Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) is back under consideration as a potential pick to serve as President Trump’s next Director of National Intelligence (DNI), sources confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.
Ratcliffe was considered for the role last year, but he withdrew from consideration in August amid media scrutiny about his résumé and questions about his experience.
Trump at the time blamed the media for derailing Ratcliffe as his pick to replace Dan Coats, but the Texas Republican also faced resistance from key GOP senators like Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and others whose support he would have needed to secure confirmation in the Senate.
It is unclear if Burr has changed his view on Ratcliffe. Burr and his office have declined to comment on media reports about possible DNI picks.
Nevertheless, sources say Ratcliffe is one of the four or so candidates under consideration for the top role overseeing the intelligence community. His competition includes U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra.
Sources previously told The Hill that Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a former Air Force pilot, is also under consideration.
CNN first reported that Ratcliffe is again under consideration for the DNI post.
Trump has said he expects to announce his nominee in the next week or so.
“We are talking to five different people right now, all people you know, all people you respect,” Trump said Tuesday during a press conference in India. “I will make a decision probably over the next week to two weeks.”
Both Ratcliffe and Stewart sit on the House Intelligence Committee, a key panel during the information-gathering portion of the Democrat-led House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.
Ratcliffe and Stewart both captured attention during the public impeachment hearings as they vigorously defended the president against allegations that he sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals.
Hoekstra, a former Michigan congressman turned Trump surrogate, served from 2004-2007 as the chair of the House Intelligence panel.
Trump last week tapped Richard Grenell to take over for Joseph Maguire and serve as his acting DNI, prompting fierce attacks from Democrats and other critics who argue that his appointment was based solely on loyalty and not experience in intelligence matters. Grenell, a vocal Trump supporter, previously served as a spokesman for the United Nations.
Allies of the president praised Grenell, asking whether he could be blamed for wanting to put a loyal ally after facing multiple federal and congressional investigations about his conduct that involved decisions made by the intelligence community.
Trump reportedly moved to oust Maguire after a senior DNI official briefed the House Intelligence Committee about Russian efforts to aid his reelection bid. Subsequent reports say the briefer may have overstated the assessment
on 2020 Russian interference.
The president is said to have viewed the briefing as an act of disloyalty, in part because it involved sharing information with a House panel led by one of his political foes, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). He also reportedly said the briefing should not have occurred, while denying the analysis by intelligence officials and claiming the intelligence community is being “played.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has also acknowledged that intelligence officials notified his campaign that Russia was seeking to interfere, with The Washington Post reporting last week that Russia has sought to help his presidential campaign.