US Intelligence Chief to quit office

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US Intelligence Chief to quit office

WASHINGTON - US intelligence chief Dan Coats will leave office next month, Donald Trump announced on Sunday, after a tenure in which he was regularly at odds with the president.

The departure of Coats — who has, however, sought to avoid direct confrontation with Trump during his time as Director of National Intelligence — is the latest high-profile exit from the mercurial president's turnover-plagued administration.

Trump tweeted that Coats will leave on August 15, saying he plans to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas, who serves on the House intelligence, judiciary and homeland security committees, to replace him.

"A former US Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves," Trump wrote, also thanking Coats "for his great service to our Country".

If Ratcliffe's nomination is approved, Trump will get an intelligence chief who is more in synch with his views.

In Congress, he has been a staunch defender of Trump and has criticised two of the president's nemeses, former FBI chief James Comey and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ratcliffe has also said he has "seen no evidence" that Russian election meddling helped bring Trump to office, has backed the president's assertion that court-approved surveillance of his campaign amounted to spying, and has supported his hawkish policy on Iran.

The choice of Ratcliffe was hailed by various Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who tweeted that he "will bring strength and accountability in his new role" — but drew criticism from other quarters. -APP/AFP