The New York Times has reported that Trump’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is expected to step down in the coming days, with Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe — an outspoken supporter of the president — as Trump’s top pick to replace him. Minutes after the NYT story hit, Trump confirmed via Twitter that he has nominated Ratcliffe to the nation’s top intelligence post overseeing America’s seventeen intel agencies.
….be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
Admin officials close to the matter said Coats spent his time as DNI clashing with Trump over issues ranging from Russian meddling and US-Moscow relations to the president’s well-known attacks on members of the intelligence community.
Coats’ own criticisms and public contradictions of Trump had at times reportedly sent the president to privately rant against the former Indiana senator and diplomat in front of White House staff, especially when during congressional testimony early this year the media gleefully seized upon Coats’ words to point out glaring policy contradictions among Trump’s cabinet.
Coats had told Congress at a sensitive and stalled point in White House-North Korea dialogue that Pyongyang was unlikely to ever “completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities” — words which had angered Trump.
Coats has also been deeply critical of Trump’s meetings Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past, which the Times report notes as follows:
Mr. Trump has weighed firing Mr. Coats since he took issue with the president’s assertions, after a 2018 meeting in Finland with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, challenging the intelligence community’s conclusions that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential race. Mr. Coats also questioned the wisdom of a potential White House meeting between the two leaders.
Some of the president’s political advisers have encouraged him to oust Mr. Coats, but he had been shielded by Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime protégé. Mr. Coats served as a senator from Indiana, and Mr. Pence was the state’s governor.
Also interesting is that during a July 2018 interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Coats was informed of plans for the White House to invite Putin to Washington, something which never materialized.
“Say that again?” a visibly perplexed Coats had asked NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the time. “OK. …That is going to be special,” he said sarcastically. This and other instances reportedly set Trump off and assured Coats’ days as DNI were numbered.
As for Rep. Ratcliffe, now slated to replace Coats, the loyal Trump ally had publicly slammed Mueller and his politically charged investigation during last week’s testimony.
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