“Say that again?” Mr. Coats asked in surprise, as the audience laughed.
On whether Putin and Trump should have had one-on-one talks, Coats said that it remained “president’s prerogative”.
In Twitter posts on Thursday morning, Trump accused the news media of distorting comments in which he gave credence to Putin’s denials of election interference.
It also named other former US officials, including someone it described as a former intelligence officer, Russia’s state-operated RIA news agency reported.
Last week, following Trump’s widely panned summit with the Russian president, Coats offered a wary assessment at odds with the president’s desire for a closer relationship with the former head of the KGB.
During the meeting in Tehran on Thursday, Lavrentiev briefed Iravani on the issues discussed at the recent Trump-Putin summit in Finland’s capital of Helsinki.
Trump has faced widespread domestic criticism in recent days following the summit in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday, most notably over an initial refusal to blame Russian Federation for meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mr Trump appeared to disagree with United States intelligence when he responded “no” to a question about whether Russian Federation was still targeting American elections.
“Those discussions are already underway”, White House Pres Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted this afternoon.
Bolton on Tuesday laid out four talking points for the crisis-hit White House, according to one official: that Trump stress he supports USA intelligence agencies, that there was never any Russian collusion with his campaign, that Russian meddling is unacceptable and the United States is doing everything it can to protect elections in 2018 and beyond.
The White House has been struggling to contain a political outcry and confusion over the summit ever since.
Going into Monday´s meeting in Helsinki, Trump said he wanted to improve relations with Russian Federation, which he characterized as the worst they have ever been.
“They are ready to sacrifice the interests of their businesses, which are losing multimillion-dollar contracts and the Russian market in general, as well as jobs in the United States”, he said.
In a toughly-worded speech, Putin said US-Russia ties were by “some parameters” worse than during the Cold War and took aim at the US establishment.
Meanwhile, the White House sought Thursday to tamp down another firestorm that broke out in the wake of Trump’s summit this week with Putin, making clear the president does not support the Russian leader’s proposal to allow his government to interview American officials.
Putin told Russian diplomats that in Helsinki, he proposed a referendum to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine but agreed not to disclose the plan so that Trump could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.
In Moscow, Putin said “powerful” USA forces were trying to sabotage the summit’s achievements, but said he and Trump had begun to improve US-Russia ties anyway. She said the US hopes Putin will have the indicted Russians “come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt”.
The US president “disagrees” with a proposal made by Mr Putin that Russia be allowed to question US citizens in return for access to 12 Russians indicted by the US over alleged hacking and election interference.
He also commented on the now-infamous meeting in the Oval Office between Trump and his national security team and Russian officials Sergey Kislyak and Sergei Lavrov, saying he did not know it was happening at the time but that it was “probably not the best thing to do”.