President Donald Trump seethed Wednesday morning as he watched the highlights of his intelligence chiefs testifying on Capitol Hill and singled out Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by name during his morning rant, two people with knowledge of the outburst tell CNN.
The President didn’t see Coats’ full testimony in front of lawmakers that took place on Tuesday, but he was furious Wednesday as he watched television chyrons blare that the officials had contradicted him. The snippets of Coats saying that North Korea had “halted its provocative behavior related to its WMD program” but was unlikely to “completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities” angered him, CNN has learned.
Trump made his displeasure with the intelligence team clear on Twitter just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, but he didn’t single Coats out in his tweets like he did verbally. The President was more frustrated with the coverage than the assessments of the intelligence chiefs, who brief him on national security matters regularly.
Trump’s once-wobbly relationship with Coats had finally seemed to recover after an episode over the summer sent it teetering toward the edge.
Coats was being interviewed on stage at a security conference in July when he seemed astonished as host Andrea Mitchell, of NBC, told him the White House planned to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington in the coming months.
“Say that again?” Coats asked NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the time. “OK. …That is going to be special.”
The President only had one public event on his schedule Wednesday – an intelligence briefing. Coats typically briefs the President, but it was unclear whether he was in attendance or sent his deputy.
Asked about his future, an official said the President does not plan to fire Coats and his job is safe.
Coats on Tuesday contradicted Trump’s statements that ISIS has been defeated, telling members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that ISIS “has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide.”
“ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria,” he added.
Coats has repeatedly differed in opinion from the President on matters concerning Russia, dating back to his first month on the job.
In March 2017, Trump asked Coats to convince then-FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the bureau’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported that year. Coats determined that such a move would be inappropriate, officials told the Post.
At a security summit last summer, Coats said that he was unaware of what had happened between Trump and Putin at the Helsinki summit in July, and that he would have advised the President to conduct himself differently had Trump asked for his counsel.
“I don’t know what happened in that meeting. I think as time goes by and the President has already mentioned some of the things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more. But that is the President’s prerogative,” Coats said at the time.
He added, “If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way, but that’s not my role. That’s not my job. So it is what it is.”
More than two weeks after the summit, Coats reiterated his point at the White House, telling reporters that he was “not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki.”
CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.