Senate

Schumer urges GOP to oppose Trump’s intel pick

Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) quickly called on Republicans to oppose GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (Texas) nomination to be the next director of national intelligence (DNI) after Trump announced the pick Friday.

“With this nomination, President Trump 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.

Sen. Mark Warner (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 Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, as well as other potential swing votes like Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (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 Coats, a former senator, stepped down. 

Since then he’s had two acting DNIs — Joseph Maguire 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. 

Tags Charles Schumer Dan Coats Donald Trump John Ratcliffe Joseph Maguire Lisa Murkowski Mark Warner Mitt Romney Susan Collins
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