Trump Taps John Ratcliffe For Director Of National Intelligence — Again

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 president... WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mueller, along with former Deputy Special Counsel Aaron Zebley, will later testify before the House Intelligence Committee in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
February 28, 2020 5:33 p.m.

President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon tweeted that he was nominating Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to be the director of national intelligence.

Trump previously withdrew a plan to nominate Ratcliffe for the job in August, after several reports revealed that the Texas congressman had exaggerated his accomplishments as a federal prosecutor in Texas.

“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,” Trump tweeted at the time. “John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country.”

The re-upping of Ratcliffe — whose previous nomination was met with barely lukewarm support from Republicans — buys potentially months more time in office for the acting intelligence director, the outspoken Trump loyalist and ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

Grenell’s past foreign clients and aggressive public presence have clouded his short tenure as acting DNI.

The New York Times reported last week that Grenell had installed as his deputy Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) with a history of spreading conspiracy theories. Patel’s appointment — and news that Grenell had asked to see the intelligence used in the election interference briefing Maguire’s staff gave lawmakers this month — raised concerns that Grenell was using his new powers toward political ends.

CNN reported Tuesday that Trump was again considering Ratcliffe for the role.

Trump grew to like the Texas congressman for his vociferous defenses of the President during the Russia probe and recent impeachment investigation.

At a White House event celebrating his acquittal from impeachment charges earlier this month, Trump compared his future DNI pick to the fictional expert defense lawyer played by Raymond Burr a half century ago.

“If we’re doing a remake of ‘Perry Mason,’ a man I get, there is nobody in Hollywood like this,” Trump said.

Ratcliffe has scant experience in intelligence matters and, reportedly, not much interest in them.

Grenell, the acting intelligence director, followed Joseph Maguire in that role. Maguire resigned after Trump made it clear he would not nominate him to the role permanently.

Trump reportedly soured on Maguire after staff from the then-acting DNI’s office briefed lawmakers on Russia election interference efforts on Trump’s behalf in 2020, earlier this month.

This post has been updated.

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