Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats repeatedly found his warnings about the threat posed by Russia suppressed by the White House, The New York Times reported Sunday amid his resignation from the post.
According to The Times, Coats has often found himself at odds with President Donald Trump over Russia, a situation that worsened in recent months.
Coats saw Russia as an adversary to the US, The Times wrote, and pushed for closer cooperation with European countries to counter it, but the White House did not agree.
Several times Coats saw his language on the Kremlin’s activities watered down by the White House, according to The Times.
A secret report by Coats on Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2018 midterms by spreading disinformation was reportedly altered by the White House. A public statement on Coats’ conclusions contained less critical language than the original, The Times said.
A former senior intelligence official told The Washington Post that Coats felt marginalized on national security issues by the president and had come to see his departure as inevitable.
According to reports, Trump had been discussing replacing Coats for months.
Trump has long faced scrutiny for his warm comments on Russia and his changing positions on whether Russia interfered to help him secure his 2016 election victory.
Robert Mueller concluded in the special counsel’s Russia investigation that there was insufficient evidence to charge the president or his aides with criminally conspiring with Russia in 2016.
Trump in a tweet Sunday announced that Coats would step down in mid-August and nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas as his replacement.
In his tweet, he thanked Coats for his service but offered him no praise.
“The intelligence community is stronger than ever and increasingly well prepared to meet new challenges and opportunities,” Coats wrote in his resignation letter, citing the recent appointment of an official charged with countering foreign election interference.
During his time as director of national intelligence, Coats had publicly contradicted Trump on the president’s claims regarding Russia and North Korea.
In a statement released after Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2018, Coats rebutted the president’s apparent acceptance of Putin’s claim that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 election.
At a national security conference in Colorado last year, Coats reacted with incredulity when told Trump had invited Putin to the White House at the summit.
“That’s going to be special,” he remarked.
And in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, Coats contradicted Trump’s claims that North Korea no longer posed a threat because of his summits with its leader, Kim Jong Un.