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President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

  • Coates could take on a senior role under Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, the former deputy secretary who was elevated to lead the department in December after Rick Perry's departure.
  • A decision on such a personnel move has not been finalized and discussions could still fall apart, one source tells Axios.
  • "We do not comment on personnel matters," National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot told Axios. Coates declined comment.

Driving the news: As Politico first reported, Coates has been the target of a whisper campaign in recent weeks making a circumstantial case that she was the identity behind an op-ed in the New York Times and later a bestselling book describing a resistance movement against President Trump in his own White House.

  • One of the literary agents behind Anonymous' book, "A Warning," went so far as to release a statement saying explicitly that Coates is not the author, did not edit the book, did not see it in advance and did not know about it.

Between the lines: Coates' potential reassignment comes as Trump, fresh from acquittal in his impeachment trial, institutes personnel moves to bring early loyalists back into the White House and tests purges of staff he considers disloyal throughout the federal government.

  • Coates was an original member of Trump's national security team, having been brought in during the transition by Trump's first NSA, Michael Flynn.

Don't forget: Coates has strong working and personal ties to the Energy Department. She advised Perry in his 2012 presidential campaign and regularly coordinates with the department in her NSC role on issues including sanctions and oil and LNG supplies and touching on Iran, Iraq and the Gulf region.

Go deeper

Biden blindsides Europe with new AUKUS alliance on China

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden is constructing and deepening new alliances to strengthen the U.S. position in its showdown with China, but he risks alienating longstanding allies in the process.

Why it matters: Biden heralded a new agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the U.K. and the U.S. as an "historic step" to update U.S. alliances to face new challenges. The message from French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was quite different.

Trump voices support for Saturday's pro-Capitol riots rally

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Thursday expressed solidarity with people facing prosecution in connection to the Capitol insurrection.

Why it matters: The statement was issued ahead of Saturday's rally to protest the treatment of Capitol rioters. Over 600 known federal defendants face charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Clinton-linked lawyer indicted in investigation of FBI's Russia probe

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

A grand jury has returned an indictment against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer whose firm represented the 2016 Clinton campaign, for lying to the FBI about not representing "any client" when he presented them with allegations about a secret Trump Organization back-channel to a Russian bank.

Why it matters: It's the second criminal charge stemming from special counsel John Durham's review of possible misconduct by the intelligence community and prosecutors who investigated the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia.