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Trump Names Former Senator Dan Coats To Be Intelligence Chief

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CBS News CBS News
WASHINGTON, D.C. -

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.”

Mr. Trump’s announcement came one 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 U.S. politics and policymaking.

Mr. 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 Friday explicitly ties Russian President Vladimir Putin to the meddling and says Russia had a “clear preference” for Mr. Trump over Clinton.

Coats, an Indiana Republican, will await Senate confirmation to head the office, which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to improve coordination among U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies. Coats now finds himself in line to be at the center of an intelligence apparatus that the president-elect has publicly challenged.

Mr. Trump said in an early morning statement 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 Mr. Trump’s transition team, said: “There is no higher priority than keeping America safe, and I will utilize every tool at my disposal to make that happen.”

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 H.W. Bush’s vice president. Coats stayed in the Senate until 1998, then left to become a lobbyist.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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