WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Wednesday that the directors of national intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency would both be members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
The Senate has confirmed former U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo as CIA director, but the nomination of former Senator Dan Coats as national intelligence director is awaiting confirmation.
The decision follows a political controversy over a decision by Trump not to make the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regular members of the Principals Committee, a key White House decision-making body.
David Priess, a historian of U.S. intelligence, said former President Ronald Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, was the first U.S. spy chief to sit in a presidential Cabinet.
Priess said one of Casey’s successors, William Webster, asked not to be in the Cabinet because he felt intelligence should be kept separate from policymaking.
Under President Bill Clinton, CIA Directors John Deutch and George Tenet were Cabinet members. When Tenet continued as CIA director after George W. Bush became president, he left the Cabinet.
In his memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Tenet wrote: “I was relieved that, unlike in the Clinton administration, where my job had Cabinet status, I no longer was obliged to attend ritual events like the State of the Union,” referring to the president’s annual speech to Congress.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Susan Heavey and Peter Cooney