White House Targeting Top Intel Officials With Odd ‘List’ Request


The Trump White House is now possibly moving towards dumping a top intelligence official so they can replace them with someone more in line with Trump’s principles. The development comes soon after President Donald Trump announced that Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats would be stepping down within just a couple weeks or so. Although Trump had already said who he’s nominating to replace Coats (Republican Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe), that nomination has since been withdrawn and no one else is slated to be confirmed when Coats leaves. The person who is legally slated to become acting DNI in the meantime is career official and current Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon. The White House has asked for a list of all employees at the DNI office who are in the top pay grade and have served for 90 days or more — which is the pool the president could pick from should Gordon’s post become empty.

The Daily Beast notes:

‘Gordon, who has spent decades in the Intelligence Community, is revered there and on Capitol Hill. But as a career intelligence official, she isn’t viewed as Team MAGA. And the White House is reportedly eyeing ways to put someone they trust in the top role after Coats departs.’

The president has already established his tendency to reshuffle top intelligence community personnel so that the ranks can be full of people who like his ideology. His abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey helped kickstart the lengthy Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who picked up the probe after Comey.

In his Cabinet, he’s repeatedly replaced initial placating, politically savvy figures with those closer to his wishes for the egomanical way things are running now. His current national security adviser, for instance, is John Bolton, who’s noted for his attachment to strategies like forcing regime change overseas.

In the case of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Trump has already indicated that he’s hoping for some kind of reshuffling, putting the office’s key responsibilities under the thumb of his angry politics. He told reporters that he believes Ratcliffe could help “rein in” the intelligence community once confirmed for the role, and at the time, he left that threat of steamrolling over important community features rather open-ended. This same idea no doubt covers whoever Trump will nominate next, considering precedent.

Other occasions on which Trump has at least considered using a personnel shuffle to accomplish his wishes surround the Russia investigation. Rumors swirled for ages that Trump would be dismissing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and replace them with someone more willing to fall in line with their leadership of the probe — and now, they’re both out of the job and noted Trump defender Attorney General William Barr is in place. He’s already been found to have concealed key aspects of the Russia investigation from public view — lying, for instance, about the nature of conclusions surrounding presidential obstruction of justice — so prospects for the DNI office are grim.

Ratcliffe himself would have definitely been a political appointee. He has participated in Congressional GOP investigations of the intelligence community over furor over the Russia investigation, and just recently, he ranted and raved at Mueller during Congressional testimony in a high-profile moment that the president was happy with — although he allegedly picked Ratcliffe before that public meltdown of his.

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