Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell abruptly announced his retirement on Wednesday, and a White House lawyer will take over the second-highest-ranking position at the spy agency.
“Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the ‘real reason,’” Morell said in a statement. “But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that.”
Morell will remain in his post until Aug. 9.
His replacement, Avril Haines, is now deputy assistant to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council. It’s an atypical pick in that Haines is an outsider without deep ties to the nation’s top spy agency.
“She has participated in virtually every deputies and principals committee meeting over the past two years and chairs the lawyers’ group that reviews the agency’s most sensitive programs,” CIA Director John Brennan said. “In every instance, Avril’s command of substance, sense of mission, good judgment, and keen insights have been outstanding.”
Morell served as acting director of the CIA when then-Director David Petraeus resigned last year following revelations about an extramarital affair. Earlier this year, President Obama tapped Brennan, rather than Morell, to lead the agency.