Susan Collins says she will vote for Trump's intelligence chief nominee

Susan Collins says she will vote for Trump's intelligence chief nominee
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsModerates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE (R-Maine) said on Wednesday that she will support Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump alumni launch America First Policy Institute Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE's (R-Texas) nomination to be the next director of national intelligence.

Collins's support all but guarantees Ratcliffe will have the votes necessary to advance out of the Intelligence Committee with a favorable recommendation.

"I interviewed him at great length over the phone when we were out of Washington," Collins told The Hill. "I asked him then and again yesterday a series of tough questions about whether he would be independent, present unvarnished analysis to the president and Congress, and he said he would."


Asked if she was supporting Ratcliffe's nomination, she replied, "I am."

Collins, a moderate senator who faces a tough reelection fight, was viewed as the most likely potential swing vote on the committee, where Republicans hold a one-seat majority. No Democrat has suggested they will support Ratcliffe's nomination.

If Ratcliffe's nomination makes it to the Senate floor, he'll be able to lose the support of three GOP senators and still be confirmed if Vice President Pence breaks a tie. No GOP senator has said they will vote against Ratcliffe, though several have not taken a public position on his nomination.

Collins's decision to vote for Ratcliffe comes after he appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Collins asked Ratcliffe during the hearing if he would "communicate the intelligence community’s analytical views to the president, even if you knew that he would strongly disagree with them." She also asked if he would do so "even if you believed it would place your job in jeopardy?"

Ratcliffe replied "of course" to both questions.


Collins also spoke on the phone with Ratcliffe last week as he made the rounds with members of the committee.

"After questioning him in detail, I concluded that he does have the experience to meet the statutory standard to fill the position," she said.

Collins said in Tuesday's hearing that she asked Ratcliffe during their phone call if he agreed with Trump that the intelligence community had "run amok and needs to be reined in."

Ratcliffe replied that "what [Trump] says or how he says them ... will not impact the intelligence that I deliver."

Trump initially said last year that he intended to nominate Ratcliffe to the post, but the Texas congressman withdrew his name from consideration amid reports that he inflated his résumé.

He's gained a reputation as a loyalist to Trump, including serving as part of a group of House Republicans who were advisers to the president's impeachment team.

But during his confirmation hearing, Ratcliffe vowed that he would be independent if confirmed to be the director of national intelligence (DNI), a position that has been filled in an acting capacity since August 2019 when then-Director Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsExperts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows MORE stepped down. GOP senators, in particular, have signaled they are ready to have a Senate-confirmed DNI.

Democrats, during Tuesday's hearing, said Ratcliffe did not directly answer their questions.

"He was ... very well briefed but I just don't see any evidence that he's going to speak truth to power," Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion MORE (D-Ore.) told reporters after the hearing.