Dan Coats to Step Down as Intelligence Chief After Strife With Trump


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, on the other hand, did not hold back, saying that Mr. Ratcliffe was clearly “selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning” of Mr. Mueller and that his confirmation “would be a big mistake.”

Mr. Coats, 76, who represented Indiana in the House and Senate for 24 years and served as ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush, had been an important link between the Trump administration and the Republican establishment. With Mr. Coats gone along with other figures like Jim Mattis, the first defense secretary, and Nikki R. Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, the president increasingly is surrounded by loyalists.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s grip on the Republican Party has only strengthened, demonstrating that the establishment needs his support far more than he needs its. To Mr. Trump, Mr. Coats had come to represent the disapproving Republican elite that he scorned, and his frustration with his intelligence director spiked again during spring weekends at his club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to people who spoke with him at the time.

Mr. Coats had long been expected to depart of his own accord, an administration official said, but ended up remaining to avoid seeming as if he was forced out. The president asked him in February to stay longer, but in last week’s meeting with Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. Coats said he was ready to leave. Mr. Coats finished his resignation letter a week ago and submitted it on Sunday, effective Aug. 15, according to a person familiar with its drafting.

From the start, Mr. Coats maintained independence from Mr. Trump. He was vocal in defending intelligence agencies and their assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf, and he emphasized those findings leading up to the president’s meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland, in 2018.

At a security conference in Aspen, Colo., soon after that meeting, Mr. Coats expressed surprise about reports that Mr. Trump could invite Mr. Putin to the White House. “That is going to be special,” he said in a notably unguarded moment.

Aides to Mr. Trump seized upon that to suggest that Mr. Coats was disloyal and should be fired. But he was shielded by Mr. Pence, a longtime protégé and former governor of Indiana.



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