US director of national intelligence to step down

Trump announced that Dan Coats will step down on August 15 and be replaced by Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe.

Ben Ariel ,

Dan Coats
Dan Coats

US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Dan Coats will step down as the director of national intelligence on August 15 and will be replaced by Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe.

“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence. A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will 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,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Axios first reported Coats' expected departure.

Coats, a former senator, spent his tenure in the administration at odds with Trump, helming a constellation of over a dozen agencies that the President has publicly mocked, ignored and dismissed, noted CNN.

A former senior intelligence official who worked with Coats said he did not believe there was any single national security issue that he was regularly dealing with that brought him to a point where he was ready to step down, but instead likely just felt it was time to move on. "This isn't a lifetime appointment," the former official said.

Trump and Coats never forged a particularly close relationship, according to the report, and the President has time and again voiced frustrations about Coats, telling advisers that he considered Coats in line with other top officials who have sought to restrain him like former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and former White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Trump appeared most irritated by Coats' assessment on North Korea. Last year, Coats said that, while it is technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program within a year, it was not really likely to happen. The comments contrasted the President's assertion that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will move toward giving up his nuclear weapons.

In July 2018, in perhaps his most public rift with Coats and the intelligence community, Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin and publicly said he doubted US spies' assessment that Russia had tried to interfere in the election, declaring that Putin had vigorously denied it.

Coats afterward issued a statement reiterating the conclusion that Moscow had indeed worked to sway the election results. Shortly afterward, while onstage at a conference, the intelligence director was visibly surprised by an announcement that Trump was planning on inviting Putin to Washington.

"That's going to be special," Coats quipped. He later apologized and said he had not meant to be disrespectful.