By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to confirm former Republican Senator Dan Coats as President Donald Trump‘s director of national intelligence and approve the transfer of Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster to become his national security adviser.
The vote was 85-12 to confirm Coats, who also served as ambassador to Germany under former President George W. Bush. 51 votes were required for confirmation.
The only Republican who voted against Coats was Senator Rand Paul, one of the Senate’s leading privacy advocates, as well as several of the Democrats who also voted against Coats.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden had said he would oppose Coats’ nomination because he felt that the office of the Director of National Intelligence had not provided the committee with enough information about how many US communications records had been subject to government surveillance.
McMaster was approved as Trump’s second national security adviser in a vote of 86-10. No Republican senators voted against him.
McMaster had faced some opposition from Democratic senators who cited concerns about his earlier decision to allow two service members accused of battery to advance their careers while the case against him was open, in violation of Army regulations. .
The Senate does not normally approve a president’s national security adviser, but McMaster’s re-election to his new position had to be considered by the Senate because he is an active duty military officer.
McMaster, 54, who is known for speaking his mind and defying his superiors, replaces retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired as a national security adviser on February 13 after reports emerged that he had misled the Vice President Mike Pence about speaking with the Russian ambassador. to the United States on US sanctions before Trump took office.
Coats, 73, replaces James Clapper, who retired when President Barack Obama left office in January.
Coats was a member of the Senate intelligence committee 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.
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