Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, who served under President Trump, on Tuesday introduced Avril Haines, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as DNI, at her Senate confirmation hearing.
“After several conversations with Avril, there is no doubt in my mind that President-elect Biden has chosen someone who has all the capabilities and qualities, experience, and leadership to be the next director of national intelligence,” Coats said ahead of Haines’s opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
According to acting panel Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Coats had been scheduled to appear virtually, but came in person at the last minute.
Coats, who served as DNI for Trump between 2017 and 2019, described Haines as an “exceptional choice,” praising her stated goal of “bringing non-politicized truth to power and restoring trust and confidence in the intelligence community and the American public.”
Coats left the role of DNI after clashing with Trump on multiple issues during his tenure, most notably over Trump’s comments at a 2018 press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where Trump accepted Putin’s claims that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Coats, and much of the intelligence community, strongly pushed back after those remarks.
Coats also publicly disagreed with Trump on concerns around North Korea and threats from the Islamic State.
If confirmed, Haines will be the first woman to serve as DNI, and pledged during the hearing to keep politics out of her role.
“To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power — even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult,” she testified. “To safeguard the integrity of our intelligence community, the DNI must insist that, when it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics — ever.”