Daniel Ray "Dan" Coats, former Senator from Indiana, was selected to serve as Director of National Intelligence by President Donald Trump on January 7, 2017. Coats currently awaits Senate confirmation for the position.
"Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community," President Trump said in a statement, as reported by POLITICO. "If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he 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."
Coat’s appointment was made one day after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified version of an intelligence report detailing its investigations on Russia’s alleged hacking of the 2016 presidential election. While Trump was aware that Russia and other countries had made multiple attempts to attack the U.S.’s cyber systems, he said "there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," as reported by CBS News.
In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Director of National Intelligence position was created to strengthen the coordination between the 16 intelligence agencies in intelligence gathering efforts. However, The Wall Street Journal recently reported President Trump's intention to reform and limit the power of the Director of National Intelligence, which has been criticized for being increasingly "politicized." In a press conference on January 5, 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer clarified that "there is no truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure, it is 100% false."
Coats, 73, attended Wheaton College in Chicago and served in the U.S. Army before earning his law degree from Indiana University School of Law in 1971. He started his political career working as a district representative for then-Republican Congressman J. Danforth Quayle, who later became Vice President under President George H. W. Bush. In 1981, Coats was elected as a Republican member of the House of Representatives and represented the 4th congressional district of Indiana.
After Quayle left his former Senate position in 1988 to serve as Vice President of the United States, Coats was elected to the Senate and joined the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. At that time, he was one of the few Republican proponents of authorizing the use of armed forces overseas, according to The New York Times. He was re-elected to the Senate for a full six-year term in 1992, but not in 1998. In 2010, he ran for office again and served as Senator of Indiana until 2017.
During his time away from the Senate, Coats was a special counsel for Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, MacPherson and Hand, one of the powerful Washington D.C. law firms that develop lobbying strategies for federal agencies, congressional committees, local and foreign governments, companies and nonprofit organizations. Lawyers at the firm include past Senate majority leaders and governors. Coats also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 under President George W. Bush. According to US News, Coats was at one point considered by President Bush for the Secretary of Defense position but it was later filled by Donald Rumsfeld.