Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had to be talked out of quitting the administration in December over frustrations with President Donald Trump, according to a new NBC News report.
According to administration officials who spoke to NBC on condition of anonymity, Vice President Mike Pence intervened when Coats signaled he was going to quit over frustrations with Trump’s abrupt announcement to withdraw troops from Syria. While Coats agreed to stay on until the summer and his relationship with Trump has stabilized to some degree, the news corroborates previous reports of tension between the two because of their differences on foreign policy and U.S. intelligence work.
Back in 2017 when Trump claimed that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him, Coats reportedly grew annoyed with 45 because of his short attention span, smears against the FBI, and his disregard for Coats’ repeated assurance that he wasn’t wiretapped.
“It was a recurring thing and began early on,” a senior administration official told NBC. “You could tell that Coats thought the president was crazy.”
Other elements of frustration came when Trump apparently expected Coats to conjure proof and make a public statement on his questionable claims that U.S. intelligence is biased against him. What’s more, Trump and his intelligence chiefs have contradicted each other on matters like ISIS, North Korea and Russia over the past year.
The issue that prompted Coats’s December frustration, the withdrawal from Syria, was at the heart of James Mattis‘ departure, when he resigned as Secretary of Defense amid disputes with Trump.
In a statement, Coats did not explicitly deny NBC’s reporting, but called it “frustrating”:
“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.”
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