If you ever want to see Donald Trump blink, your best bet is to wait until Friday afternoon, when Trump likes to take advantage of the fact that people tend to focus on the weekend and pay less attention to the news. Sure enough, Trump just blinked by yanking his intended pick, Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe, from consideration for the nomination as the next Director of National Intelligence following Dan Coats’ recent resignation.
Trump announced the news via Twitter this afternoon, beginning by complaining that “Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media.” Trump then claimed he is doing Ratcliffe a favor because he “explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people” and “go through months of slander and libel.” Trump claimed the decision to withdraw from consideration was made by Ratcliffe so that he can “stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country.” Trump then added that he will be announcing his nomination for DNI “shortly.”
Trump likes people who fully embrace and defend him. Ratcliffe’s loyalty to Trump was on full display in his aggressive questioning of Robert Mueller at the recent House Judiciary Committee hearing. Also, a look at Trump’s past picks for roles in his administration reveals Trump’s upside-down belief that the less experience a person has that would normally qualify someone for a position, the better. But as Dianne Feinstein pointed out in a statement on Tuesday, Ratcliffe’s lack of experience in intelligence may be so severe as to disqualify him for the role, which by law requires “extensive national security expertise.”
The more the spotlight has shined on Ratcliffe, the more questions have been surfacing about his qualifications and even his ability to be honest with the American people. Several media reports have noted major discrepancies between what Ratcliffe claims to have accomplished in his career versus what happened. For example, after investigating Ratcliffe’s claim on his Web site that in 2008, “[a]s a U.S. Attorney, I arrested over 300 illegal immigrants on a single day,” the Washington Post determined the number was only 45, that Ratcliffe was hardly involved, and that “the operation was a costly failure.”
As Feinstein pointed out, the DNI is a serious position that requires oversight of our nation’s 17 intelligence agencies with a combined budget of more than $60 billion. The DNI must make sure that “the intelligence community provides timely, objective intelligence that is independent of political considerations and that our nation’s intelligence activities are consistent with our law and policy.” In a series of tweets following Trump’s announcement, Ratcliffe insisted he would have indeed fulfilled his duties “with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve.” Fortunately for America, Ratcliffe won’t get the opportunity to prove it.