Trump pick for head of intelligence withdraws consideration

Rep. John Ratcliffe says he asked Trump to nominate someone else to replace Dan Coats as head of national intelligence.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) has withdrawn from consideration to serve as head of national intelligence, just days after announcing he would nominate him to replace Dan Coats.

"Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people ... John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly," Trump tweeted on Friday afternoon.

Trump announced on Sunday that Coats will step down as the director of national intelligence on August 15.

His abrupt announcement on Friday came after days of scrutiny of Ratcliffe's background and past statements critical of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, reported The Hill.

Several Republican senators had declined to weigh in on his nomination, as he withstood a barrage of criticism from Democrats for being too political for the role.

Trump had not officially nominated Ratcliffe.

Several news reports have described Ratcliffe as overstating parts of his biography relating to his work on terrorism cases as a federal prosecutor in Texas since Trump announced his intention to nominate him on Sunday.

Ratcliffe said in a statement that he asked Trump to nominate someone else for the position, explaining he didn’t want the debate around his nomination “however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue.”

"While I am and will remain very grateful to the President for his intention to nominate me as Director of National Intelligence, I am withdrawing from consideration,” Ratcliffe said, according to The Hill.

“I was humbled and honored that the President put his trust in me to lead our nation's intelligence operations and remain convinced that when confirmed, I would have done so with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve,” he continued. “However, I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue.”

Coats’ resignation came following a lengthy period in which he was at odd with Trump over several issues, most notably North Korea and Russia.

Last year, Coats said that, while it is technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program within a year, it was not really likely to happen. The comments contrasted the President's assertion that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will move toward giving up his nuclear weapons.

In July 2018, Trump stood beside Russian President Vladimir Putin and publicly said he doubted US spies' assessment that Russia had tried to interfere in the election, declaring that Putin had vigorously denied it.

Coats afterward issued a statement reiterating the conclusion that Moscow had indeed worked to sway the election results. Shortly afterward, while onstage at a conference, the intelligence director was visibly surprised by an announcement that Trump was planning on inviting Putin to Washington.

"That's going to be special," Coats quipped. He later apologized and said he had not meant to be disrespectful to the President.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)