Jul 19, 2019

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

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

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Trump to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as DNI

Rep. John Ratcliffe questions former special counsel Robert Mueller as Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Twitter Sunday that he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, confirming Axios' earlier reporting that Ratcliffe was favored for the job. Coats will leave office on August 15.

Behind the scenes: Trump was thrilled by Ratcliffe's admonishment of former special counsel Robert Mueller in last week's House Judiciary Committee hearing. "The special counsel's job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump's innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him," Ratcliffe, a former prosecutor, said to Mueller.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 28, 2019

Read National Intelligence director Dan Coats' resignation letter

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

National Intelligence director Dan Coats resigned Sunday and will leave office on Aug. 15, after a somewhat tumultuous relationship with President Trump, per Axios' Jonathan Swan — who first reported news of the departure. Read Coates' resignation letter to Trump below.

Go deeper: Trump to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as DNI

Keep ReadingArrowJul 29, 2019

Trump says DNI nominee Ratcliffe will "rein in" intelligence agencies

Ratcliffe questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller on July 24, 2019. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump said on Tuesday that he believes the U.S. intelligence community has "run amok," and that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), his controversial nominee to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, would "rein it in."

Why it matters: Ratcliffe, who defended Trump and "downplayed the threat posed by Russia" at former special counsel Robert Mueller's hearing last week, is not well-known by many Republican senators or trusted by Democrats, per Politico. Democrats worry that as a "relentless critic of the Russia investigation," Ratcliffe would turn the director of national intelligence into a partisan position, in addition to lacking the necessary experience for the nation's top intelligence job, the NYT reports.

Keep ReadingArrowJul 30, 2019