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FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2017, file photo, National Intelligence Director nominee, former Indiana Sen, Dan Coats waits for the start of a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Partisan discord is seeping into House and Senate intelligence committee investigations of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether President Donald Trump has ties to Russia. The issue will likely surface at the Feb. 28 Senate confirmation hearing for former Coats. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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Top intelligence nominee pledges to blunt political pressure

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2017, file photo, National Intelligence Director nominee, former Indiana Sen, Dan Coats waits for the start of a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Partisan discord is seeping into House and Senate intelligence committee investigations of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether President Donald Trump has ties to Russia. The issue will likely surface at the Feb. 28 Senate confirmation hearing for former Coats. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s top spy chief says he is strong enough to stand up to any political interference from those seeking intelligence to back national security policy decisions.

If confirmed, former GOP Sen. Dan Coats would sit squarely between the nation’s intelligence workers and President Donald Trump, who has disparaged them for past failures and their assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the election in the president’s favor.

The Senate intelligence committee’s investigation into Russian activities, however, did not take center stage at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing.

While some senators asked Coats to pledge to provide intelligence to the panel so it can investigate, others asked about harsh interrogation techniques, government surveillance and whether he thinks his voice will be heard at the White House.

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