Trump met with Nunes to discuss potential replacements for Dan Coats: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE reportedly met with Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America MORE (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, to discuss possible replacements for Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE.

Politico, citing three people familiar with the meeting, reported on Monday that Trump met with Nunes and a group of senior White House officials last week about potential figures who could replace Coats.

The meeting came as speculation grows about whether Coats will depart from his leadership role in the intelligence community. Axios first reported earlier this month that Trump told confidants he was thinking about replacing him. 

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A senior White House official later told CNN that there has been some discussion about Coats departing from his position. Coats has dismissed the reports, telling The Hill that the "rumors" are "frustrating.

Politico noted that Trump's allies have promoted multiple candidates to replace Coats, including Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst who once served as chief of staff to national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonSchumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord Why President Trump must keep speaking out on Hong Kong Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE

Some inside the intelligence community have pushed for Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, to be considered. 

Trump's meeting with Nunes is noteworthy given the Republican lawmaker's views on intelligence issues. Like Trump, he has accused those inside the intelligence community of improperly using their authority for political purposes. 

One member of Congress told Politico that because of this similarity, he considers Nunes a candidate to replace Coats. 

“The president would certainly consider Devin Nunes for the director’s position, and I eventually see him serving in some capacity in this administration,” an unnamed U.S. lawmaker said, adding that he's only seen Nunes work toward reelection in Congress. 

The prospect of Nunes, who served on Trump's presidential transition team, being considered for intelligence chief has sparked anxiety in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), a person with direct knowledge told Politico. 

Nunes faced scrutiny for his conduct as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee during Trump's first two years in the White House. Among other things, he launched an investigation into surveillance abuses by the FBI and Justice Department during the Obama administration. 

In February 2018, he released a classified memo alleging abuse of government surveillance powers by the Justice Department after receiving authorization from Trump. The Justice Department strongly objected to its release. 

Trump has repeatedly heaped praise on the GOP lawmaker. He said in March that Nunes would someday "be hailed as a great American hero."

Nunes and the White House did not provide comment to Politico. The White House and Nunes's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

The ODNI also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.