Nation Has a New Spy Chief

Senate confirms GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2020 12:21 PM CDT
Nation Has a New Spy Chief
In this May 5 photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence, though he failed to draw the bipartisan support of his predecessors. Ratcliffe seemed unlikely to get the position when he was nominated in February, as he had already been nominated for the job last year and then withdrew after Republicans questioned his experience. But senators warmed to him as they grew concerned about upheaval in the intelligence community under President Trump and wanted a permanent, confirmed director, per the AP. The Texas Republican will replace Richard Grenell, the current acting director who has overseen a slew of personnel changes. The last Senate-confirmed director, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, left the post last summer after clashing with Trump.

Democrats allowed a quick vote on the nomination this week, dropping their usual procedural delays in a signal that they prefer Ratcliffe over Grenell. But most Democrats still opposed his nomination, making Ratcliffe the first DNI not to win broad bipartisan support since the position was first created in 2005. The vote was 49-44. Democrats said they were skeptical that Ratcliffe would be an independent leader, despite his assurances during his confirmation hearing. The Republican has been an ardent defender of the president through House impeachment and investigations into Russian interference. But he pledged to communicate to Trump the intelligence community’s findings even if he knew Trump disagreed with them.

(Read more John Ratcliffe stories.)

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