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Dan Coats hires first U.S. "elections threat executive"

In this image, Dan Coats looks forward.
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies in 2018. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has hired Shelby Pierson, a career intelligence official, as the first U.S. "elections threats executive within the intelligence community," NPR reports.

Why it matters: FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned Washington in April about Russia's "continued meddling in American elections" and called it a "significant counterintelligence threat," the NYT reports. In Friday's announcement, Coats said he is directing other agencies to appoint their own elections threat executives.

The state of play: "Trump views any discussion of future Russian interference as effectively questioning the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, prompting senior officials to head off discussions with him," writes the NYT.

  • When former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen grew "increasingly concerned about Russia's continued activity" in the U.S. during the 2018 midterms, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney "told her not to bring it up in front of the president," per the NYT.

The catch: President Trump has told confidants he's eager to remove Coats from his position, according to 5 sources who discussed the matter directly with the president, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:

  • Trump would like to "downsize" the ODNI, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Go deeper ... Report: U.S. is underestimating Putin's "grand strategy" for Russian dominance