John Ratcliffe: Trump abandons National Intelligence pick as Democrats rally to derail nomination

Mr Ratcliffe claims he put terrorists into prison as a US prosecutor — but his office has provided no names

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 02 August 2019 15:23 BST
(AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has pulled his nomination of congressman John Ratcliffe to become his next director of national security, citing critical media reports of the Texan he has called unfair.

Mr Trump announced his decision on Twitter, after Democrats vowed to derail his nomination over concerns the congressman exaggerated on his resume about his record as a prosecutor working terrorism cases.

"Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to have to deal with these people," Mr Trump tweeted.

"John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country," he continued. "I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly."

Mr Trump's decision marks the latest nomination embarrassment for the administration, which is known for skipping corners during the vetting process for high-level nominations before choices are made public.

Mr Ratcliffe confirmed that his nomination was being pulled, in a series of tweets claiming that he did not want to endure a nomination fight that he suspects would have become "a purely political and partisan issue."

"I was humbled and honoured that the President put his trust in me to lead our nation's intelligence operations and remain convinced that when confirmed, I would have done so with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve," Mr Ratcliffe wrote.

"However, I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue. The country we all love deserves that it be treated as an American issue," he continued. "Accordingly, I have asked the President to nominate someone other than me for this position."

Mr Ratcliffe's nomination was instantly controversial, with Democrats claiming he is too political for the position. They also noted that Mr Ratcliffe had been a vocal critic of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, had played a leading role in the GOP's investigation into the Justice Department and FBI's investigation into the Russia probe, which he had accused of abusing its authority by investigating Mr Trump's 2016 campaign adviser

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"This is one more item that raises enormous red flags to me," Mark Warner, a democratic senator from Virginia and top member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN.

"Director Coats was willing to speak truth to power. I've seen no evidence from what I've read or seen about Mr Ratcliffe, that he'll bring that same level of independence. And, what I fear is that the deeper we get into the Trump administration, the more this president wants 'yes-men.'"

In addition to the concerns over his partisanship, Mr Ratcliffe's resume as a federal terrorism prosecutor also drew questions. Mr Ratcliffe claims he "put terrorists in prison" as a US attorney, but his office failed to provide the names of terrorism suspects that were put in prison as a result of his work.

Republicans remained generally quiet on the issue of Mr Ratcliffe's resume, and many expressed an interest in waiting for his nomination materials to be sent to the Senate before discussing the issue.

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