President Donald Trump plans to invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington this autumn, the White House said on Thursday, four days after a summit that led to an uproar in the United States over Trump's failure to publicly confront Putin for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 USA election.
"I have felt very strongly that, while Russia's actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that, and I have said this many times, I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place", he said, but added, "It could be other people, also".
"That's going to be special", he added, prompting laughter from the audience.
Coats, whose office briefs Trump nearly daily on the most classified information on security threats to the United States, made clear that he did not agree with the president's decision to meet with Putin one-on-one, with only translators by their sides.
Other perceived slights from Coats included the news that he still hadn't been told what was said between Trump and Putin in their one-on-one meeting in Helsinki.
Mr Trump was attacked by both sides of politics and Americans across the board for appearing to side with Mr Putin over his own intelligence agencies with regards to whether Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.
Asked by a different reporter in the audience to clarify whether he was aware of the White House's invitation to Putin to Washington this fall, Coats said frankly, "I think based on my reaction I wasn't aware of that". "It wasn't always conciliatory in that meeting", Trump said, without elaborating.
Trump and Putin held two hours of closed-door talks with no one else present but the interpreters.
Coats, the head of the US intelligence community and a chief adviser to the president on national security, learned of the proposed second meeting with Putin when the White House announced it on Twitter, while he was being interviewed at the Aspen conference.
Following Coats's interview, people close to Trump have reportedly speculated whether Trump would fire Coats, with one source telling Axios that the president never had a liking for him.
"I find that meetings between the United States and Russian presidents must return to normality", she said.
Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, expressed hope Thursday that "the verbal agreements between Putin and Trump will be fulfilled".
With the fallout from the Putin meeting matching or eclipsing previous controversies in Trump's turbulent 18-month presidency, critics of his performance in Helsinki included many fellow Republicans.
"Say that again?" Mr Coats asked when told about Trump and Putin's second meeting. Dan Sullivan said "I wouldn't do it, that's for damn sure".
On Thursday, Sanders said in a statement that Trump disagreed with the proposal.
"He does believe that they [Russia] would target USA elections again".
Trump later said he misspoke about Russia's election interference and meant to say he did not "see any reason why it wouldn't be Russian Federation".