NSA Chief Mike Rogers Could Be Removed From Post Over Performance Concerns

Reports come as Trump considers Rogers for DNI post

Adm. Michael Rogers testifies on Capitol Hill / AP

Senior defense and intelligence officials have recommended to President Obama the removal National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers from office over concerns of his performance, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The proposal, put forth by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, was delivered to the White House last month and comes as President-elect Donald Trump considers Rogers for a senior intelligence post in his administration, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night.

Obama declined to comment on the reports Sunday, but called Rogers a "terrific patriot" during a news conference at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru.

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Administration officials told the Washington Post that the removal has been delayed because part of the recommendation from Carter and Clapper includes the controversial move of separating the commands of the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command, both of which are headed by Rogers.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Rogers was the leading candidate to succeed Clapper as head of the DNI, which is tasked with overseeing all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In an unusual move, Rogers traveled to New York City on Thursday to meet with Trump without notifying superiors.

Neither Rogers nor the Trump transition team have commented on the meeting.

The White House was expected to begin separating the agencies by Dec. 1, but that date was moved up to Oct. 1 in an effort to expedite the shift. That plan was paused after opposition from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.).

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) wrote a letter to Carter and Clapper demanding an explanation of their concerns about Rogers.

"Since Admiral Rogers was appointed as NSA Director in April 2014, I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments," Nunes said. "His professionalism, expertise, and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem."