President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Sunday that National Intelligence Director Dan Coats would be stepping down on Sunday and that conservative Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) would be nominated to take his place.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “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 and Coats had been butting heads, with the president choosing to believe what he heard on Fox News rather than believe the intelligence community’s assessments about North Korea’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons, Iran’s continuing compliance with Obama’s nuclear deal and Russian interference in American elections.
The New York Times reported that their disagreements were “reignited” during recent trips to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. But Vice President Mike Pence, the Times said, had been protecting Coats. Both men are from Indiana, which Coats represented as a senator and where Pence served as governor.
This clip, from 2018, with Coats and NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, tells you all you need to know about Trump’s relationship with the now former director:
Still the best Coats moment:
MITCHELL: The W.H. has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the W.H. in the fall.
COATS: Say that again?
MITCHELL: Vladimir Putin, coming to the—
COATS: Did I hear you?
MITCHELL: Yeah, yeah.
COATS: OK. That's gonna be special. pic.twitter.com/FJndAwZjf6
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 28, 2019
Coats’s replacement, Ratcliffe, was one of the members of Congress who questioned Robert Mueller during his testimony, accusing the prosecutor and former FBI director of violating the special counsel regulations and “the most sacred of traditions of prosecutor,” taking issue with Mueller’s reporting on potential crimes committed.
“You wrote 180 pages about… potential crimes that were not charged or decided,” Ratcliffe said. “Now respectfully, by doing that you managed to violate the most sacred of traditions of prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that are not charged.”
He added, “You didn’t follow the special counsel regulations. It clearly says write a confidential report about decisions reached. Nowhere in here does it say write a report about decisions that were not reached.”
Soon, he could be the leader of the American intelligence community.