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 SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) quickly called on Republicans to oppose GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeThis Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead DOJ charges two Iranians with interference in 2020 election In dramatic shift, national intelligence director does not rule out 'extraterrestrial' origins for UFOs MORE's (Texas) nomination to be the next director of national intelligence (DNI) after Trump announced the pick Friday.

“With this nomination, President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection 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 — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away 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 CollinsSenate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection Hillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as other potential swing votes like Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney praises Biden's boycott of Beijing Olympics White House announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics US expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills 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 CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE, a former senator, stepped down. 

Since then he’s had two acting DNIs — Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireJudge dismisses Nunes's defamation suit against Washington Post Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid says he voted for Biden Congressional Democrats request FBI briefing on foreign election interference efforts 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.