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Trump To Select Former Senator Dan Coats As Intelligence Director

President-elect Donald Trump will appoint former Indiana Senator Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence.

The pick could be announced later this week, according to a person briefed Thursday on the decision. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

If appointed, Coats would lead the nation’s intelligence community. The national intelligence post is separate from that of CIA director.

Coats is a conservative who spent 16 years in the Senate. He spent nearly two decades in Congress from 1981 to 1999, serving in both the House and Senate, before retiring to fulfill a self-imposed term limits promise. He served as U.S. ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush before he successfully ran for Evan Bayh's vacated Senate seat in 2010. Coats announced his retirement last year and did not seek re-election.

Former Indiana U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who served alongside Coats, says 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.

Trump on Friday will meet with directors of the FBI and CIA, as well as current DNI James Clapper to be briefed on their findings.

Barbara Brosher, Annie Ropeik and Drew Daudelin contributed to this report.

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