Washington: US President Donald Trump said that he will again nominate John Ratcliffe for a second time as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Trump made the announcement on Twitter on Friday, saying: “Would have completed process earlier, but John wanted to wait until after IG Report was finished. John is an outstanding man of great talent,” Xinhua news agency reported.
Trump first offered the job to the Republican Congressman after Dan Coats stepped down from the post in July 2019, but Ratcliffe withdrew himself from consideration as lawmakers from both parties cast doubt on his qualifications, citing his lack of experience in the intelligence community.
Earlier this month, Trump appointed US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting DNI and is due on March 11 to formally pick a candidate for a permanent role in that post, pending approval from the Senate.
While saying he looks forward to “receiving Congressman Ratcliffe’s official nomination and ushering it through the Senate’s regular order”, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, stressed the vital nature of the DNI.
“The work our Intelligence Community does is vital for ensuring America’s safety, security, and success. I’ve appreciated the dedication and skill the men and women of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have shown over the last several months during a period of transition,” Burr said.
On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made clear in a statement that he opposes Ratcliffe’s nomination.
“Replacing one highly partisan operative with another does nothing to keep our country safe,” the New York Democrat said on Friday, adding that “neither Acting Director Grenell nor Rep. Ratcliffe comes even close to” qualifying for the job.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also lashed out at Trump’s announcement, saying intelligence “should never be guided by partisanship or politics”.
“Unfortunately, Congressman Ratcliffe has shown an unacceptable embrace of conspiracy theories and a clear disrespect and distrust of our law enforcement and intelligence patriots that disqualify him from leading America’s intelligence community,” she added.
The DNI is a Cabinet-level official in the government that serves as the head of the 17-member US Intelligence Community, a group of separate intelligence agencies and subordinate organisations engaging in intelligence activities that support American foreign policy and national security.