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World

President-elect Biden considers Angus King for leading intelligence role

  • President-elect Joe Biden, while being repeatedly held back from initiating a formal government transition, has been making efforts to fill essential cabinet positions - reportedly considering Angus King to serve as Director of National Intelligence in his new administration.
Updated 14 Nov 2020

President-elect Joe Biden, while being repeatedly held back from initiating a formal government transition, has been making efforts to fill essential cabinet positions - reportedly considering Angus King to serve as Director of National Intelligence in his new administration.

A senator from Maine, King is an independent was frequently aligns with Democrats, who served as a prominent member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees; as his selection would provide a reputable voice, known in both the government and the intelligence community. However, this appointment could potentially vacate a Democratic Senate seat, in a state in which there is overwhelming Republican support, as would require a carefully fielded candidate.

During the Trump Administration, Senator King was an outspoken critic of what he termed as Trump's politicization of the intelligence community, especially through the appointment of loyal allies with limited intelligence experience.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Senator King stated that "You want intelligence to be truthful and unvarnished and as straightforward as possible - not what you want to hear, not what supports your policy positions [...] because if you don’t get that kind of information, you’re liable to make catastrophic mistakes".

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, a Republican from Maine who previously served under President Bill Clinton, described Senator King as "a diligent and thoughtful member of the Senate Intelligence Committee for eight years, and in that role has provided effective oversight of the intelligence community", stating that he would be an ideal candidate for the role.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was launched in 2005, and specifically tasked to oversee the nation's rapidly expanding intelligence infrastructure, and to coordinate among the numerous agencies.

President Trump was a hardened sceptic of the intelligence community, especially considering the ongoing investigation of his campaign's ties to Russia, and attempted to actively scale back on the role of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as a whole. Dan Coats and Joseph Maguire, President Trump's first two intelligence chiefs were forced out for not complying with the party-narrative, as the President often used intelligence to draw inaccurate conclusions that served his own interests.

In contrast, President-elect Biden aims to place individuals who are familiar to the intelligence community into these roles, with Cohen stating that "[Biden] knows this world well and will appoint serious and credible professionals to restore the morale in the intelligence community which has been badly harmed by the recent appointment of unqualified political appointees to senior positions".