Ethics–Dan Coats’ Fatal Flaw

According to Axios, Trump is planning to dump Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence.

President Trump has told confidants he’s eager to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, according to five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the president.

The state of play: Trump hasn’t told our sources when he plans to make a move, but they say his discussions on the topic have been occurring for months — often unprompted — and the president has mentioned potential replacements since at least February. A source who spoke to Trump about Coats a week ago said the president gave them the impression that the move would happen “sooner rather than later.”

Despite finding him personally pleasant, I have never been a fan of Dan Coats, for reasons  not relevant to his performance in his current position. I always saw him as a nice enough man with whom I had substantial policy disagreements. A co-worker of mine said it best, many years ago, when Coats was first running for Senate: “I’d vote for him for neighbor, but not Senator.”

In the Age of Trump, however, Coats has been a star of sorts– an ethical standout among the swamp creatures that populate this appalling administration. Unlike Bob Barr, he hasn’t twisted facts to fit a political agenda. Unlike those on Trump’s Cabinet, he isn’t trying to destroy the agency he leads. Unlike the feckless Senate Republicans, he hasn’t remained silent when the President’s lies have misrepresented reality.

According to Axios

The big picture: Coats has rankled Trump more than once with his public comments, according to sources with direct knowledge.

He angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an on-stage interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at last year’s Aspen Security Forum.

He drew Trump’s ire again in January when he told a Senate panel that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting the president’s cheerier assessments.

There have been unsubstantiated reports that Coats previously had to be talked out of resigning; whatever the accuracy of those rumors, he has responded to what appears to be an intentional leak aimed at undercutting his effectiveness:

In a statement provided by the ODNI, Coats said, “I am focused on doing my job, and it is frustrating to repeatedly be asked to respond to anonymous sources and unsubstantiated, often false rumors that undercut the critical work of the Intelligence Community and its relationship with the President. I am proud to lead an IC singularly focused on the vital mission of providing timely and unbiased intelligence to President Trump, Vice President Pence and the national security team in support of our nation’s security.”

Trump has made it quite clear that he has no interest in the receipt of “timely and unbiased intelligence,” and that he sees no value in the ODNI itself.

As usual, Juanita Jean’s blog had the best snark:

Trump is now saying that he’s eager to fire Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, then eliminate the position altogether.  That fits, right?  Because if there is one word that doesn’t describe Trump, it’s intelligence.

So true.


  1. “Trump has made it quite clear that he has no interest in the receipt of “timely and unbiased intelligence,” and that he sees no value in the ODNI itself.”

    The man is only being honest, give him a break. He controls his domestic opponent’s intelligence capacity, so Dan Coats is nothing more than a nuisance.

  2. I to have disagreed with Dan on several issues but that’s been my opinion with every elected official in my lifetime. But had Dan Coats not became a US Senator he would not be in the critical position he is in today, so often times when electing a candidate their integrity, honor and dedication to our nation is far more important than their stance on any one or two political issues.

  3. Another interesting commentary pointing out things that anyone can see is a problem. Trump wants people on his team, if Coats has been silent on the issue and pointed out directly to Trump his disagreement he’d still be there next year.

  4. i never thought I would see the day I would stand up FOR Dan Coats but the Trump administration has caused insights and adjustments to many of my previous values. Juanita beat me to the punch with her comment that Trump doesn’t understand any issue relating to intelligence. For Trump to be planning to change leadership of our National Intelligence Department is but his ongoing revolving door of appointees; the danger lies in the possibility of his eliminating the position, leaving us with the question of status of the entire Department of National Intelligence which appears to be a threat to Trump’s ego and self-proclaimed “rational genius” status. Will McConnell support this action as he has all other idiotic actions and statements from Trump; in both his rally rants and unending threatening Tweets?

    How is the entire Republican party and all of their White Nationalist supporters missing the disastrous results of this one man, with McConnell ignoring democracy, Rule of Law and the entire Republican administration’s refusal to maintain their oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America? The UK has now openly stated the obvious connection between the Iran capture of their liner and Trump’s ending the Iran Pact. His actions are now impacting our closest ally and bringing us closer to nuclear disaster. Who will make the preemptive strike? The strong support of Dan Coats as Director of our Department and National Intelligence is vital at this time and Trump has only campaigning for the 2020 presidency election on his daily agenda.

  5. Marv- they finally got Al. And it took them six tries to finally get John Gotti. The vulgarian’s time is coming.

  6. I wonder if the republican senators will ever reach a breaking point with trump’s destructive moves. Is it possible that they might put their foot down when his narcissism would endanger our national security to a point of no return?

    So far, they seem to be willing to allow him to destroy anything and everything that he desires to.

  7. Marv,

    Re “How is it that Trump remains an “untouchable” in the same category as Al Capone?”

    Even Capone had cronies who were willing to die for him. They enjoyed having power over others even if it created extreme danger for them and their families.

    You just clearly pointed out that the majority of elected republicans in DC are members of a criminal gang.

  8. “Who needs an IC when you are as smart as Trump?” LOL

    Let Ivanka plan her dad’s safety when he leaves the WH. If Dan can do it, any half-wit can handle the position, including Trump himself.

    Have you seen the latest meme showing all the people who have departed the Trump administration?

    It’s a big meme with lots of faces – Dan will be one in many. Makes you wonder why Trump keeps listening to the same people recommending the hiring pool. It’s like, “Who are you asking for references?”

    As it stands now, the DNC is looking to give Trump another four years which is good for blog writers but not so good for our country. As long as the upper echelon has theirs…

  9. If he fires Coats and doesn’t replace him, that will just be another of the agencies without leadership. Agency directors are not permanent positions, but they usually get 4 years on the job. At least, whoever becomes President in January 2021 won’t have to ask for many resignations, as there may not be any confirmed Cabinet members left, except Bill Barr.

    BTW, if you’re waiting for the Republicans in the Senate to stand up to him, you can forget about that altogether. If they refuse to stand up to his overt racism, they are either too cowardly or they agree with his statements. Either way it’s not good for the country.

  10. Nancy,

    Mobsters like Capone, Trump, et al PAY OFF their opposition. That’s how they remain in power. Having been both a state and federal prosecutor I should at least know that.

    Let’s take Trump for a current example. Remember the SPLC/ADL “Intelligence Reports” that have been mentioned previously on this blog. Where have they gone? It couldn’t be a financial problem with those two, since they have raised close to a billion dollars. Obviously, No one can compete with them. So what is it?

    I’m ALMOST sure Trump’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has nothing to do with it. I wonder what else it could be?

  11. In the past, we have had numerous cases where professional athletes have taken bribes.

    Now, we have something new with Trump, the possibility of a WHOLE TEAM taking a bribe.

  12. Have you all been watching TV the past few days? Trump is now not only the defender of Israel, but also of American Jews. This is quickly becoming surreal. In the weeks to come, the Germans are going to be completely off “the historical hook.”

  13. Trump simply has no idea how incompetent and corrupt he is because he’s lived a life devoid of thought and supported only by the egoistic and monetary gifts from his father.

  14. Marv; I just received my Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Summer 2019 magazine; their new report format.

    Nancy, your comment responds to my rhetorical question, how can Republicans miss the disastrous results of Trump, “So far, they seem to be willing to allow him to destroy anything and everything that he desires to.” We know they are not missing any of his White Nationalist actions, inaction, threats and outright mentally unbalanced destruction of our government and our daily lives…the question is WHY? Question number one for me iremains WHY was he their nominee to begin with? Could the GOP hatred of President Barack Obama actually lead them to deliberately destroy this nation “to get even”? But “to get even” with who, for what and again, WHY? The one remaining actively thinking and acting Republican will soon be gone; will Dan Coats OR his position be replaced?

  15. Standing against Trump and for our country creates strange bedfellows. “Cheering Dan Coats” would never have, in my wildest dreams, been on my list of things to do.

  16. JoAnn,

    I haven’t read the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Summer 2019 magazine. What do they say about Donald Trump and the Republican Party, after using all their investigative expertise, that can help us get out of this mess? Maybe I’m just all wet.

  17. JoAnn,

    “Marv; grab a beach towel!”

    That was a smart comeback. However, tell us what they have said that we don’t already know. You’ve been defending them the past four years that I’ve been participating in this blog. Please tell us.

  18. LOL. Now we have Marv the prosecutor teaching us all how to interpret the law and the news. How many posts today, Marv?

  19. Vernon,

    I surrender. I will never say another word on this blog. All anyone needs to do is read your book and receive a copy of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Summer 2019 Magazine. Right?

    P.S. Your book is outdated.

  20. Prepare for worse things to come if a despot like trump is elected again. Don’t plan anything for your future.

  21. Don’t plan for a great future under trump. I think he hates America and wishes to destroy it.

  22. Coats, like McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Paul Ryan among others were or are collaborators. The ascendancy of candidate Agent Orange to the Presidency gave the GOP unprecedented power in 2016. President Agent Orange gave the bible thumper’s a loud voice in the WH that suited their ambitions to pack the courts and brought in Betsy De Vos, the champion of school privatization and theocracy.

    The collaborators receive what they want access to power to achieve their goals of lower taxes for the 1% and large corporations, destruction of environmental protections for the people, and the protection of steroid capitalism.

    The evangelicals have their champion in President Agent Orange. They ignore his flaws because the ends justifies the means.

    The GOP elected officials of the Raygun era welcomed the bible thumping evangelicals into positions of influence. The GOP had always been Right Wing Capitalists, now they acquired the Reactionary Right Wing (Neo-Confederates), the bible thumper’s and later the Tea Party. All the while Right Wing Reactionaries thundered on the radios across the country, the truth or facts were dismissed and replaced by blind belief. The Bushes were not suitably aggressive, neither was McCain or Romney.

    Someone more extreme was needed to reflect what the GOP had become- Enter Candidate Agent Orange.

    Why would the GOP stand up to President Agent Orange??? Candidate Agent Orange was the culmination of the extreme, he became the logical expression of the GOP in the millennial era. There are no moderate Republicans, you have the collaborators, who will back Agent Orange to the hilt – Agent Orange is the Republican Party. Do not forget it.

  23. Monotonous; Dan Coats is beginning to fit the possible position as “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Trump’s threats; always eventually carried out, will come to pass regarding the Director of National Intelligence and we don’t know if there will continue to be that position to be filled by another “Acting” Director…or if the Department will be maintained. Coats must still be of some use to Trump or he would be gone; Coats must believe he still maintains enough power to confront Trump in that position or he would have removed himself.

    Just guesswork at this time; many distractions in Trump’s path, maybe Coats isn’t shiny enough to warrant attention. Coats is in a vital position due to our tenuous diplomatic relations with all of our former strong international alliances at this time.

  24. Juanita’s snark is amusing, but the situation is not. Trump may have little use for intelligence, but he and his handlers for damn sure understand the value of propaganda, and they for damn sure understand the value of suppressing inconvenient facts by politically capturing the administrative offices that control the dissemination of those facts.

    It sounds like Coats’ great failing (from Trump’s viewpoint) is this: He is a man who achieved a position of power and trust on his own, not just by being an unquestioningly loyal member of Trump’s fascist faction, and therefore is not trusted by Trump and his handlers to unquestioningly back Trumpian powergrabs or overtly unConstitutional actions, or to unquestioningly stamp the imprimatur of US intelligence on whatever invented, distorted, or selectively “stovepiped” allegations Trump and his handlers want to use for political purposes.

    I expect that Trump’s plan is to replace him with yet another unvetted, unconfirmed “acting” flunky who can be trusted to be a loyal fascist, no matter what, and to say whatever his handlers tell him to say, putting whatever credibility the American intelligence agencies still have solely and squarely in the service of Trumpism. The “acting” stooge will also be tasked with blocking and suppressing all information or findings that are contrary to the interests of The Leader.

    The replacement of confirmed, competent, at least somewhat trustworthy administrators and officers with “acting” political toadies who answer to no one but Trump has become a pattern, and it is not an accident. With the complicity of the Republican majority in the Senate, Trump has effectively abolished the Constitutional requirement that Cabinet appointees be vetted and confirmed by the legislature. The US government has become a cabinet of “acting” Trump stooges, vetted by no one, owing loyalty and obedience to no one but the would-be dictator and whoever is pulling his strings behind the scenes. This has become the “new normal”, and it is extremely dangerous, especially in positions that control intelligence and law enforcement.

    An unvetted, unconfirmed “acting” Trump stooge in control of US intelligence agencies, owing no loyalty but to the man who appointed him and can dismiss him on a whim, could convert those agencies into Trump’s own KGB, manufacturing, misrepresenting, or selectively edit their “findings” purely in the service of Trumpism. Think of the Bush Iraq War, where distorted and outright false information was blared to the world in support of the war that Cheney wanted. Now imagine that applied to everyone whom Trump deems a foreign or domestic political opponent. Imagine the identities and locations of US intelligence assets whose information is inconvenient to Trump, or Putin, or the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, being supplied on demand, without question, to anyone who wants to make those sources disappear. Or simply being disappeared by US agencies themselves– hasn’t Trump talked enviously about the ability to do just that?

    Oh, the intelligence services aren’t supposed to meddle with domestic politics? I’m sure Bill Barr’s Justice Department and a Senate committee appointed by Mitch McConnell will get right on that!

    This is one more screaming siren in a night that is becoming steadily louder with sirens, firebells, klaxons, and… is the the approaching sound of helicopters and marching feet?

  25. id put my bet that mcconnel is using flack again to cover some shit up. euro style media is being attacked by the wealthy,here,and abroad. seems the great hack docu,via netflicks is under billionaire attack,to stop.cambrigde anyl.from being aired,gee,i wonder what the issue is? (see guardian arron banks,and also how bolton has sucked in Britton into his iran web) somehow im believeing that theres really a upset in trumps game,but the religious right is also into influencing power in the euro countries. god fleesing for the right wing, couldnt get anymore lower. id watch the god fleecers message,and ask wheres it going now$ .. though its euro, theres a march for right wing politics,and putin needs all the help he can get for influence for the web heads who cant get enough of trumps slush,in the 2020 wishes

  26. This won’t help his job security.

    CBS News July 19, 2019:

    “Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced on Friday the creation of a new, senior-level position within the intelligence community whose focus will be on coordinating its election security efforts.

    The announcement comes amid recurrent warnings by U.S. officials that adversaries and competitors – including Russia, China and Iran – are likely to attempt to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.”

  27. Thank you Sheila,

    We are currently dealing with a perfect storm of abject stupidity in regard to our country’s national security. We have a President that doesn’t read nor listen, we have a National Security Adviser whose notions regarding what he supposedly advises on border on being maniacal. We do not have a fulltime and confirmed Secretary of Defense and we have a Secretary of State whose own personal ambitions and sycophancy compromise the importance of what he is supposed to be doing every day.

    Now we have Dan Coats’ job as DCI on the chopping block because he rightfully indicated on live television the incoherence of the total farce of a Presidential Administration that he serves in. Personally, I thought at the time of the creation of Coats’ current position was an unnecessary additional level of bureaucracy but given that Trump doesn’t listen to anyone on virtually anything it’s likely imperative that this position remains in the national security hierarchy so that someone other than John Bolton has Trump’s ear potentially and I stress potentially.

    There have to be seasoned individuals in these positions, preferably ones that are rational and can also talk truth to power whether Trump likes that are not. They also have to be willing to resign on principle just as former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis did earlier this year. We can look back and all the grave errors this country has made in regard to both its foreign policy and its national security policy by studying Trump’s former national security adviser H.R. McMasters’ very fine book on the origins of the Vietnam War titled “Dereliction of Duty”. Even though it describes the mistakes of honorable men who worked under a dishonorable President, one nowhere close to being as bad as the current occupant of the White House, it shows how things can go very, very wrong when people know that this nation is on the wrong track and do not resign due to principle to public sound the alarm bell.

    Our alliance partners are most likely terrified by what is emanating out of Washington in regard to our foreign policy and our adversaries are licking their chops. We have the wrong man at the helm which should be abundantly clear to any one that has any inkling or interest in the subjects and every day this perfect storm continues the greater the risks we run will be.

  28. Well…it took a week but you called it: Coats is out.
    The catastrophe that is our current government continues, the Well gets deeper, the stench…
    As an immigrant with American citizenship I no longer feel safe.

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