WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is replacing the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, with a Texas congressman who led the assault against Robert Mueller in the former special prosecutor’s recent congressional testimony.
The departure of Coats, 76, a former Indiana senator, removes another of the dwindling voices of independent analysts within what normally is considered the top tier of presidential advisers.
Coats follows Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, and H.R. McMaster — secretary of state, defense secretary and national security adviser, respectively — out the door as Trump’s original national security squad.
“As we have previously discussed, I believe it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Coats wrote to Trump, in a letter released to the media Sunday. “Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation effective August 15, 2019.”
Trump made the announcement of Coats’ departure on Twitter earlier Sunday.
The director of national intelligence, the formal name for the post held by Coats, was created after the 9/11 attacks to better coordinate intelligence-sharing among different agencies. Trump has on occasion suggested eliminating the position.
In January, Coats and other intelligence leaders described a world of threats and opportunities that sharply diverted from Trumps’ statements on the same issues. Trump complained in tweets about that testimony.
To replace Coats, Trump selected Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a former U.S. attorney. The three-term Republican serves on the House Intelligence Committee and has a 100% rating from the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“You managed to violate every principle in the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra-prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged,” Ratcliffe said to Mueller during Wednesday’s hearing.
Ratcliffe appeared on Fox News Channel Sunday morning, before his nomination was announced, and said it is time to investigate the roots of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“What I do know, as a former federal prosecutor, is it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration,” he told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“We talked earlier about Michael Flynn. His phone call with the Russian ambassador was a highly classified NSA intercept. Someone in the Obama administration leaked that call to the Washington Post. That’s a felony.”