- President Trump has discussed replacing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats with Fred Fleitz, president of the far-right Center for Security Policy (CSP) think tank, reported Politico.
- Trump has reportedly soured on Coats, who has been critical in the past of the president’s interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- Fleitz has faced criticism for his writings and comments on Islam, and was one of the authors of a 2015 study that called for Americans who advocated for Sharia law to be stripped of their citizenship.
- Speaking to Business Insider Tuesday, Fleitz denied that the CSP is anti-Islam, saying he believes the majority of Muslims in the US “want to live in peace with the rest of the world and the rest of America.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump is in discussions to replace National Security Director Dan Coats, with the president of a think tank which has been labelled a “hate group” for spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories among the possible replacements, Politico reported Tuesday.
Trump has discussed replacing Coats in discussions with Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, three people party to the discussions told the outlet.
Among the names that have reportedly been discussed as a replacement are controversial former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP).
The CSP is a far-right think tank that has been labelled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights nonprofit, which has described it as a “conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.”
Fleitz denies this accusation. Speaking to Business Insider Tuesday he said: “I think the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. They reject radical Islam. They want to live in peace with the rest of the world and the rest of America.”
“They add a great deal to American society and the American experience. And I’m not going to tolerate or condone any kind of prejudice or discrimination against them.”
The White House immediately responded to a request for comment on Politico’s report.
Fleitz has in articles for the think tank and interviews expounded on his controversial views on radical Islam.
He was one of a number of authors who in a 2015 CSP paper called for “shariah-adherent advocacy and practices as legal premises for deportation and stripping of American citizenship” and claimed that 80% of US mosques “have been shown to be shariah-adherent and promoting jihad.”
He distanced himself again Tuesday, telling Business Insider: “This is a report with 12 co-authors – before it was published I had a chance to look at the report, I had a number of things taken out of it and I had no idea some of the things were in it.”
In a Breitbart interview in 2017 in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, Fleitz expounded on his views on Islamic integration into society.
He said that “I’m not concerned about Amish or Jewish communities, but I will tell you that there are enclaves of Muslim communities in Michigan and Minnesota that concern me.”
He continued: “The problem with these Muslim communities is that it is making them susceptible to this radical worldview that wants to destroy modern society, create a global caliphate, and impose sharia law on everyone on Earth. These other communities aren’t trying to do that. They’re peaceful religious communities.”
Fleitz is a long-term ally of hawkish National Security adviser John Bolton, serving as his deputy on the National Security Council before leaving the position after seven months to become president of the Center for Security Policy last October.
He has previously expressed support for Bolton’s hardline policies on Iran.
The director of national security oversees US intelligence agencies and personally briefs the president on national security threats, with Coats’ current deputy Sue Gordon reportedly among the other front-runners for the role.
It’s not the first name Fleitz’s name has been mentioned in connection with the role, with news outlets reporting that he was being considered earlier in July.
Rumours have long circulated that Trump is mulling sacking Coats, a former US ambassador and Republican senator from Indiana.
Coats reportedly attracted Trump’s ire in 2018 when he issued a rebuke to claims Trump made in his 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The president appeared to accept Putin’s claims Russia had not interfered in the 2016 election over the evidence of his own intelligence agencies.
Trump has long been accused of stoking anti-Islam prejudice. In recent days he has launched a series of attacks on Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, who he has groundlessly accused of backing terrorists.