January 7, 2017, 12:01 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a role that would thrust him into the center of the intelligence community that Trump has publicly challenged, a person with knowledge of the decision said Thursday.
Coats served as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee before retiring from Congress last year. If confirmed by the Senate, he would oversee the umbrella office created after 9/11 to improve coordination of U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies.
The person with knowledge of Trump's decision, as well as others who spoke to The Associated Press about intelligence matters involving Trump, were not authorized to discuss the matters publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Since winning the election, Trump has repeatedly challenged intelligence officials' assessments that Russia interfered with the election on his behalf, setting up an unusually public battle with the spy agencies. On Friday, senior intelligence officials will try to justify their claims when they brief Trump on the findings of a full report into the Russian hacking of Democratic groups. The report was ordered by President Barack Obama, who was informed of the conclusions Thursday.
On the eve of his briefing, Trump continued to challenge the intelligence community's assertion that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. He questioned how officials could be "so sure" about the hacking if they had not examined DNC servers.
"What is going on?" he wrote on Twitter.
A senior law enforcement official said in a statement released by the FBI that the bureau repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the importance of obtaining direct access to the servers "only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated." The official said the FBI had to rely on a "third party" for information, but did get access to the material it needed.