National Intelligence Director Dan Coats: ‘I No Longer Put Any Stock in Breaking News’

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, when recently asked about a Washington Post article, said he does not rely on news headlines and breaking news anymore due to doubts about their accuracy.

At the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Friday, a journalist asked Coats about a Post story that said U.S. intelligence intercepts showed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about campaign-related issues, which would appear to contradict what he has said publicly.

Coats acknowledged he saw the headline of the story but said, “I’ve come to the point where I no longer put any stock in headlines or breaking news.”

His comment drew applause from the audience, which consisted of professionals working in national security.

“Sorry. I tell my friends – and if I was talking to the nation, which I don’t, I would say – actually, my wife has been the best encourager of me to say, ask a question first before you take something as truth.”

“So I’m going to ask, you know, is this for real? Is this the real thing? Try to get some details before I draw a conclusion. And I’m trying to do that with everything,” he said, drawing more applause.

The Post’s report was based on a description of the alleged intercepted intelligence read over the phone by officials to its reporters.

The story had scarce details on what exactly was discussed, for how long, and in what level of detail.

One official told the Post that the intelligence indicated that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on “campaign-related matters,” including Trump’s positions on Russian issues, as well as prospects for U.S-Russian relations in a Trump administration.

The Justice Department said it was unable to comment on the story due to the lack of detail and unclear sourcing.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the leakers Saturday to provide the entire conversation, versus just describing the communications over the phone:

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