US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had submitted his resignation. America's next head intelligence official will be chosen by President-elect Donald Trump.
In a Congressional hearing on Thursday, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper made clear that he would not stay on in his position after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office on January 20. Clapper said, however, he will remain in the role until the moment President Barack Obama leaves office.
"I submitted my letter of resignation last night," 75-year-old Clapper told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "I got 64 days left, and I think I will have a hard time with my wife for anything past that," he jokingly added.
Clapper had announced months earlier that he intended to step down when Obama departed. However, his formal letter of resignation followed a White House request asking that all Obama administration political appointees submit resignations before the new administration starts operating.
The director of national intelligence coordinates the work of 17 different government agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).
A conflicted tenure
Clapper said resigning "felt pretty good" after spending six years in the job. A retired Air Force lieutenant general with six decades of military and intelligence experience, Clapper's tenure as the US intelligence chief was, however, marred by a series of scandals.
In March 2013, Clapper said in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA had "not wittingly" collected any communications data from US citizens. However, months later, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents proving that the agency had swept up vast amounts data from US telecommunications providers. The data also showed how the US spied on its allies, especially France and Germany.
Clapper was subsequently accused of lying to Congress, leading to calls for his resignation. He later defended his testimony saying that his initial response to the Senate had been the "least untruthful" one he could provide at the time.
Big shoes to fill
The Reuters news agency reported that people close to Trump's transition team cited Robert Cardillo to be among the leading candidates to take over Clapper's job in the new administration. Cardillo is the current director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and a previous deputy director of national intelligence under Clapper.
Retired Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess and former Republican Representative Pete Hoekstra may also be in contention, according to Reuters.
ss/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)