Former director of national intelligence Dan Coats could not shake his “deep suspicions” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “had something” on President Trump, seeing “no other explanation” for the president’s behavior, according to Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage.”
Coats was the president’s top intelligence official from March 2017 until August 2019.
Woodward reports that Coats and his staff examined the intelligence regarding Trump’s ties to Russia “as carefully as possible” and that he “still questions the relationship” between Trump and Putin despite the apparent absence of intelligence proof.
But Coats was still uneasy about the relationship between Trump and Putin.
He “saw how extraordinary it was for the president’s top intelligence official to harbor such deep suspicions about the president’s relationship with Putin. But he could not shake them.”
The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt reported in his new book that former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein secretly curtailed an FBI counterintelligence probe into Trump’s ties to Russia, meaning the full scope of decades of the president’s personal and financial dealings there has never been explored.
The explosive Woodward book, which is based in part on 18 interviews that Trump sat for with the veteran journalist, details the “tortured” tenure of Coats and other officials described by the Washington Post as “so-called adults of the Trump orbit” — including former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
At one point, Mattis went to Washington National Cathedral to pray for the country’s fate under Trump’s leadership.
He reportedly told Coats, “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” to speak out against Trump because he is “dangerous. He’s unfit.”
In a later conversation reported by Woodward, Mattis told Coats, “The president has no moral compass.” Coats reportedly responded, “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”
The US intelligence community determined in early 2017 that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to propel Trump to the Oval Office.
Coats and other intelligence officials testified to Congress last year that Russia was one of the biggest national security threats facing the US ahead of the 2020 election and that it would continue employing the tactics it used in 2016 and during the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump is angered by the release of the Woodward book.
“The Bob Woodward book will be a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 14, before the book had come out.
This is despite the fact that the president sat for 18 interviews with Woodward.