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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

Updated 29 mins ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump dogs "dull" DeSantis ahead of potential 2024 matchup

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Donald Trump is trashing Ron DeSantis in private as an ingrate with a "dull personality" and no realistic chance of beating him in a potential 2024 showdown, according to sources who've recently talked to the former president about the Florida governor.

Why it matters: The two are among the most popular Republicans in the country, and as the former president eyes another run in 2024, he's irked by DeSantis' popularity and refusal to rule out running against him.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy.
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker