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 BurrHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role Trump withdraws Ratcliffe as Intelligence pick MORE (R-N.C.) said Monday he would work “swiftly” to begin the confirmation process for Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: YouTube disables 200+ accounts over Hong Kong misinformation | Lawmakers sound alarm over Chinese influence efforts | DHS cyber agency details priorities | State AGs get tough on robocalls | DOJ busts online scammers Lawmakers sound alarm on China's disinformation campaign in Hong Kong President Trump is right: Mainstream media 'do a very good job' MORE (R-Texas), President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative 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 Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 GrahamWhat would John McCain do? Sunday shows preview: Trump ratchets up trade war with China White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts MORE (R-S.C.) tweeted that the congressman “will be a worthy successor and has my full support.”

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsAn ode to Joe Manchin's patriotism on his birthday Susan Collins challenger hit with ethics complaints over reimbursements Overnight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost 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 SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? 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.