President Donald Trump said that he was considering Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican and ally, as his formal nominee for director of national intelligence.
Trump made the announcement during a flight to Las Vegas after a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Thursday night. The president has been on a tour of Western U.S. states for much of this week.
Naming Collins to the post could simplify a Senate race in Georgia, where the congressman has challenged Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Republicans had feared that an extended battle could hand the race to the Democrats, and perhaps endanger their majority in the Senate.
Earlier this week, Trump said he’d appoint Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to be the next acting director of national intelligence.
Grenell is to replace Joseph Maguire, a former Navy SEAL whom Trump appointed as DNI after the resignation last year Dan Coats, a former senator from Indiana. Maguire has held the job in an acting capacity and Trump was required by law to either replace him or ask the Senate to confirm him in the position by next month.
According to The New York Times, Trump angrily confronted Maguire when he found out that intelligence officials had told a House briefing that Russia was intruding in this year’s election on the side of the president.
Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, chose Loeffler in December to temporarily fill the seat of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who was retiring, although Trump had urged him to pick Collins.
Loeffler owns the WNBA’s Atlanta team and is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the chief executive officer of Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. She has pledged $20 million of her own fortune for her campaign.
Collins, a lawyer and chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, helped lead the opposition to House Democrats’ impeachment of Trump as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. From that role, he has become well-known fixture on Fox News and other conservative outlets.
He announced in January that he’d challenge Loeffler in November’s election for the last two years of the term Isakson relinquished because of health concerns.
There was no immediate response to requests for comment from Collins or his Senate campaign early Friday morning.
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