Independent Sen. Angus King on Tuesday warned against the possible dismissal of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats for contradicting President Donald Trump during a congressional hearing.
“If in fact Dan Coats is pushed out, which I deeply hope isn’t the case because he’s a great public servant, but if he is, the message is ‘Don’t give me the facts,’” King told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
The comments from King, who represents Maine, came just a day after Chris Ruddy, a longtime Trump confidant, suggested the intelligence official may be fired by the President. Last month, Coats and other intelligence chiefs appeared to contradict Trump on national security issues in testimony to Congress. Sources told CNN that the President singled out Coats for criticism the next morning.
“I’m hearing from sources around the White House there’s just general disappointment of the President with Director Coats. There’s a feeling that maybe there needs to be a change of leadership in that position,” Ruddy told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
Ruddy said that he doesn’t know what Trump’s plan is, but that he has “talked to various people, not him, that are very close in the White House with the security positions the President is taking.”
“And I think generally there’s a deep concern that on the eve of the North Korea (summit) to have your director of national intelligence in open hearings undercutting your position was very bad form,” he said.
King told Berman that he believes Coats is an “honest, upright, thoughtful guy.”
“And he enunciated his obligation very clearly in that hearing. He said my job – the job of the intelligence community – is to seek the truth and speak the truth,” he said, adding should Coats be fired, it will send a bad message to the intelligence community.
“The message to the intelligence community is shade the data, cook it, slant it, don’t tell the man what he doesn’t want to hear. That’s disastrous for the country,” King said.
CNN’s Katie Bernard and Mick Krever contributed to this report.