As Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns, yet another administration departure could be imminent.
President Trump has been telling confidants that he’s “eager” to remove Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Axios reported on Friday. In fact, Trump has reportedly been saying he’d like to get rid of the entire Office of the Director of National Intelligence — or at least “downsize” it, since he’s been told scrapping the whole office isn’t possible.
Trump, according to this report, has been talking about potentially removing Coats for months, and indeed, speculation that Coats could be fired previously swirled in February. CNN reported in January that Trump “seethed” and went on a “rant” after seeing Coats contradict him by telling Congress that North Korea likely won’t give up nuclear weapons capabilities. Axios cites a source as saying they got the impression from a recent discussion with Trump that Coats’ removal will happen “sooner rather than later,” with another source saying Trump “doesn’t listen to” Coats anymore.
As far as a replacement, Axios reports that Trump has been considering former National Security Council Chief of Staff Frederick Fleitz, who the report points out in January advocated for Coats’ firing on Lou Dobbs’ show, a favorite of Trump’s.
“I would let [Coats] go because of this,” Fleitz said on the Fox Business show following Coats’ North Korea testimony. “…Intelligence is to inform presidential policy. It’s not supposed to undermine it. It’s not supposed to second-guess presidential policy.”
Coats on Friday pushed back on what he called “unsubstantiated, false rumors” in a statement provided to Axios that is identical to the one given when NBC News reported earlier this year that Coats came close to resigning in 2018 and had to be talked out of it by Vice President Mike Pence. The vice president at the time reportedly convinced Coats to stay “until at least this summer.” Brendan Morrow