Newly released note reveals Trump just forced out a top official to circumvent a law he doesn't like

Newly released note reveals Trump just forced out a top official to circumvent a law he doesn't like
Susan M. Gordon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, provides recommendations and comments during the 2nd National Space Council meeting at the John F. Kennedy Space Center Space Shuttle Processing Facility, Florida, Feb. 21, 2018. The council met to discuss and hear testimony about the importance of the U.S. space enterprise. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that in addition to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stepping down, his deputy, Sue Gordon, is also leaving the administration.

She resigned her post on Thursday in a letter to the president, and she included a note attached to the letter released by the White House — it's unclear yet if it was intentionally made public — that made clear she was being forced out:

Mr. President –

I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team.



In other words, she doesn't want to leave, but she's resigning because the president doesn't want her in place.

And why not? Most urgently, it seemed, Trump wanted her out because of the line of succession in the office. With Coats leaving on Aug. 15, Gordon would automatically become the acting director. Professor Steve Vladek of the University of Texas School of Law has argued that because of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Trump would have had to accept Gordon as the acting director were she to remain in her job. But Trump wants his own "team," as Gordon said, and with her out, he has more flexibility about who he can appoint.

"Among other things, this clears the way for [Trump] to name as Acting DNI _any_ current Senate-confirmed Executive Branch officer, or a range of other senior officials currently serving in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence," Vladeck explained on Twitter," Vladeck explained on Twitter.

Trump has repeatedly said he likes to have "acting" rather than Senate-confirmed Cabinet members because it gives him more "flexibility." What this seems to mean, though, is that it gives him more power over these people in precarious positions who owe their jobs only to him — while cutting the Senate out of its constitutional role.

Vladeck added: "Gordon is not being pushed out because she is bad at her job; she’s being pushed out because [Trump]  doesn’t want her to become Acting DNI on Aug. 15–even though he has yet to say who he does want. Legally, it’s his prerogative, but it’s still wrong on multiple levels."

After Vladeck's tweets, Trump did announce his pick to become the acting director:


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