The director of national intelligence had to be talked out of resigning by Vice President Mike Pence, according to current and former senior Trump administration officials.
Daniel Coats, who oversees U.S. intelligence agencies, nearly quit over President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops from Syria, which also drove out former Defense Secretary James Mattis, but Pence talked his longtime Indiana friend into staying until at least this summer, reported NBC News.
The relationship between Coats and the president has been strained after Trump accused him of leaking classified information, pushed him to publicly criticize the U.S. intelligence community as biased and demanded he find evidence that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him.
Trump privately calls Coats “Mr. Rogers,” but Pence has encouraged the president to stick with him and has urged the intelligence chief to remain on the job.
Officials say Trump sees intelligence professionals as advisors he’s free to ignore, but Coats has publicly pushed back against the president for standing by Russian president Vladimir Putin and siding with his denials of election interference.
“I am focused on doing my job,” Coats told NBC News, “and it is frustrating to repeatedly be asked to respond to anonymous sources and unsubstantiated, often false rumors that undercut the critical work of the Intelligence Community and its relationship with the President. I am proud to lead an IC singularly focused on the vital mission of providing timely and unbiased intelligence to President Trump, Vice President Pence and the national security team in support of our nation’s security.”
A spokesperson for Pence declined to comment.