The country’s intelligence chief was on the verge of resigning at the end of last year over his frustrations with President Donald Trump but was talked out of it by his closest ally in the administration, Vice President Mike Pence, current and former senior administration officials told NBC News.
Among the many tensions the officials said have marred the relationship between the president and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was Trump pushing Coats to find evidence that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him.
But the tipping point for Coats came in December with Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, and the contentious departure of former Defense Secretary James Mattis after protesting the policy, according to the current and former officials. The vice president, who has repeatedly played the role of envoy between Trump and Coats, convinced his longtime Indiana friend to stay until at least this summer, the officials said.
In a statement to NBC News, 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.”