Trump Taps New Director of National Intelligence

Texas Republican John Ratcliffe has been up for this post before, amid bipartisan criticism
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 29, 2020 5:30 AM CST
Trump Taps New Director of National Intelligence
In this Dec. 9, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, during the House impeachment inquiry hearings in Washington.   (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

President Trump on Friday picked Rep. John Ratcliffe to be the nation's top intelligence official, just months after abruptly ending an earlier effort to install him amid bipartisan criticism that the Texas GOPer was unqualified for the post. Trump initially named Ratcliffe for the job last summer, but then abruptly withdrew his name just five days later, before the Senate even considered him, per the AP. The president bowed to questions about Ratcliffe's qualifications and bipartisan concerns that he had little experience in the field of intelligence. At the time, news reports challenged the accuracy of Ratcliffe’s resume. His selection then drew sharp criticism from Democrats and a lukewarm response from some Republicans. The office of the director of national intelligence has been in upheaval since Dan Coats, who had a fraught relationship with Trump, announced in July 2019 that he was stepping down.

After withdrawing Ratcliffe's name, Trump in August named Joseph Maguire, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting national intelligence director. But earlier this month, Trump moved Maguire aside—before his tenure as acting director was set to expire on March 11—and named Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who's currently serving as acting national intelligence director while keeping his title as US ambassador to Germany, as acting director. Before being elected to Congress in 2014, Ratcliffe was mayor of Heath, Texas, and a US attorney in the Eastern District of Texas. Trump's choice of Ratcliffe drew swift criticism from Senate Democrats. "Replacing one highly partisan operative with another does nothing to keep our country safe," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

(More John Ratcliffe stories.)

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