Imagine my (non)surprise to hear that Dan Coats is “stepping down” from his job as director of national intelligence in the Donald J. Trump administration.
The president has made damn few appointments that I could endorse. Coats was one of them. Coats, a former Indiana U.S. senator House member, is an establishment Republican with valuable political contacts/friendships/alliances in Washington, D.C. He served as a key bridge between the renegade president and the political pros who run things on Capitol Hill.
He also is a serious policy hound who knows how to walk through the maze of government mumbo-jumbo.
Coats also had some run-ins with the president, who you’ll remember challenged the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They performed with evil intent to help Trump get elected. Trump, of course, sided with Russian strongman Vlad Putin and denigrated the intelligence network’s diligence on the matter.
Coats was at the center of that dispute.
I hate that the administration is losing a seasoned pro like DNI Dan Coats. Trump says he’ll nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — a staunch Trump supporter on Capitol Hill — to succeed Coats.
Trump called Ratcliffe a “highly respected” member of Congress, a former U.S. attorney. The president also reportedly was impressed by the way Ratcliffe grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller III during Mueller’s marathon testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees — of which Ratcliffe is a member … of both panels.
Coats, to my way of thinking, ranks alongside former Defense Secretary James Mattis as among the more stellar Trump appointments. Mattis bolted after quarreling with the president. Now it’s Coats who is leaving, reportedly for the same reasons.
Hmm. What’s the common denominator? Oh, gosh! It must be the president of the United States.