Trump to tap Coats for national intelligence director

Trump to tap Coats for national intelligence director

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE will name former Indiana Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE to direct the nation’s sprawling intelligence community, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

The mild-mannered Republican, who did not seek reelection in November, was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A former ambassador to Germany under George W. Bush, Coats served in the Senate twice — from 1989 to 1999, and again from 2011 until this year. 

The selection comes as rumors swirl that Trump is weighing dismantling the very agency he has now reportedly tapped Coats to lead, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

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The ODNI oversees the 16 agencies that make up the so-called Intelligence Community.

Created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the office is tasked with coordinating between the agencies and ensuring that important data is shared.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday denied a report by The Wall Street Journal claiming Trump was considering paring back the intelligence office, calling it "100 percent false." 

"All transition activities are for information-gathering purposes and all discussions are tentative," he added. 

Coats will need to win approval from the Senate.

In 2014, Coats was banned from Russia in retaliation for his support for a series of sanctions levied against Moscow after it annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. 

“Putin’s recent aggression is unacceptable, and America must join with our European allies to isolate and punish Russia,” Coats said at the time. “I will continue to lead efforts on Capitol Hill to bring [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to his senses."

The incoming administration's stance on Russia has become one of the biggest points of friction in the lead-up to confirmation hearings, which begin next week. 

Lawmakers — including some Republicans — are concerned by Trump's warm attitude towards the country and his rejection of the Intelligence Community's assessment that Russia attempted to meddle in the U.S. election. 

Coats, like Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), will likely face questions on the matter during the confirmation process. 

- Updated at 3:52 p.m.