AspenSecurity
— Dustin Volz (@dnvolz) July 19, 2018
This is very, very important information that the DNI decided to share. Specifically, he is not in the loop, at least in regard to matters pertaining to Russia, in regard to what the President is and is not doing! That’s astounding. And it reinforces Susan Glasser’s reporting in The New Yorker (emphasis mine):
Days after the Helsinki summit, Trump’s advisers have offered no information—literally zero—about any such agreements. His own government apparently remains unaware of any deals that Trump made with Putin, or any plans for a second meeting, and public briefings from the State Department and Pentagon have offered no elaboration except to make clear that they are embarrassingly uninformed days after the summit.
Unlike Putin, Trump did not brief his own diplomats on the Helsinki meeting. The American Secretary of State, national-security adviser, and Ambassador to Moscow, who attended the lunch after Trump and Putin’s private session, have been publicly silent on the substance of the meetings, leaving it to the Russians, for now, to make claims about what was actually said and done behind closed doors between the two Presidents.
The information provided to America’s top diplomats, those whose job it is to deal with Russia, was just as sparse and potentially incomplete. The Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Russia, Wess Mitchell, on Tuesday briefed the State Department group that has been pulled together to discuss Russia policy before and after the summit. There was no mention of any agreements. “There is no word on agreements,” a senior U.S. official told me. “There is no information on the U.S. side about any agreements.” So was Putin lying? Was Trump? Was it possible there was a misunderstanding, and that Trump thinks he made no commitments and Putin thinks he did? “It is terribly disturbing,” the senior official said. “The point is that we don’t know.”
A U.S. Ambassador in Europe, who has extensive experience dealing with Russia, told me that he and other State Department officials who would need to know have received no post-summit briefings, or even talking points about what happened, both of which would be standard practice after such an important encounter. “Nothing,” he told me. “We are completely in the dark. Completely.”
I’ve twice written about how, because the President is considered to be a security risk when it comes to intelligence/information by US, allied, and partnered intelligence officials, the US was going to be at a disadvantage in regard to intelligence matters. What we know from both Andrea Mitchell’s interview with DNI Coats and Susan Glasser’s reporting, is that the President is compounding this problem by not telling his own senior appointees what they need to know to actually do their jobs effectively.
Here’s the video of the interview. Since I wasn’t around to see the whole thing, I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but the parts of the interview I saw were very informative.
We are off the map and through the looking glass!