The United States Senate on May 22 has reportedly confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee, John Ratcliffe, to be the next Director of National Intelligence (DNI). According to an international media report, senators voted 49-44 on Ratcliffe’s nominations. The 54-year old is a Republican member of the House of Representatives and was also a vocal defender of Trump during the president’s impeachment in 2019.
The Democrats reportedly opposed Ratcliffe’s nomination, however, they dropped procedural objections to a quick vote as members of both parties want a Senate-confirmed nominee in the job. Ahead of Thursday’s vote, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell praised Ratcliffe while, on the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer vowed to oppose his nomination. Schumer also reportedly said that the 54-year-old has not demonstrated the qualities for the independence that the authorities should expect.
However, Ratcliffe in his Senate confirmation hearing promised to be an independent head of the nation’s intelligence agencies and reportedly said that he would keep Congress informed of important developments. The Texas Congressman will be replacing former DNI, Dan Coats, who was a former US Senator and also had good relationships with legislators. The post was also temporarily filled by acting director Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who oversaw a shake-up in US intelligence agencies that raised concerns on Capitol Hill.
As per reports, Ratcliffe is also a Trump loyalist and was first picked by the US President for the post in July 2019. However, Trump then withdrew after some Senate Republicans questioned his lack of experience. Later the Republican senators, however, warmed to Ratcliffe as Trump nominated him again in February and also because concerns grew about Grenell and the turnover in the intelligence community.
Although Ratcliffe is a Trump loyalist, at his hearing, the 54-year old worked to separate himself from the president. He reportedly said that he believed Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a conclusion Trump has often resisted. He further also added that he would communicate to Trump the intelligence community’s findings even if he knew the US President disagreed with them and might fire him.
Ratcliffe sits on the House intelligence, judiciary and ethics committees. He was also a member of Trump’s impeachment advisory team last fall. Furthermore, according to a media report, he also aggressively questioned witnesses during the House impeachment hearings, including former special counsel Robert Mueller, who testified about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.