John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America
As the Senate begins its confirmation process for John Ratcliffe’s nomination as the director of national intelligence, I can undoubtedly say there are few officials in government that garner as much respect than the esteemed congressman from Texas.
While the Senate will spend the following weeks in what will assuredly be a partisan process, I look forward to the nation hearing about John Ratcliffe’s experience and qualifications which are extraordinary, even before he arrived in Congress. I also want to ensure this conversation includes one of his strongest traits: character.
John and I first met years ago after being elected to Congress in the same class. He had defied the odds when he challenged the establishment and won against the legendary Ralph Hall – an incumbent serving in his fifth decade in the House. It didn’t take me long to realize there was something special about this former federal prosecutor.
Though he was supportive of the various caucuses, John had little desire to be part of any group to promote his identity or profile – he arrived with his own set of credentials. He was focused on service instead of being consumed climbing the congressional leadership ladder. His purpose has always been to deliver results and serve the American people.
The truth is, he was one of the least recognized faces in those early days. John and I had dinner with former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) about once a week and people would line up to speak with or get a picture with Mr. Gowdy. Trey would often facetiously introduce John as his legislative assistant. Many wondered who the quiet guy from Texas was, but we would all soon discover the depth and substance of his measured approach.
It’s easy to make the case that with his experience, education and background, John is qualified to serve in any position or any level in government. He was asked early in his career to serve on the House Ethics Committee. Members would rather not serve in such an arena, but Speaker Paul Ryan chose him because he understood that John’s character was impeccable and Congress needed John Ratcliffe in this post.
At times, he’s larger than the House, not because of any conceit or pride, but rather his deliberate and genuine approach is contrary to the congressional politics of the day. John proved time and time again the loudest voices are rarely the most effective ones while allowing his accomplished work to speak for itself. With his diligent efforts to hold federal agencies accountable as well as his work improving our nation’s cybersecurity, John has compiled a complete and stellar record of defending our Constitution and protecting America during his time in Congress.
Due to his body of work and earned respect from his colleagues, John was asked to serve on the House Intelligence Committee. This most crucial area of service is reserved for the handful of the most trusted members of Congress. There was no one better to handle classified information and our national interests than John Ratcliffe.
His expertise and authenticity did not require hyperbolic ingredients to reveal his skillset. And, it wasn’t long until the whole nation was watching and listening. John has also served to great effect on the House Judiciary Committee where his questioning dissected those in government who abused power or violated the public trust. He is never intimidated confronting truth to power of any political party. Yet, interestingly enough, his friendships are not limited to those sitting on only one side of the aisle – a rarity in this hyper-partisan era.
In many cases, our House Republican leadership team often sought his counsel before making important decisions. During the recent impeachment hearings, Ratcliffe was the first to explain that President Trump was not above the law, but neither was he beneath it. I remember sitting with John in the Oval Office in 2017 when Ratcliffe spoke up and challenged President Trump to be stronger and bolder on a difficult policy measure.
His fearlessness coupled with his adherence to principle demands respect at all levels – and I have confidence that will extend as he serves atop our intelligence apparatus. That said, it is clear that there are few things in this world John disdains more than injustice and dishonesty. Whether exposing Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) impeachment sham or standing up against the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s abuse of student-athletes, his integrity prevents him from looking the other way.
As a former pastor, I always observed how a man treats his wife and family. I watch whether life is consumed in one’s self or if he thinks enough of his family to pursue their ambitions and dreams, even at the cost of his own.
Of all John’s credentials, I am most impressed with how much he loves his wife, Michele, and his two beautiful daughters – all strong women in their own right.
Our nation needs such a leader to handle our most sensitive information in these tumultuous times. It is for all these reasons that John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence – and for America.
Mark Walker represents North Carolina’s 6th District and is vice chair of the House Republican Conference.
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