U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would nominate Representative John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who strongly defended him at a recent congressional hearing, to replace Dan Coats as the U.S. spy chief.
Coats, the current U.S. director of national intelligence who has clashed with Trump over assessments involving Russia, Iran and North Korea, will step down on Aug.
15, the president said as he announced his decision on Twitter.
"A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves," Trump said, thanking Coats "for his great service to our Country" and saying that an acting director will be named shortly.
The post of director of national intelligence, created after the Sept.
11, 2001 attacks on the United States, oversees the 17 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.
Ratcliffe, a member of the House of Representatives intelligence and judiciary committees, defended Trump during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday about his two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice.
Ratcliffe is a former U.S. attorney and mayor of Heath, Texas, a Dallas suburb.
He also worked at a law firm run by former attorney general John Ashcroft, a Missouri conservative.
Ratcliffe joined Congress in 2015 after defeating a longtime incumbent and some Republican Party leaders had pushed for him to be named U.S. attorney general last year after Trump ousted Jeff Sessions from that role.
The congressman helped lead a congressional investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers and former FBI director James Comey's decision not to recommend criminal charges against her.
Sources familiar with the recent history of congressional oversight of the intelligence community said they were not familiar with any particular accomplishments or history that would qualify Ratcliffe for the DNI position.
Coats, who has served as director of national intelligence since March 2017, clashed with his boss early on, taking a hard line toward Russia that sharply contrasted with the conciliatory approach Trump pursued toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In January, Coats told Congress North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting a statement by Trump that Pyongyang no longer posed a threat.
Coats also told lawmakers that Iran had continued to comply with a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers that Trump abandoned in May 2018.
The next day, Trump complained on Twitter about "passive and naive" U.S. intelligence leaders, suggesting they "go back to school!"