Spy chief James Clapper resigns

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The nation’s top intelligence official on Wednesday evening submitted his letter of resignation, ensuring that President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMark Cuban: My political future 'depends on how things play out' Biggest challenge to Keystone XL not political but economic Bannon encouraged Sessions to run for president before meeting Trump: report MORE will have the option to build his own network of intel leaders.

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“I submitted my letter of resignation last night, which felt pretty good,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday morning. “I have 64 days left and I would have a hard time with my wife for anything past that.”

Clapper has long promised to leave his job at the end of President Obama’s term in office, so his resignation was expected.

Still, the formal resignation brings the longtime intelligence official’s government career to a close and leaves a key vacancy for Trump to fill.

Trump has yet to announce several national security nominations and appointments, but there is widespread speculation about multiple candidates.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee and a member of Trump’s transition team, has been floated as a possible pick to lead the CIA or replace Clapper.

Another possibility is former Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-Mich.), who previously served on the Intelligence panel.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, one of the president-elect's earliest supporters, is one other name who has been floated for several national security roles in the Trump administration, though it is unclear whether he could receive confirmation by the Senate. Instead, he is reportedly at the top of Trump’s list for national security adviser, a role that does not require Senate approval.

On Thursday, two lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote to Trump urging him to quickly nominate a successor to Clapper.

“A successful [director of National Intelligence] makes the intelligence community more efficient, more collaborative, limits redundancies, and advances seamless information sharing across our intelligence agencies,” Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Angus KingAngus KingUnder pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senate intel panel has not seen Nunes surveillance documents: lawmakers MORE (I-Maine) wrote to Trump.

“Most importantly, if selected early, your DNI could advise on candidates for directors of the intelligence agencies he or she will work with most often.”

The position was created in the years following Sept. 11, 2001, as part of a massive government shakeup to break down walls between different intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI.

Clapper is the fourth-ever U.S. director of National Intelligence.

He took the helm overseeing 17 intelligence agencies in 2010 and served throughout the majority of Obama’s presidency. His tenure was marked by the revelations of Edward Snowden, whose leaks about U.S. intelligence shook up the community like nothing in a generation.

He had previously spent more than 30 years in military intelligence positions and leading the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.  

Updated at 10:43 a.m.