The Los Angeles is reporting that President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to head the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, overseeing 17 intelligence agencies, according to a transition official.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Coats would face a daunting task as the bridge between Trump and the intelligence community. Trump has begun openly feuding with intelligence agencies over their conclusion that Russia hacked into Democratic computers to influence the election.
Coats recently concluded a term in the Senate, after also serving there from 1989 through 1999. He has also served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany.
Coats, who served on the Senate intelligence committee, may also face a challenge in reconciling his own hawkish views on Russia with Trump’s far friendlier posture toward President Vladimir Putin,
Coats was banned, along with Arizona Sen. John McCain and a handful of other members of Congress and White House officials, from entering Russia in 2014 for backing U.S. sanctions against the country following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
“While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia this summer, I am honored to be on this list,” he said at the time.
Coats also spent years as a lobbyist between 2000 and 2010, working on behalf of a variety of clients in defense, pharmaceuticals, financial services and private equity, among other industries, according to public records. His clients included Lockheed Martin, a company Trump recently criticized for the high price of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Trump ran against Washington’s revolving-door lobbying culture, using “drain the swamp” as a prominent slogan. Yet he has chosen several former lobbyists for senior positions in his administration.