Trump replacing intelligence chief Dan Coats with Texas congressman

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will depart the administration in mid-August, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Sunday.

The president said that Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, will be nominated to replace Coats.

“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump tweeted. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”

Axios was first to report on the impending change. NBC News, The New York Times, ABC, and CNN confirmed the news.

Ratcliffe’s upcoming nomination follows the congressman’s sharp questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller during his congressional testimony last week.

Coats, a former Indiana senator, had not seen eye-to-eye with Trump on issues like Russian electoral interference and the president’s past blasting of the intelligence community. Administration officials told NBC News in March that Coats considered resigning last year over the rift but Vice President Mike Pence convinced him to stay on.

Ratcliffe, a staunch ally of the president from a deep-red district, won accolades among the president’s allies for his questioning of Mueller, which included the lawmaker saying “nowhere does it say that [the special counsel was] to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him.”

“I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not,” Ratcliffe said. “But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report puts him.”

Critics of Ratcliffe’s answer noted that Justice Department guidelines state that a special counsel should, upon conclusion of an investigation, provide a report “explaining the prosecution or declination decisions.”

Coats was famously caught off guard last year when he appeared to have first learned about a potential visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell.

“Say that again?” Coats asked Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum event, adding, “That is going to be special.”

In January, Trump criticized his top intelligence officials after they presented their assessments of global threats — which were at odds with his own views.

Trump tweeted: “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”