Deputy intelligence director under Trump resigns

Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon is resigning from her post amid turnover at the top of the agency, President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE announced Thursday.

Trump added in a later tweet that National Counterterrorism Center Director Joseph Maguire will serve as acting Director of National Intelligence.

In a note accompanying her formal letter, Gordon wrote that she offered her resignation "as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference."

"You should have your team," she wrote, implying it was not her choice to move on.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I am confident in what the Intelligence Community has accomplished and what is poised going forward," she wrote in her letter. "Know that our people are our strength, and they will never fail you or the Nation. You are in good hands."

Gordon, a career intelligence official, was set to ascend to the top post as director of national intelligence following the departure of Dan Coats later this month.

But the White House had been weighing removing her in favor of installing a Trump loyalist, despite concerns from Capitol Hill, where Gordon is widely respected.

The move further throws into chaos the leadership atop DNI, which is tasked with overseeing the nation's various intelligence agencies.

Trump last month announced Coats would leave in mid-August and that he planned to name Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Acting director of national intelligence begins hiring freeze: reports MORE (R-Texas) to lead the agency. But Ratcliffe last week withdrew from consideration amid scrutiny of his record and concerns that he would be too partisan for the job.

The president told reporters last Friday that he likes Gordon and that she would be "considered" for the acting role.

“Sue will be there now and certainly she will be considered for the acting," Trump said.

He added he had three people he is considering for the permanent role of DNI, though he has not provided any names.

Bypassing Gordon for the role of acting director required her to leave or be removed from her current position, as the law states the deputy director should replace the director in the event of a change.

In a statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint MORE (D-Calif.) called Gordon's and Coats's retirements a "devastating loss" for the intelligence community.

"These losses of leadership, coupled with a president determined to weed out anyone who may dare disagree, represent one of the most challenging moments for the Intelligence Community," Schiff said. "It will be up to the Congress to ensure that the Intelligence Community continues to provide independent analysis and judgement to policy makers, and always speak truth to power."

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Hillicon Valley: Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed online | Google shares location data to counter virus | Dem senator pushes jobless benefits for gig workers | Twitter takes down 20,000 fake accounts MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed Schiff's remarks, praising Gordon and lambasting Trump over the intelligence officials' exits.

"President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views," he said. "The mission of the intelligence community is to speak truth to power; Yet in pushing out two dedicated public servants in as many weeks, once again the President has shown that he has no problem prioritizing his political ego even if it comes at the expense of our national security.

Bloomberg first reported on Gordon's departure, followed by The New York Times. Below is Gordon's letter of resignation.

 

Updated 8:40 p.m.