Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump's nominee for director of national intelligence said Tuesday he has been assured that he will be included in the White House's core national security advisors body.
Dan Coats told the US Senate intelligence committee he had been informed that a recent decree excluding the DNI from the principals committee of the National Security Council, was a simple mistake and would be corrected.
The DNI coordinates 17 US intelligence bodies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The January 28 executive order shocked some in the broader US intelligence community for sidelining both the DNI and the chairman of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, both previously members of the core team of presidential advisors.
Meanwhile the order added Trump's controversial strategist Steve Bannon to the body, raising concerns its work would be politicized.
"I have been reassured time and time again, from the president to his advisors, that I am welcome and needed and expected to be a part of the principals committee," Coats told the Senate body reviewing his nomination.
"I was informed that the drafting of that executive order was not intended to not have the director of national intelligence as part of the principals committee."
Coats, 73, served as a Republican senator from Indiana from 1989 to 1999, and then from 2011 to the beginning of January.
He was US ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 under the George W. Bush administration.
As a popular former member of the Intelligence Committee, approval of his appointment seemed assured amid easy questioning Tuesday by both Democrats and Republicans.
Coats told the hearing that he sees Russian and Chinese expansionism, "radical Islamic terrorism," and cyber threats as the country's key security challenges.
He said he was committed to following up the politically sensitive investigations into alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election last year.
He also said he would adhere to US laws banning torture and ending the use of secret offshore prisons to detain and interrogate terror suspects.
"I have no other obligation but to follow the law" on torture, he said.
Several senators suggested Coats would be "too nice" to handle the job in the Trump White House.
"You're one of the most likeable, affable easy going people I've met," said Senator Angus King.
"I'm not sure likability and affability are the qualities I want in this position," he said.
"You're going to be reporting to a president who may or may not want to hear what you have to say."