Dan Coats Announced as Trump's Pick for Director of National Intelligence
Indiana Senator Dan Coats speaks briefly with the press following his meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, New York, USA, 30 November 2016AALBIN LOHR-JONES / POOL / EPA
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President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to serve as national intelligence director, his transition team announced Saturday.
Coats, would need to be confirmed by Senate for the role, served eight years in the House of Representatives and two years in the Senate. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as U.S. ambassador to Germany.
“I’m very confident that Senator Dan Coats is the right choice to serve as Director of National Intelligence,” President-elect Trump said in a statement. “Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community.”
As director of national intelligence, Coats would serve as the head of the United States’ intelligence community and be the president’s principal adviser on the issue.
Coats will succeed James Clapper, who recently testified in front of Congress that Russia had stepped up its cyber espionage operation in an attempt to undermine the election. A redacted report about the hack and its goals was released on Friday.
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First elected to the Senate in 1990 in a special election that filled the seat vacated by Dan Quayle — who departed the Senate to serve as George H. W. Bush’s vice president — Coats won reelection in 1992 before retiring from the Senate in 1998. He then was nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 2001, arriving there mere days before the Sept. 11 terrorism attack.
After departing as ambassador four years later, Coats worked as a prominent lobbyist in Washington D.C. and then decided to run for his former Senate seat in 2010 — an election he won.
Coats again announced his retirement from government in November 2015.
Most recently while in the Senate, Coats served as the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm,” Trump added in his statement.
“I’m pleased to hear the President-elect has nominated my colleague and friend Dan Coats to be the next head of our Intelligence Community," said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "Dan’s experience as a valued member of the Senate Intelligence Committee will help to guide him as the next Director of National Intelligence."
In the past year as a senator, Coats has introduced six bills. Only two simple resolutions passed: The first recognized the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the other commemorated the bicentennial of the state of Indiana.
Coats will lead an intelligence community that already has a rocky relationship with the president-elect, as Trump has continued to float doubts about the community’s findings in the Russia hacking investigation.
While testifying before the Armed Services Committee, Clapper stopped short of calling Russia’s interference in the election an act of war, saying that was something for lawmakers to discern.
However, the committee’s chairman, John McCain (R-AZ), maintained that the attack was alarming.
“Every American should be alarmed by Russia's attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference," McCain said in his opening statement during the hearing. "That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks."
On Twitter, Donald Trump seemed more concerned with the intelligence community’s findings that pertained to the legitimacy of his election rather than Russia’s involvement.
Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only "stupid" people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We.....
The president-elect has maintained a belief that the United States should “move on” from the attack, adding on Saturday that the country will have a good relationship and will work together with Russia under his administration.
Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on the rural-urban divide.