Inside the White House, Trump’s advisers were in an uproar over Coats’s interview in Aspen, Colo. They said the optics were especially damaging, noting that at moments Coats appeared to be laughing at the president, playing to his audience of the intellectual elite in a manner that was sure to infuriate Trump.
“Coats has gone rogue,” said one senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment.
After Coats indirectly rebuked Trump’s Helsinki performance on Monday, senior administration officials were concerned that the intelligence director could perhaps resign and so implored Trump to reassure Coats and calm the waters. Trump tried to do just that on Wednesday in an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor, singling out Coats by name for praise. A transcript of the president’s interview was sent to Coats to ensure the director of national intelligence saw the comments, the senior official said.
White House aides are worried that Trump will interpret the comments by Coats as a personal betrayal, since they came so soon after the president praised him.