Apparently neither Trump nor anyone on his team discussed the post with Collins before his name was floated by the president.
“This is not a job that interests me at this time; it’s not one that I would accept,” Collins said flatly on Fox Business on Friday morning, the day after Trump told reporters he was considering him as permanent head of the DNI. Collins is currently in a Senate primary race against fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, and he wants to see that through, he explained.
Collins, a staunch defender of the president and the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said it was “humbling” to be considered by Trump for the post.
The president tweeted early Friday that he was considering “four great candidates” to head the DNI. But Collins was the only one he identified to reporters.
Trump has named controversial U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a fierce Trump loyalist, as acting head of the department. ProPublica reported Friday that Grenell worked in 2016 as a consultant for a Moldovan politician later accused of corruption by the U.S. Grenell also failed to notify the U.S. that he was working on behalf of a foreign politician, in apparent violation of the law, according to the online investigative publication.
Joseph Maguire was ousted this week as DNI acting director because Trump was reportedly furious that one of Maguire’s deputies briefed the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was again interfering in the presidential election to sway the vote for Trump. At a Las Vegas campaign rally Friday, Trump blasted the briefing as Democratic “disinformation,” even though it’s based on U.S. intelligence.
Collins is under fire from members of his own party for challenging Loeffler, who was appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year to replace a retiring senator. Loeffler already has some significant GOP support, and party leaders are fearful that Collins will dilute the Republican vote in a primary that will include Democratic candidates. Earlier statements Trump made about the Georgia race indicate he may have dangled the DNI post to draw Collins out of the contest.
Collins infamously said in January that Democrats “are in love with terrorists” — a comment for which he later apologized.
Check out Collins’s comments about the DNI post in the video above. He discusses it at the start of the tape.