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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Thursday that he felt he "needed to correct the record" following President Trump's comments during the Helsinki summit with Russia President Vladimir Putin, adding that he wished Trump had "made a different statement" as it is "undeniable that the Russians are taking a lead on this."

Our thought bubble: It was a STUNNING interview ... and is already catching heat and attention among Trump loyalists. I've already had two phone calls from sources close to Trump expressing their astonishment. The fact that Trump’s own intelligence director is saying these things is extraordinary. A moment of true and startling independence. Reveals how concerned Coats is about what happened with Putin.

What we're hearing: Sources close to Trump tell Axios that they're already speculating about whether Trump ends up firing Coats. Per a source with knowledge, Trump has never had much affection for Coats.

Why it matters: All week the White House has been trying to clarify Trump's performance at the summit, during which he failed to publicly confront Putin for claiming Russia didn't interfere in the U.S. presidential election, even though the U.S. intelligence community concluded that it had.

The backdrop: Earlier this week, Coats issued a statement reinforcing the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Key quotes, from his interview on MSNBC:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Coats said he doesn't know what happened during Trump's closed-door meeting with Putin, and asked if it was recorded by the Russians, he said: “That risk is always there.”
  • How Trump prefers his intelligence briefings: "He likes it orally. He likes examples .... We use models. We use charts. We use a number of things."
  • Coats said the Oval Office meeting between Trump and former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, during which Trump shared classified information, was “probably not the best thing to do."
  • His take on Putin: "Look, I think anybody who thinks that Vladimir Putin doesn't have a stamp on everything that happens in Russia is misinformed. It is very clear that virtually nothing happens there of any kind of consequence that Vladimir Putin doesn't know about or hasn't ordered. I think we're pretty sure about that."  

Go deeper

Latinos twice as likely as white people to die from gunfire

Expand chart
Data: Violence Policy Center; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Nearly 3,000 Latinos each year have died from gunfire in the United States over the last two decades, making them twice as likely to be shot to death than white non-Hispanics, according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

By the numbers: Almost 70,000 Latinos were killed with firearms between 1999 and 2019, 66% of them in homicides, according to the center’s data analysis.

Top labor leader Richard Trumka dies unexpectedly at 72

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who led the largest federation of unions in the country for over a decade, has died at 72.

The big picture: Trumka began working as a coal miner in 1968 and would go on to dedicate his life to the labor movement, including as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO beginning in 2009.

California wildfire explodes in size, destroys historic town

Battalion Chief Sergio Mora looks on as the Dixie fire burns through downtown Greenville, Calif. on Aug. 4, 2021. Photo: Josh EdelsonAFP via Getty Images

The small Sierra town of Greenville, Calif., was heavily damaged on Wednesday night into early Thursday as the Dixie Fire surged northward amid high winds, extremely dry air and hot temperatures.

The big picture: The Dixie Fire, California's biggest blaze and the sixth-largest wildfire in state history, razed houses and businesses as it ripped through Greenville and surrounding areas in Plumas County.