August 20, 2019
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No. 2 intelligence leader resigns; Trump taps counterterrorism chief

Office of the Director of National Intelligence | AP
Office of the Director of National Intelligence | AP
This image provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows deputy national intelligence director Sue Gordon. President Donald Trump says Gordon has announced she is leaving her position.

WASHINGTON – Sue Gordon, a career intelligence official who serves as the deputy to the director of national intelligence, will resign Aug. 15, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Thursday.

Gordon’s exit will allow Trump to choose an official to take her place and serve in an acting capacity as the nation’s top intelligence official.

Trump said he will name Joseph Maguire, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had been discussed in recent days as a possible replacement to Gordon, according to U.S. officials.

“Sue Gordon is a great professional with a long and distinguished career. I have gotten to know Sue over the past 2 years and have developed great respect for her,” Trump wrote.

Trump had intended to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, as the director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats, who is resigning the same day as Gordon. But Ratcliffe’s potential nomination collapsed amid bipartisan criticism about his lack of national expertise and allegations that he padded his résumé as a former federal prosecutor.

In her letter of resignation, Gordon emphasized her years of experience and praised intelligence agency employees. Trump has repeatedly assailed U.S. intelligence agencies and derided their conclusions when they conflict with his.

“I am confident in what the Intelligence Community has accomplished, and what it is poised to do going forward,” Gordon wrote. “I have seen it in action first-hand. Know that our people are our strength, and they will never fail you or the Nation. You are in good hands.”

Gordon has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., had said he wanted her to serve as the acting director.

Burr praised Gordon, but didn’t signal that he would oppose Maguire as the acting director.

“Sue Gordon’s retirement is a significant loss for our Intelligence Community,” the senator said in a statement. “In more than three decades of public service, Sue earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues with her patriotism and vision. She has been a stalwart partner to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and I will miss her candor and deep knowledge of the issues.”

Trump was reluctant to keep Gordon, regarding her as part of a career establishment of which he has long been suspicious, according to officials with knowledge of the president’s views.

Congressional Democrats said Trump has pushed Gordon out as part of a plan to bring the intelligence agencies to heel.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is seemingly incapable of hearing facts that contradict his own views,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“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,” Warner said.

“The retirements of Dan Coats and Sue Gordon represent a devastating loss to the Intelligence Community, and the men and women who serve in it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

“Gordon brought decades of experience and encyclopedic knowledge of the agencies to bear, and her absence will leave a great void. 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.”


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