President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly tapped former Indiana U.S. Sen. Dan Coats to be his national intelligence director.
Elected officials, including Coats’ former colleague U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), are praising the choice. It had not been officially confirmed as of late Thursday afternoon.
If appointed, Coats would lead the nation’s intelligence community. The national intelligence post is separate from that of CIA director.
Coats spent 18 years in Congress, in both the House and Senate, before retiring to fulfill a self-imposed term limits promise. He served on the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence.
He was also ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush.
Former Indiana U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who served alongside Coats, told Indiana Public Broadcasting in an interview Thursday that this experience makes Coats a good fit for the intelligence post.
“He had a very good grasp of the Cold War, of obviously German-American relations, and in the Senate has demonstrated that – in his service in foreign policy and intelligence, and in general thinking constructively,” Lugar says.
The president-elect has been sharply critical of the nation’s intelligence agencies in recent weeks, expressing doubt about their conclusion that Russia was behind hacking meant to influence last year’s elections. Trump has also praised Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Coats has been far less friendly toward Russia. In 2014, he and five other legislators were banned from entering that country after calling on the Obama administration to mete out punishment for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Coats told the Indianapolis Star in December he believes that ban is still in place.