Facing an uphill battle in the confirmation of his pick for a replacement for Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Donald Trump quickly abandoned the nomination of Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-TX) today with an announcement on Twitter this afternoon.
….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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2019
Trump’s tweet was an obvious attempt to rationalize his decision to withdraw the nomination by blaming the overwhelmingly negative media scrutiny of a candidate whose background has raised intense questions over his qualifications for the position.
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With the Director of National Intelligence being the highest-ranking official in the United States intelligence community, the statute establishing the position is very specific in stating that “under ordinary circumstances, it is desirable” that either the director or the principal deputy director of National Intelligence be an active-duty commissioned officer in the armed forces or have training or experience in military intelligence activities and requirements.
Given that Congressman Ratcliffe’s principal qualifications for the role would have been his status as a Trump loyalist and his willingness to investigate the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in American elections — and the involvement of the Trump campaign in that interference and its coverup — even some Republican Senators were skeptical of his suitability for the nomination.
By blaming the media rather than his own administration’s lack of proper vetting and of knowledge of the requirements of the law, Trump once again refuses to accept responsibility for his missteps.
He may call the mainstream media lame, but Trump’s excuse for withdrawing Representative Ratcliffe’s nomination is the lamest possible rationale for retreating from his initial decision.
While the failure of this particular nominee is good news for those who value an independent intelligence community, we’ll have to see whom Trump nominates next to fill the role before we start to celebrate.
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