By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee voted overwhelmingly Thursday for President Donald Trump‘s nominee for director of national intelligence, former Republican Senator Dan Coats, and sent his nomination to the Senate.
The vote, which took place in a closed-door hearing, was 13-2, the committee said. Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Kamala Harris were the only two members who voted against it.
Coats has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate as America’s top intelligence official. The popular former legislator, who also served as ambassador to Germany, is expected to be easily confirmed.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks to oversee the 16 US intelligence agencies and improve communications between them.
Coats, 73, replaces James Clapper, who retired when President Barack Obama left office.
Coats was a member of the Senate intelligence panel until he retired from the Senate late last year. During his confirmation hearing on February 28, he vowed to support a thorough investigation of any Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Wyden, a leading Senate privacy advocate, said he voted against his former colleague because he felt the office of the Director of National Intelligence had not provided the committee with enough information about how many communications records of Americans have been under surveillance. governmental. .
“Since there has not been a firm commitment to deliver this critical information, I cannot support any DNI nominee without that material,” Wyden said in a statement.
Harris said that after considering Coats’ track record on a variety of issues, he concluded that he could not support his nomination.
Senators Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Mark Warner, its top Democrat, said they were pleased the committee had endorsed Coats.
Warner said he was confident that Coats, as a former committee member, respected the oversight responsibilities of the panel.
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