Updated Aug 8, 2019

Trump names Joseph Maguire acting director of national intelligence

In this image, Trump stands outside in a suit and tie and faces reporters.

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon will leave her position on Aug. 15 along with outgoing director Dan Coats, President Trump confirmed in a tweet Thursday evening.

The latest: Trump announced on Thursday that National Counterterrorism Center Director Joseph Maguire will serve as the next acting DNI director starting Aug. 15.

Catch up quick on Trump's tweets:

"Sue Gordon is a great professional with a long and distinguished career. I have gotten to know Sue over the past 2 years and have developed great respect for her. Sue has announced she will be leaving on August 15, which coincides with the retirement of Dan Coats. A new Acting Director of National Intelligence will be named shortly."
"Admiral Maguire has a long and distinguished career in the military, retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2010. He commanded at every level, including the Naval Special Warfare Command. He has also served as a National Security Fellow at Harvard University. I have no doubt he will do a great job!"

Why it matters: Under federal statute, Gordon — who is widely respected in the intelligence community — was automatically supposed to assume the role of acting director upon Coats' departure. However, Trump never intended to pick her, and she dropped off a resignation letter at the White House on Thursday afternoon, sources tell Axios' Jonathan Swan.

The big picture: Trump's initial pick to replace Coats — Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) — withdrew after it became clear that Democrats and some Senate Republicans had concerns about his partisan record and lack of experience. The media also discovered that Ratcliffe "had exaggerated his role in terrorism and immigration enforcement cases when he served as a federal prosecutor in Texas," per the Washington Post.

  • A source tells Axios it was only after Trump announced Ratcliffe that aides really scrambled to do a vulnerability assessment on their DNI candidate — an episode that captures the way the Trump White House often operates when it comes to nominees.
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