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US deputy intelligence director is out after Trump meeting

Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, will leave her position following a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Gordon's boss, Dan Coats, has announced he would resign effective Aug. 15. Gordon would have been next in line to serve as acting director in the position, the nation's highest-ranking intelligence professional, until the Senate confirmed Trump's choice for a permanent replacement.

Several Trump allies outside the White House had urged the president to remove Gordon, a career intelligence officer, describing her as too close to former CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan has publicly criticized Trump's leadership, and the president in turn has called him "the worst CIA director in our country's history."

Trump had told reporters Friday that he liked Gordon "very much" and said he might appoint her acting director.

But after House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, praised Gordon last month, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, "If Adam Schiff wants her in there, the rumors about her being besties with Brennan and the rest of the clown cadre must be 100% true."

Trump's first choice to replace Coats, Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, withdrew from consideration following public scrutiny of his qualifications for the job and his combative questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller at a House hearing.

It's unclear whom Trump is considering for director of national intelligence, but he has recently spoken with Fred Fleitz, a former chief of staff for the National Security Council. Rep. Devin Nunes advised Trump on possible selections but isn't under consideration himself, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Administration officials also have discussed former Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra for the position, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Trump has indicated he wanted a political loyalist to take charge of the nation's intelligence community, regarded by some of the president's allies and supporters as a "deep state" intent on undermining him. Attorney General William Barr has opened an investigation of what he has said was "spying" on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

 

"We need somebody strong that can really rein it in," Trump said last month. "Because as I think you've all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok."

Gordon's departure may heighten concern among some lawmakers of both parties that the intelligence agencies are increasingly vulnerable to political interference.

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence panel that will act on an eventually nominee to replace Coats, sent a signal of support for Gordon last month.

"I'm heartened by the fact that ODNI has an experienced and capable leadership team to help see it through this transition," Burr said in a statement at the time.

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