Trump wants Coats as intelligence chief

2017-01-07 20:48
(Evan Vucci, AP)

(Evan Vucci, AP)

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Washington - President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday named retired Senator Dan Coats as national intelligence director, saying the former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee was the right person to lead the new administration's "ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm."

Trump's announcement came a day after the release of a declassified government report on Russian efforts to influence the presidential election. The report predicts Russia isn't done intruding in US politics and policy making.

Enforcement agencies

Trump wants to improve relations with Russia and repeatedly has denounced intelligence agencies' assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the election, when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. But the report released on Friday explicitly ties Russian President Vladimir Putin to the meddling and says Russia had a "clear preference" for Trump over Clinton.

Coats, an Indiana Republican, will await Senate confirmation to head the office, which was created after the September 11 attacks to improve co-ordination among US spy and law enforcement agencies.

Coats now finds himself in line to be at the centre of an intelligence apparatus that the president-elect has publicly challenged.

Trump said that Coats "has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community." He said Coats "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."

Coats, in a statement released by Trump's transition team, said: "There is no higher priority than keeping America safe and I will utilise every tool at my disposal to make that happen."

Became lobbyist

Trump's team has been examining ways to restructure intelligence agencies as part of an effort to streamline operations and improve efficiency, but Coats' nomination could ease fears that Trump would push for a significant overhaul.

Coats, 73, is a Capitol Hill veteran who served eight years in the House before moving to the Senate in 1989 to take Dan Quayle's place when Quayle became President George HW Bush's vice president. Coats stayed in the Senate until 1998, then left to become a lobbyist.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  us  |  cyber attacks  |  us 2016 elections

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