Trump told confidants he had bigger plans for Patel: He’d force out CIA Deputy Director Vaughn Bishop, replace him with Patel, and if Haspel quit in protest, then Patel or another loyalist would lead the CIA…
After the briefing ended and Haspel had left the room, Trump asked a small group of his senior aides what they thought about Haspel. Pence delivered a full-throated defense, calling the CIA director a patriot, praising her job performance and trying to reassure Trump that she had his back. Cipollone had also repeatedly defended Haspel to the president.
Trump abruptly switched course, deciding to call off the plan to install Patel. But there was one glitch: Just down the hall in the chief of staff’s office, Meadows had already told Haspel that Patel would be taking Bishop’s job.
Haspel responded with the flinty aggression she was renowned for. She said she wouldn’t stand for it, and that she would resign before allowing Patel to assume a position as her deputy.