Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats resigned his post over the weekend. Now, in a tweet, President Donald Trump says he will nominate Republican Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe, to fill Coats’ spot.
Scott Braddock, editor of the Texas politics publication, The Quorum Report, says Ratcliffe was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller during his congressional testimony last week.
“He was one of those who was sort of over the top, in the estimation of some, almost screaming at Mueller and saying that Mueller was completely out of line,” Braddock says.
He says Ratcliffe behaved similarly when former FBI Director James Comey testified about interference by Russia during the 2016 election, and about Trump, at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in 2017.
“[He] was absolutely one of the biggest cheerleaders and defenders and promoters of President Trump,” Braddock says.
He says Ratcliffe can be unabashedly pro-Trump because his district in Northeast Texas is solidly conservative.
“While Democrats were making historic gains all over Texas last year … in Ratcliffe’s district, he was winning with 76%,” Braddock says. “Among Republican voters [there], [Trump] enjoys, like, 90% approval.”
For Coats’ part, he and Trump didn’t always agree, but he has served as director of national intelligence since 2017 – a long tenure compared to other members of Trump’s cabinet. Coats is also a former senator.
By comparison, Ratcliffe, is a congressman with less national political experience. But he was mayor of the small city of Heath, and was a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
“He has been part of the national intelligence apparatus in the Bush administration, but doesn’t have the length of experience like … a Dan Coats,” Braddock says.
Ratcliffe isn’t a political outsider as Trump says he, himself, is. Rather, Ratcliffe is part of the “Republican establishment,” Braddock says. He worked for George W. Bush, as well as for Mitt Romney. Nonetheless, Braddock says Ratcliffe would likely be a Trump loyalist.
“The big fear here is that Trump is choosing somebody who’s only gonna tell him what he wants to hear when it comes to national security,” Braddock says.
It’s possible that he’d disagree with Trump, but not publicly.
The Senate will need to confirm Ratcliffe’s nomination, and if it’s approved, there will likely be a special election to fill Ratcliffe’s congressional seat, Braddock says.
Written by Caroline Covington.