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Schumer urges GOP to oppose Trump's intel pick

Schumer urges GOP to oppose Trump's intel pick
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-N.Y.) quickly called on Republicans to oppose GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Pompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over 'intimidation' tactics Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE's (Texas) nomination to be the next director of national intelligence (DNI) after Trump announced the pick Friday.

“With this nomination, President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE has shown once again his lack of respect for the rule of law and the intelligence community. Republicans must join Democrats in swiftly rejecting the nomination of Mr. Ratcliffe," Schumer said in a statement.

Trump announced via tweet that he had picked Ratcliffe, viewed as a stalwart loyalist to the president, for the top intelligence community position. Trump had previously nominated the Texas lawmaker last year but pulled the nomination amid opposition from GOP senators and reports that he had padded his résumé.

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Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security Defense policy bill would create new cyber czar position MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued that nothing had changed since Trump last yanked Ratcliffe's nomination to address those concerns.

“The last time this nomination was unsuccessfully put forward, serious bipartisan questions were raised about Rep. Ratcliffe’s background and qualifications. It’s hard for me to see how anything new has happened to change that," he said. 

Democrats can't block Ratcliffe's nomination on their own. Trump will only need a simple majority to get him confirmed, and Republicans control 53 seats.

That will put an immediate spotlight on Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as other potential swing votes like Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Romney blasts Trump lack of leadership during pandemic: 'It's a great human tragedy' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Alaska). Democrats would need four Republican votes to block Ratcliffe's nomination on the Senate floor. 

Trump has lacked a Senate-confirmed director of national intelligence since last year, when Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSenate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security New federal cybersecurity lead says 'rumor control' site will remain up through January Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE, a former senator, stepped down. 

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Since then he’s had two acting DNIs — Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireRetired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts Wells Fargo told employees to delete TikTok from work phones MORE and, now, Richard Grenell, who is also serving as the U.S. ambassador to Germany. 

Trump’s decision to push forward with Ratcliffe comes as he’s shaken up the intelligence community after Senate Republicans acquitting him of two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

Schumer added that by tapping Ratcliffe, Trump was “replacing one highly partisan operative with another,” a reference to Grenell, who has garnered steep criticism from Democrats. 

“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,” Schumer added.