GOP chairman to move 'swiftly' on Ratcliffe nomination to intelligence post

GOP chairman to move 'swiftly' on Ratcliffe nomination to intelligence post
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrEx-CIA agent: Whistleblower's complaint 'should be considered on its merits' Senate Intel chair: Whistleblower hasn't agreed to testify before panel Juan Williams: Trump, the conspiracy theory president MORE (R-N.C.) said Monday he would work “swiftly” to begin the confirmation process for Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeGOP searches for impeachment boogeyman Democrats claim new momentum from intelligence watchdog testimony Hillicon Valley: Senate passes bill to boost cyber help for agencies, businesses | Watchdog warns Energy Department failing to protect grid | FTC sues Match for allegedly conning users MORE (R-Texas), President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE’s choice to be the next director of national intelligence.

While he did not offer an explicit endorsement of Ratcliffe, Burr said he called the Texas Republican on Sunday to “congratulate” him on the pending nomination.

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“When the White House submits its official nomination to the Senate Intelligence Committee, we will work to move it swiftly through regular order,” Burr said in a statement.

Burr noted that he looks forward to working with outgoing Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats281 lobbyists have worked in Trump administration: report Former intelligence chief Coats rejoins law firm Remembering leaders who put country above party MORE’s deputy, Sue Gordon, describing her as “a trusted partner to our Committee.”

He also praised Coats, recognizing him for making “significant progress” in addressing foreign election interference during his tenure and sounding the alarm over “growing aggression” from Russia, China and Iran.

“America is better prepared for the threats we face thanks to Dan Coats’ leadership of our Intelligence Community,” Burr said, praising the former Indiana senator for his “integrity and sound judgment.”

Trump announced Coats’s resignation in a series of tweets Sunday evening, saying the intelligence chief would leave the administration on Aug. 15. Coats clashed with Trump on a number of fronts, including Russian election interference and intelligence assessments about Iran and North Korea, during more than two years on the job.

The president also revealed Sunday that he would nominate Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor and one of the president’s fierce defenders in the House, for the position.

Gordon had been expected to fill the role in the interim, but Trump didn't immediately announce an acting director, saying he would do so "shortly."

Trump said he would name an acting director of national intelligence "shortly," suggesting Gordon will not fill the role in the interim since he didn't tap her on Sunday.

Ratcliffe had been rumored as a potential candidate for various administration posts. He played an integral role in GOP efforts to investigate the origins of the probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

More recently, Ratcliffe attracted attention for his stern questioning of Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE during congressional testimony last week, when he accused the former special counsel of not complying with Justice Department rules by declining to exonerate Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice.

Ratcliffe, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, is likely to face questions about his qualifications during his confirmation process, as critics have argued he does not have extensive experience in the area.

Still, he’s more likely than not to be confirmed by the Senate barring major controversy, since Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber. 

Ratcliffe will need to attend a conformation hearing and be approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee before his nomination goes to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Senate Republicans expressed disappointment at Coats’s resignation in public statements; few have weighed in on Ratcliffe’s nomination, though Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he shares Kurdish 'concerns' over cease-fire Majority of Americans believe Trump's Syria move has damaged US reputation: poll Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' MORE (R-S.C.) tweeted that the congressman “will be a worthy successor and has my full support.”

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Maine), another Intelligence Committee member, described Coats’s departure as “a huge loss to our country.”

Meanwhile, Ratcliffe has come under criticism from Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback MORE (D-N.Y.) asserted that he was selected for the role “because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of” Mueller.

“If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake,” Schumer said.

Updated at 1:58 p.m.