In the span of just a week, President Donald Trump announced the departure of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, named Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to replace him, and then announced Ratcliffe’s withdrawal from consideration for the post. Although by statute the principal deputy DNI Sue Gordon would automatically assume the acting DNI role, the president has implied—more than once—that he may seek to install someone else. Reports of tensions between Trump and Gordon and a White House request for a list of senior employees at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) have added to the mystery. And the answer matters: Trump’s next DNI will likely control the process for briefing his 2020 opponent.
The above excerpt was originally published in Just Security.
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