President Obama is considering removing Admiral Mike Rogers as head of the National Security Agency, according to multiple news reports.
It was first reported Saturday that top intelligence officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have expressed “frustration” at Rogers’ handling of the fight against ISIS and at the repeated loss of classified information from within the agency.
Rogers, a career intelligence official who was appointed to his post two years ago, is under consideration by President-elect Donald Trump for a number of positions in his administration, including director of national intelligence.
Officials with knowledge of the situation told the New York Times that Mr. Obama’s potential removal of Rogers is not related to the fact that Mr. Trump is considering him for his administration.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, defended Rogers in a letter to Clapper this weekend, saying members of Congress “hold him in high esteem.”
“I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” Nunes, who is a member of Trump’s transition team, wrote to Clapper. “His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA.”
Initially, the Post reported, Rogers was expected to be removed before Election Day but as part of a broader restructuring of the NSA’s leadership, which would have split the NSA from the new Cyber Command branch. At that point, Mr. Obama would have appointed an acting NSA director who would appoint his own replacement.
However, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona) opposed the move and threatened to block any new nominee for the post if the NSA and Cyber Command were split.
Rogers also made headlines recently by speaking candidly about Russia and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“There shouldn’t be any doubts in anybody’s mind: This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” Rogers said at a Wall Street Journal election forum on Tuesday. “This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
Rogers is most likely referencing Russia, since U.S. officials have already openly accused Russia of hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s internal email server in July