Speed Reads

almost on message

Intelligence chief reaffirms Russia is trying to meddle in the midterms, says he doesn't know what Trump and Putin discussed

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Thursday said that the cyberattacks that are persistently working to "weaken and divide the United States" are targeting all Americans, "regardless of party."

Speaking at a White House press briefing, Coats emphasized the "pervasive messaging campaign" that could influence the 2018 midterm elections, but said the efforts were not as "robust" as the interference in the 2016 elections.

"We acknowledge the threat," said Coats. "It is real. It is continuing. And we're doing everything we can to have a legitimate election that the American people can have trust in." Coats drew ire from the Trump administration last month when he expressed surprise at President Trump's apparently cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. One officials said Coats had "gone rogue," additionally criticizing his choice to issue a statement that reaffirmed his confidence in Russia's "ongoing" attempt to "undermine our democracy." His comments came after Putin said he wanted Trump to win in 2016.

Coats seemed to be back in alignment with Trump's messaging Thursday, appearing at the briefing with other administration officials like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. However, when asked about the details of Trump's conversation with Putin at their summit in Helsinki more than two weeks ago, Coats said he wasn't "in a position to either understand fully or talk about" the summit.