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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump has told confidants he's eager to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, according to five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the president.

The state of play: Trump hasn't told our sources when he plans to make a move, but they say his discussions on the topic have been occurring for months — often unprompted — and the president has mentioned potential replacements since at least February. A source who spoke to Trump about Coats a week ago said the president gave them the impression that the move would happen "sooner rather than later."

  • The director of national intelligence serves as an overseer of the U.S. intelligence community and a close adviser to the president and National Security Council, producing each day's top-secret Presidential Daily Brief.
  • A source with direct knowledge told me that Trump has privately said he thinks the Office of the Director of National Intelligence represents an unnecessary bureaucratic layer and that he would like to get rid of it. He has been told that eliminating the ODNI is not politically possible, but still would like to "downsize" the office, the source said. 
  • A government source who has discussed the matter with Trump characterized the president's thinking this way: "It's time for a change. Dan's a great guy but the president doesn't listen to him anymore."
  • A White House official responded: "We have no personnel announcements at this time."

The big picture: Coats has rankled Trump more than once with his public comments, according to sources with direct knowledge.

  • He angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an on-stage interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell at last year's Aspen Security Forum.
  • He drew Trump's ire again in January when he told a Senate panel that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting the president's cheerier assessments. 

The other side: In a statement provided by the ODNI, Coats said, "I am focused on doing my job, and it is frustrating to repeatedly be asked to respond to anonymous sources and unsubstantiated, often false rumors that undercut the critical work of the Intelligence Community and its relationship with the President. I am proud to lead an IC singularly focused on the vital mission of providing timely and unbiased intelligence to President Trump, Vice President Pence and the national security team in support of our nation’s security."

  • Coats previously served for 16 years as a senator from Indiana — a tenure bookended by a stint as the U.S. ambassador to Germany during George W. Bush's administration.
  • He's also close with Vice President Mike Pence, a fellow Hoosier. (The above statement from Coats was originally provided by the ODNI in response to an NBC News report in March that Pence had talked Coats out of resigning.)

What's next: One potential replacement Trump has mentioned to multiple sources is Fred Fleitz, who formerly served as chief of staff to national security adviser John Bolton. 

  • Fleitz was previously a CIA analyst and a staff member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently the president of the Center for Security Policy.
  • Trump has told people that he likes Fleitz and has "heard great things." Fleitz has publicly criticized Coats and even called for Trump to fire Coats on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business program after Coats' Senate testimony. Fleitz accused Coats of undermining and "second-guessing" the president.

Go deeper: Dan Coats says he wishes Trump took a different approach in Helsinki

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
9 mins ago - Health

The end of the Omicron wave is in sight

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Omicron wave is likely beginning to recede in the U.S., experts say.

Why it matters: Omicron is still wreaking havoc in parts of the country, but infectious disease experts are optimistic that relief is around the corner.

NASA estimates Tonga volcano exploded with force of 5-6 megatons

A satellite image of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Dec. 24, before the eruption. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

NASA scientists estimate the power of Tonga's volcanic eruption over the weekend to have been 5-6 Megatons of TNT equivalent.

Threat level: Saturday's eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Haʻapai volcano and subsequent tsunami killed at least three people. Scientists warn an "ash-seawater cocktail" poses a potentially toxic health threat, and drinking water could be contaminated.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."