President Trump announced on Twitter today that he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence.
Coats, one of the reasonable voices left in the Trump cabinet, will leave office on August 15.
Coats had rankled Trump more than once with his public comments.
He angered Trump when he appeared to criticize Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an on-stage interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at last year’s Aspen Security Forum.
And he drew Trump’s ire again in January when he told a Senate panel that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting the president’s cheerier assessments.
Trump’s evident hostility and distrust of his own intelligence agencies made Coats’ job as director arguably one of the most politically fraught in Washington.
His departure is just the latest in the churn among the President’s most senior officials.
Coats, a former ambassador and Republican senator from Indiana praised for his bipartisan professionalism, stepped into the job leading US spy agencies and serving as the President’s principal adviser on intelligence in March 2017.
Vice President Mike Pence was one of Coats’ closest allies as the two men shared a long history dating back to their time in Congress.
“I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country,” Trump tweeted today. “The Acting Director will be named shortly.”
Trump was thrilled by Ratcliffe’s admonishment of former special counsel Robert Mueller in last week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.
But while Ratcliffe’s performance in the Mueller hearing helped his chances for the DNI appointment, it wasn’t what put him on the president’s radar.
Advisers to Trump said the president was already seriously considering Ratcliffe to replace Coats.
Trump had previously shortlisted Ratcliffe to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general before he ultimately chose William Barr.
The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman was the first to report that Ratcliffe was in the mix to replace Coats as DNI.
And CNN reported that Ratcliffe was under consideration for an unspecified job in the administration.
Trump has been mulling replacing Coats since at least February.
The director of national intelligence serves as an overseer of the U.S. intelligence community and a close adviser to the president and National Security Council, producing each day’s top-secret Presidential Daily Brief.
Trump has privately said he thinks the Office of the Director of National Intelligence represents an unnecessary bureaucratic layer and that he would like to get rid of it.
He has been told that eliminating the ODNI is not politically possible, but he would still like to “downsize” the office, the source said.