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 BurrRep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina North Carolina — still purple but up for grabs North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (R-N.C.) said Monday he would work “swiftly” to begin the confirmation process for Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Pompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over 'intimidation' tactics Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE (R-Texas), President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech 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.


“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 CoatsSenate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security New federal cybersecurity lead says 'rumor control' site will remain up through January Biden soars as leader of the free world 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) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting 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 reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country MORE (R-S.C.) tweeted that the congressman “will be a worthy successor and has my full support.”

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him 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 SchumerChuck SchumerBipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms 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.