Schumer urges GOP to oppose Trump's intel pick

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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer: Fired inspector general will be remembered as a 'hero' Biden calls on Trump to appoint coronavirus 'supply commander' Democrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots MORE (D-N.Y.) quickly called on Republicans to oppose GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Acting director of National Counterterrorism Center fired: report Acting director of national intelligence begins hiring freeze: reports 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 TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' 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 WarnerDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Hillicon Valley: Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed online | Google shares location data to counter virus | Dem senator pushes jobless benefits for gig workers | Twitter takes down 20,000 fake accounts 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 CollinsCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis GOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as other potential swing votes like Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOutgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump selects White House lawyer for coronavirus inspector general Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves GOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus Murkowski pushes Mnuchin for oil company loans 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 CoatsWe weren't ready for a pandemic — imagine a crippling cyberattack GOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Experts report recent increase in Chinese group's cyberattacks MORE, a former senator, stepped down. 

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Since then he’s had two acting DNIs — Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Former intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials 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.