In resignation letter, DNI Dan Coats highlights ‘threats against our elections’

By | July 29, 2019

In his letter of resignation, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, writes:

I am pleased with the accomplishments the ODNI and the broader Intelligence Community have achieved. We have established a shared vision called IC 2025 and focused our initiatives to ensure that the Intelligence Community is best positioned to address the continuing evolution of threats facing our nation. I have ensured that we have the capabilities necessary to protect against those who would do us harm, including through reauthorization of Section 702 authority, establishment of an election security executive to support the whole-of-government effort to address threats against our elections, reforms to the security clearance process, and improvements to our budget processes. I have overseen the selection of new, extremely capable leaders across the IC, and within the ODNI, have transformed its focus, structure, and integration efforts to ensure you have the best, most timely, and unbiased intelligence possible.

The New York Times reports:

In a speech to intelligence officers in January, Mr. Coats said it was their duty to seek the truth about the world. “And when we find that truth, to speak the truth,” he added.

With the departures from the administration at the end of 2018 of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Coats was one of the last establishment senior national security figures in the Trump administration.

But in recent months, Mr. Coats discovered that even as he tried to stick to factual assessments of national security threats, it was difficult to align himself with the president.

There was no greater point of friction between the men than Russia. Time after time, the White House has sought to weaken Mr. Coats’s language regarding the Kremlin.

Mr. Coats argued for a view of Russia as an adversary and pushed for closer cooperation and stronger ties with traditional American allies in Europe, nations that have been the focus of Mr. Trump’s ire as he sought closer relations with Moscow and wavered on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

A secret report by Mr. Coats about Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections contained a harsh assessment about Russia’s efforts to influence the American public by stoking conspiracy theories, inflame positions and polarizing the American population. But the public statement released by Mr. Coats’s office and edited by the White House contained little of the tough language.

The Atlantic, reporting on Trump’s choice of Republican Representative John Ratcliffe to replace Coats, notes:

Ratcliffe, a vocal skeptic of the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, won headlines for his aggressive questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller during the latter’s testimony before Congress last week. Ratcliffe accused Mueller, in essence, of denying Trump due process, declaring that the president was not above the law “but he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law.” That display of partisanship directly precedes his nomination for a job that is supposed to be apolitical.

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