Senate Confirms Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence

  • Coats will oversee coordination of 17 intelligence agencies
  • Ex-senator faced little resistance with 85-12 Senate vote

Dan Coats won Senate confirmation Wednesday to oversee 17 agencies as the U.S. director of national intelligence, a role that will challenge him to build ties in place of tensions between the spy agencies and the Trump administration. 

Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, faced little resistance as the Senate voted 85-12 to confirm him. He will be responsible for coordinating the U.S. intelligence community, which includes the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Having served as a lawmaker, ambassador and lobbyist, the 73-year-old Coats is a known quantity in Washington. During his confirmation hearing last month, Coats assured his former Senate colleagues he would act independently as the director of national intelligence. 

Coats also has said he would cooperate with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into allegations of Russian hacking during the 2016 election, as well as possible contacts between Trump’s team and Russian officials, including providing raw intelligence and material as required.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the judgment of the intelligence agencies, comparing them at one point to Nazi Germany for alleged leaks damaging to him. He initially rejected their finding that Russia hacked into Democrats’ emails and leaked documents during last year’s campaign to help him win.

More recently, he has put the intelligence agencies on the spot with Twitter postings saying that President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped ahead of the November election. The administration has yet to offer evidence to back up the claim.