CIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report
CIA Chief Gina Haspel threatened to resign over talk that President Trump would make Kash Patel, a loyalist to the president and former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), deputy director of the agency, Axios reports.
Three top Trump administration officials familiar with the plan claim that the paperwork that would have formalized Patel’s position in the CIA had been finalized in early December.
The plan came as speculation was swirling over whether Haspel would be fired, which was further fueled by her absence at the president’s daily intelligence briefings.
Haspel attended such a briefing on Dec. 11, during which her performance reportedly caused Trump to change his mind. By then, word had already spread and Haspel had been made aware of the possible appointment, according to Axios.
Once Haspel caught wind of Trump’s plan, she threatened to leave the agency.
Axios reports that the idea to name Patel as CIA deputy arose from Trump’s growing distrust of Haspel over the last year. Trump figured that if he forced out current CIA Deputy Director Vaughn Bishop and replaced him with Patel, Haspel would resign, therefore making Patel the CIA’s acting director, according to Axios.
The sources familiar with the exchange at the president’s intelligence briefing on Dec. 11 said a number of White House senior aides encouraged Trump not to go through with the Patel’s appointment, trying to re-instill Trump’s confidence in Haspel, Axios reports.