Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday reacted to his successor Dan Coats’ stunning interview last Thursday at the Aspen Ideas Fest, during which Coats admitted he still doesn’t know what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin discussed in their two-hour-long meeting in Helsinki.
Clapper said the public likewise doesn’t know what happened during that meeting.
“I hope that members of the national security team, notably secretary of defense and the secretary of state and the national security adviser, all do know what was discussed,” Clapper said. “And perhaps what was conceded.”
“You know, if I were sitting in the Pentagon where I spent a lot of time, I would be wondering what in the way of military operations or capabilities did he perhaps unknowingly compromise or give up,” Clapper continued. “And we don’t know that.”
“Well, we know that the director of national intelligence—your old gig—Dan Coats, didn’t know as of, what was it, Thursday?” CNN host John Berman replied. “He didn’t know as of Thursday what was discussed. I don’t know if he has found out since then, but that would be unusual, yes?”
Clapper, laughing, explained that situation “would be highly unusual.”
“I felt bad for Dan Coats, who is an honorable man and a great public servant,” Clapper said. “And I thought, frankly, he reacted as gracefully as he could under the circumstance.”
Berman noted Coats “apologized” for his reaction to learning about second meeting between the two leaders, which was seen by some as a dig at Trump.
“He apologized, I think for what was perceived by the White House as a sign of disrespect when he laughed openly, and he said that the notion of a second summit between President Trump and president Putin would be ‘special,’” Berman explained. “Were you surprised by the apology?”
“Well, not really,” Clapper said.”I think probably he felt himself he had to do that. And I think it’s —the White House doesn’t have a sense of humor.”