President-elect Donald Trump will name former Indiana Senator Dan Coats as director of the nation’s intelligence community, including its 17 intelligence agencies.
The former Republican Senator, who stepped down from the Senate at the end of his 2016 term, was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Coats was also a former ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush. He has served in the Senate twice, first from 1989 to 1999 and again starting in 2011 until this past year.
The selection comes in the midst of rumors that Trump is weighing dismantling the very agency that Coats would be heading, with reports that different members of Trump’s team having conflicting ideas on what should become of the position. If confirmed, Coats would lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The ODNI oversees the 17 agencies that make up the so-called U.S. Intelligence Community. Created after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the office is tasked with coordinating between the agencies and ensuring that important data is shared, something that was widely viewed as part of the intelligence shortcomings prior to 9/11.
Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday denied a report by the Wall Street Journal claiming that Trump was considering paring back the intelligence office, calling it “100 percent false,” a claim that Spicer makes often with leaked news reports. “All transition activities are for information -gathering purposes and all discussions are tentative,” he added.
One of Coat’s claims to fame was that in 2014, he was banned from Russia in retaliation for his support for a series of sanctions levied against the Kremlin 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 him to his senses.”