History repeats itself: Donald Trump tweets that John Ratcliffe will be director of national intelligence, again

Texas congressman was previously announced by Trump as his nominee for the position last July, before pulling back

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe is once again President Donald Trump’s pick to be director of national intelligence. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe is once again President Donald Trump’s pick to be director of national intelligence. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:34pm

Rep. John Ratcliffe is once again President Donald Trump’s choice to be director of national intelligence.

The president announced in a tweet Friday that he was nominating the Texas Republican, calling him “an outstanding man of great talent!”

This is not the first time Trump has tweeted that Ratcliffe would be nominated for the intelligence leadership post, which is currently occupied on an acting basis by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

On a Friday afternoon last July, Trump announced that Dan Coats would be departing as head of intelligence and that Ratcliffe was the president’s choice to replace him.

A week later, Trump said Ratcliffe had withdrawn his name from consideration, with the president citing the congressman being “treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media” as cause for the nomination to be pulled back.

Concerns had been raised about exaggerations and amplifications in Ratcliffe’s record at the time, which were clarified by staff.

Following Coats’ departure in August, Joseph Maguire succeeded him as acting director. Grenell replaced Maguire earlier this month, but like Macguire, he would not be able to serve in the position past March 11, unless the White House sends a nomination to the Senate for consideration before then. A formal nomination of Ratcliffe would, in effect, stop the clock.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged his colleagues to reject Ratcliffe’s nomination, saying Trump “has shown once again his lack of respect for the rule of law and the intelligence community.”

“Replacing one highly partisan operative with another does nothing to keep our country safe,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “At a time when the Russians are interfering in our elections, we need a nonpartisan leader at the helm of the Intelligence Community who sees the world objectively and speaks truth to power, and unfortunately neither Acting Director Grenell nor Rep. Ratcliffe comes even close to that.”

While it was not immediately clear if Ratcliffe’s chances for Senate confirmation would improve on this second attempt, Republican efforts to hold on to his House seat will not be in doubt. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for his 4th District seat in northeast Texas Solid Republican.

If Ratcliffe is eventually confirmed, the timing of a special election to replace him would depend on when that confirmation occurs.

According to Texas law, a special election for a vacant House seat is held on the first election date that occurs at least 36 days after the special election is ordered.

Next week, Texas is among the Super Tuesday states holding primaries for president and Congress. After that, the next election dates in the Lone Star State are May 2, the date for municipal elections, and Nov. 3, the general election.

The news about Ratcliffe comes just a week after Trump sounded out that he was potentially interested in nominating Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins. That would have defused a potentially messy fight in this year’s Peach State special election for the seat currently held by appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

But Collins signaled he wasn't interested in the DNI job and has stayed in the race against Loeffler.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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