- President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will nominate Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas to be the Director of National Intelligence.
- Trump initially nominated Ratcliffe for DNI last year, but Ratcliffe withdrew from consideration after a string of public controversies about his past record and statements.
- Ratcliffe, a Texas prosecutor who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, made waves with his questioning of the former special counsel Robert Mueller, which is what prompted Trump to initially nominate him.
- Former intelligence officials told Insider that there was “great concern” within the national security apparatus about Ratcliffe’s nomination because of his fierce loyalty to the president and his reputation as an “aggressive partisan.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he has nominated Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas for Director of National Intelligence.
“I am pleased to announce the nomination of 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!”
Trump initially nominated Ratcliffe for the same position last July, but the Republican representative withdrew from consideration after a string of public controversies surrounding his past record and public statements.
Ratcliffe entered the national spotlight last year after berating the former special counsel Robert Mueller when he testified before two congressional committees about his findings in the FBI’s Russia investigation.
In particular, Ratcliffe took issue with Mueller’s findings in the obstruction-of-justice investigation into Trump, saying during the hearing, “I agree with the chairman, this morning, when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not. But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where volume two of this report puts him.”
According to CNN, Ratcliffe had been under consideration for then outgoing DNI Dan Coats’ job for a while, but White House insiders didn’t think he was aggressive enough. His performance during Mueller’s hearings changed that perception, and five days after the hearing, the president announced Ratcliffe’s nomination.
The friction between Trump and Coats was something of an open secret by the time Coats’ resignation was announced over the weekend.
Throughout his tenure as DNI, Coats repeatedly warned about continued Russian attacks against the US electoral system and critical infrastructure. His statements often stood in sharp contrast to the president’s well documented reluctance to acknowledge the threat Moscow poses.
The president named Joseph Maguire to serve as acting DNI after Coats’ departure, and he was reportedly prepared to tap Maguire to serve in a permanent capacity, but abruptly reversed course after Maguire authorised an election security official to brief Congress this month about Russia’s ongoing interference in the 2020 election.
After the classified briefing, Trump brought Maguire into the Oval Office for a “dressing down,” The Washington Post reported.
According to The Post, the briefing was the “catalyst” for the president’s decision to replace Maguire as acting DNI with Richard Grenell, a controversial figure and fierce loyalist who has served as the US ambassador to Germany.
Ratcliffe, meanwhile, has earned praise from Republicans as one of Trump’s main attack dogs in Congress.
Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer for the CIA and National Security Agency who served under Republican and Democratic administrations, told Insider last year, when Ratcliffe was initially nominated, that there was “great concern” about Ratcliffe’s nomination within the intelligence community.
“His appointment suggests Trump is trying to politicize the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and mould it into a partisan operation, which it has never been,” Deitz said.
He added that although there were initial concerns within the rank and file about Coats, he “turned that around and engendered a great deal of loyalty within the department because he valued people’s work.”
“Ratcliffe is, as demonstrated during the Mueller hearings, a very aggressive partisan,” Deitz said. “If you’re going to support the president in everything he says, whimsical or not, intelligence professionals are going to have a very difficult time working under you.”
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