James Clapper

US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has submitted his letter of resignation, he has told a congressional panel.

He told the House Intelligence Committee that "it felt pretty good".

His resignation comes as the Trump administration mulls its direction on national security matters.

According to NBC News, Clapper's tenure in office was marked by high profile showdowns over the government's desire to protect its Americans and citizens' civil liberties.

In a 2013 interview with Andrea Mitchell, Clapper said he gave the "least untruthful" response to a complicated question when it came to his tense March 2013 exchange with Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden over whether the NSA gathers "any type of data at all on millions of Americans."

Clapper, during that exchange, responded "No," and "not wittingly."

In a profile published by Wired magazine only hours before his announcement, he said that he never questioned the morality of his profession.

In his role, he has often been in the position of defending the National Security Agency (NSA), just one of the covert agencies that his office oversees.

Its image was badly damaged after Edward Snowden revealed how they collect information on American citizens.

"Everybody needs to take a deep breath," a DNI spokesperson tells NPR. "Clapper is resigning effective January 20. He will finish out his term. This is not a move designed to register protest or a lack of confidence in the incoming administration."

Analysts believe the 75-year-old top American spy had been expected to step aside and is sending a signal to the Trump administration that they must now speed up the transition, BBC reports.

"I submitted my letter of resignation last night which felt pretty good. I've got 64 days left," he told the committee, indicating that he would stay on in the post until President Barack Obama leaves office.

Committee members jokingly asked him to stay for four more years.

Clapper has authority over 17 different agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the (Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

More than 107,000 employees report to him with a combined budget of over $52 billion (£41.8 billion).

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