Dan Coats testifies on worldwide threats during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. File photo/ AFP
US intelligence chief Dan Coats will leave office next month, Donald Trump announced on Sunday, after a tenure in which he was regularly at odds with the president.
The departure of Coats — who has, however, sought to avoid direct confrontation with Trump during his time as Director of National Intelligence — is the latest high-profile exit from the mercurial president’s turnover-plagued administration.
Trump tweeted that Coats will leave on Aug.15, saying he plans to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas, who serves on the House intelligence, judiciary and homeland security committees, to replace him.
“A former US Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves,” Trump wrote, also thanking Coats “for his great service to our Country.”
If Ratcliffe’s nomination is approved, Trump will get an intelligence chief who is more in synch with his views.
In Congress, he has been a staunch defender of Trump and has criticized two of the president’s nemeses, former FBI chief James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Ratcliffe has also said he has “seen no evidence” that Russian election meddling helped bring Trump to office, has backed the president’s assertion that court-approved surveillance of his campaign amounted to spying, and has supported his hawkish policy on Iran.
The choice of Ratcliffe was hailed by various Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who tweeted that he “will bring strength and accountability in his new role” — but drew criticism from other quarters.
“Our Director of National Intelligence should be above partisan politics, speak truth to power, and resist Trump’s abuses of authority. John Ratcliffe doesn’t fit that bill,” Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren tweeted.
Coats has not seen eye-to-eye with Trump on a range of issues while serving as the official who oversees and coordinates the CIA, NSA and other US espionage bodies.
Russia, North Korea, Daesh
He backed the US intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election that brought Trump to office — something the president was long loath to acknowledge.
The intelligence chief also disagreed with Trump’s decision to hold two hours of closed-door talks with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Helsinki in July 2018 with no one else present but interpreters.
“If he had asked me how that ought to be conducted, I would have suggested a different way,” Coats said.
He acknowledged he was not informed about the contents of the talks, saying three days after they were held: “I don’t know what happened in that meeting.”
Trump’s attempts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal via talks with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un was another point of disagreement.
“We continue to assess that North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and production capabilities, even as it seeks to negotiate partial denuclearisation steps to obtain key US and international concessions,” Coats said in the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report earlier this year.
North Korea’s leaders see having a nuclear weapons capability as “critical to regime survival,” Coats said.
Trump, however, has taken the view that Kim is willing to give up his nuclear arms.
The report also warned that Daesh — despite Trump’s assertions to the contrary — was hardly vanquished and could easily rise again in a vacuum left by departing US forces, resuming global attacks and restarting its propaganda machine.
Daesh “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks, and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses,” Coats said.
Coats’s departure will be the latest in a long series of exits by top Trump administration officials, including defense secretary Jim Mattis, homeland security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, chief of staff John Kelly and top diplomat Rex Tillerson.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump are expected to hold a summit at the United Nations this month, Moon’s office said on Friday, amid hopes for a restart of talks aimed at dismantling
North Korea carried out its third weapons test in eight days on Friday, according to the South’s military, but US President Donald Trump said he had “no problem” with the spate of launches by Pyongyang.
Long known as a law-and-order prosecutor, Attorney General William Barr is under fire from critics who say he acted more as a partisan advocate for President Donald Trump than an impartial law enforcement officer when he released the special counsel report into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
A Thai Airways International jet headed to Bangkok accidentally hit an Eva Airways plane headed to Taipei at Haneda airport and the runway was subsequently closed and some flights were delayed, the reports said.
For China, which is behind the CPEC projects in the region, this trilateral cooperation would go a long way to ensure that security threats are addressed for these projects to be completed, The News reported.
If the parties fail to observe the ceasefire, "facilitators will be compelled to consider adjourning the Jeddah talks", the US and Saudi joint statement added, referring to negotiations to try to end almost two months of clashes in Sudan.
Sheikh Shakhboot Bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State, participated in the Global Coalition Against Daesh Ministerial Meeting held in Riyadh and led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.