On Friday morning, hours after Donald Trump said he was considering nominating Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) as the permanent director of national intelligence, Collins went on Fox Business to say he has no interest in the job — rejecting Trump on live television.
While Collins said it was “humbling” that Trump was considering him for the position — in which he would oversee all of the U.S. intelligence agencies — he said the director of national intelligence role was “not a job that’s of interest to me, and at this time it’s not one that I’d accept.”
Trump floated Collins’ name Thursday night aboard Air Force One, telling reporters that he was seriously considering nominating Collins for the permanent role.
Trump’s comment came after the New York Times reported that Trump fired Joseph Maguire, who had previously held the title, because Maguire briefed the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s continued efforts to help get Trump reelected in 2020.
According to the Times, Maguire told lawmakers that Russia was even trying to interfere in the Democratic primary in an effort to help Trump.
The fact that Maguire told lawmakers this reportedly enraged Trump, who fired Maguire and placed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell in the position in the interim. Grenell has no national intelligence experience, but he is a Trump loyalist.
Grenell, however, cannot stay in the position long-term without a permanent nomination because of vacancy rules. And because Grenell has no national security experience, his nomination might face trouble even in the GOP-led Senate.
Nominating Collins to take over the role would check a few boxes for Trump.
First, it would put an ally likely to follow Trump’s orders in a prime position to hide any Russian election interference in the 2020 election.
But it would also neutralize what’s expected to be a messy Republican primary in a Georgia Senate race.
Collins is challenging appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a Republicans Senate primary in Georgia. And Republican strategists worry an ugly primary could cost the GOP money in a year where they are trying to protect their majority.
The Republican establishment is behind Loeffler and has been trying to force Collins out of the race to no avail.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.