WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (SENATE TV) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday (January 4) picked former U.S. Senator Dan Coats as his director of national intelligence, two senior transition officials said, as he puts his own stamp on a U.S. intelligence community that he frequently criticizes.
Coats, 73, is a traditional conservative from Indiana who just finished a six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He was also a U.S. ambassador to Germany for Republican President George W. Bush.
Two senior transition officials said Trump had chosen Coats. Separately, a source close to the transition said Trump had also considered New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the job but that Christie had chosen not to take it.
The leading candidate to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture was former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, although one source said Idaho Governor Butch Otter was also in the mix.
Toby Cosgrove, chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, had been considered for the veterans job but withdrew from consideration.
Some U.S. Intelligence officials on Thursday welcomed Coats’ selection, saying they hope his appointment was a sign that Trump was seeking to mend fences with the intelligence community after months of enmity over its assessment that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election through hacking.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a domestic political issue, said he also hoped that if he is confirmed, Coats can negotiate what he called “a truce” between the intelligence community and Trump’s choice for national security adviser, the former Defense Intelligence Agency director, retired Army Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, who was fired by the current director of national intelligence, James Clapper.