Dan Coats today emerged as a new favorite of mine among those who serve on Donald J. Trump’s national security team.
The director of national intelligence sat down for a lengthy interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell; he is attending that policy forum discussion in Aspen, Colo.
He spoke honestly with Mitchell about the president’s meeting this week in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. He said he would “do things differently” in terms of setting up such a meeting. He is uncomfortable with the two leaders meeting privately with no senior staff aides present.
Mitchell then surprised the DNI with news that Trump had asked Putin to come to Washington in the fall for a second summit meeting.
The idea that the most indispensable intelligence official wouldn’t know about such a meeting is appalling on its face. Coats didn’t hold back on his surprise. “Say that again,” he said to Mitchell, who repeated the news. Coats raised his eyebrows, commenting finally on how interesting the meeting is going to be.
Coats served as a Republican member of Congress. He is a staunch and dedicated partisan. He also is a dedicated public servant who has given the public his candid appraisal of what the intelligence community has concluded: The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016.
Defense Secretary James Mattis is my previous favorite among Trump’s senior aides. He remains highly regarded by yours truly.
So, too, does Dan Coats.