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 SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.) quickly called on Republicans to oppose GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Former Trump intelligence officials say they had trouble briefing him on Russia: report GOP senator calls for Russian bounties briefing after reviewing intelligence 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 TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad 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 WarnerSenators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown 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 CollinsLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as other potential swing votes like Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Trump administration narrows suspects in Russia bounties leak investigation: report MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops 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 CoatsAmerica's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down German lawmaker, US ambassador to Germany trade jabs MORE, a former senator, stepped down. 

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Since then he’s had two acting DNIs — Joseph MaguireJoseph MaguireHillicon Valley: Pompeo floats TikTok ban | Civil rights groups slam Facebook after call | Election security funding included in proposal Pompeo: US 'certainly looking at' ban on Chinese social media apps like TikTok Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down 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.