In a surprising reversal, President Donald Trump is giving a close ally a second chance at becoming the nation’s top intelligence official. And once again, Democrats and their media allies aren’t happy.
On Friday, Trump announced that he is nominating Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to be his Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
“I am pleased to announce the nomination of @RepRatcliffe (Congressman John Ratcliffe) to be Director of National Intelligence (DNI),” Trump tweeted. “Would have completed process earlier, but John wanted to wait until after IG Report was finished. John is an outstanding man of great talent!”
There are several good reasons why congressman Ratcliffe’s name may sound familiar. Two such reasons are that, over the past few years, Ratcliffe has been an outspoken critic of the Russian collusion hoax and, more generally, has been a strong proponent of President Trump’s agenda.
But, particularly in this current context — the DNI — Ratcliffe’s name may sound familiar because he has been selected for the position by President Trump before. Just last summer, in fact, Ratcliffe, after intense negative media coverage over his nomination, decided not to accept the offer, explaining:
However, I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue. The country we all love deserves that it be treated as an American issue.
— John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) August 2, 2019
President Trump blamed the media in his response on Twitter, writing: “Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people….John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly.”
Democratic leaders already at it
So, what has changed between then and now, that this time Ratcliffe will proceed with the selection process?
Not much. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have already issued statements questioning Trump’s selection.
“Intelligence should never be guided by partisanship or politics,” Pelosi said. “Unfortunately, Congressman Ratcliffe has shown an unacceptable embrace of conspiracy theories and a clear disrespect and distrust of our law enforcement and intelligence patriots that disqualify him from leading America’s intelligence community.”
She continued: “Last summer, this nomination was withdrawn after revelations about Congressman Ratcliffe’s clear lack of qualifications and many misleading statements about his resume. The president is now ignoring these many serious outstanding concerns and letting politics, not patriotism, guide our national security. We call upon the Senate to remember that they take an oath to protect America, not the president, and vote against this nomination.”
Schumer had a similar message, referring to Ratcliffe as a “highly partisan operative.” “With this nomination, President Trump has shown once again his lack of respect for the rule of law and the intelligence community,” he said. “Republicans must join Democrats in swiftly rejecting the nomination of Mr. Ratcliffe.”
This all sets the scene for what will certainly be a fierce confirmation battle.