President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday picked former U.S. Senator Dan Coats as his director of national intelligence, two senior transition officials said, as he puts his stamp on a U.S. intelligence community that he frequently criticizes.
The official announcement was expected this week as Trump makes decisions on some of the remaining major positions he must fill as he prepares to take over the White House on Jan. 20.
Coats, 73, is a traditional conservative from Indiana who just finished a six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He was also U.S. ambassador to Germany for Republican President George W. Bush.
Coats “would be an excellent choice,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told reporters.
“Because Dan’s got the experience, he’s got the leadership skills having been an ambassador and I think his time on the committee has served him to understand what that role entails.”
One Democratic official familiar with Coats’ background and views described him as a “very reasonable guy.” Another U.S. official familiar with intelligence matters said he was “very well respected on both sides of the aisle.”
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.
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