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Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning that he doesn't "feel it's appropriate to characterize [his] discussions with the president" after being asked about yesterday's reports that President Trump had asked him to publicly refute the possibility of the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia.

What he did say: Coats stated that he "made clear" to the White House that any "political shaping" of his position would be inappropriate. Additionally, he stated that he was unaware of the Trump administration reaching out to any other intel officials.

Another thing: Coats told the committee that he's been traveling and hasn't had a chance to discuss Trump's apparent disclosure of Israeli intel to Russian officials directly with the president yet.

The real purpose of the hearing was for Coats to provide an update on worldwide threats to the United States.

  • Manchester: "ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Manchester…we have not verified, yet, the connection." Coats also referred to yesterday's bombing as a "suicide attack."
  • North Korea: The nation is nuclear but has "demonstrated capabilities short of an ICBM at this point in time."
  • Iran: The nuclear deal has "extended" its development time for a nuclear bomb "from a few months to about a year."
  • Russia and the U.S.: It will be "more unpredictable in its approach to the United States" as it continues to attempt to undermine democratic institutions around the world.
  • Russia and the Middle East: It wants to use its presence in Syria and the worldwide fear of ISIS to expand its influence across the Middle East.

Go deeper

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.