The Journal Gazette
Thursday, February 16, 2017 10:09 pm

Hearing set as Trump maintains Coats' confirmation is stalled

Brian FranciscoThe Journal Gazette

President Donald Trump contended Thursday that the Senate has stalled the confirmation process for his choice for national intelligence director, former Indiana senator Dan Coats.

"This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved, and they're outstanding people, like Senator Dan Coats, who's there, one of the most respected men in the Senate," Trump said at a White House news conference broadcast by C-SPAN.

"He can't get approved. How do you not approve him?" Trump wondered. "He's been a colleague, highly respected, brilliant guy, great guy, everybody knows it. But waiting for approval."

Asked for comment about Trump's remarks and Coats' confirmation process, the office of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, referred The Journal Gazette to a story that appeared on the website of The Hill news organization shortly before Trump's news conference.

Burr had told The Hill that his committee will have a confirmation hearing for Coats "as soon as we get back" from a scheduled Senate recess next week. He said the hearing has been delayed because the committee has been waiting on paperwork related to the vetting of Coats.

"Requirements of the minority to have everything – and some of that’s out of our control, it’s FBI security, background checks," Burr told Hill reporter Katie Bo Williams. 

Burr told Williams that Coats had provided the committee with all documents required of him. Coats, 73, had been a member of the Intelligence Committee before leaving the Senate in early January. He did not seek re-election to his seat last year.

Trump nominated Coats for director of national intelligence on Jan. 7. He is among three Cabinet nominees who have not gone before the appropriate Senate committees for confirmation hearings. The Senate has confirmed 13 of Trump's nominees; several more have been through hearings and await confirmation votes by the full Senate. 

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump intends to have New York billionaire Stephen Feinberg review U.S. intelligence agencies. The story reported that Coats is "especially angry" and sees the review as an attempt by Trump aide Stephen Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner "to sideline him before he is even confirmed, according to current and former officials."

The Times story, by James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg, said that Coats "believes the review would impinge on a central part of his role as the director of national intelligence and fears that if Mr. Feinberg were working at the White House, he could quickly become a dominant voice on intelligence matters." 

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