Back when Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his Deputy Sue Gordon both resigned under controversial circumstances, Donald Trump nominated Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe to be his new DNI. But Senate Republicans quickly began publicly voicing concern about Ratcliffe, and Trump had to withdraw the nomination. Now Ratcliffe is back in the news tonight in a bizarre way, and we’re not sure what to make of it.
Now that the Ukraine whistleblower scandal has exploded, it’s become clear in hindsight why everyone had spent the past two months treating the DNI position like it was for all the marbles. It was the DNI who was going to ultimately decide whether to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress, so Trump wanted a loyalist in the position, and the GOP Senate – for once – was hesitant to just let Trump do whatever he wanted.
We still don’t know what John Ratcliffe would have done if he’d become Director of National Intelligence. For that matter, we’re not sure what it is he’s doing tonight. As flagged by a number of eagle eyed Twitter users, this was entered into the official House of Representatives record this evening: “The House received a communication from the Honorable John Ratcliffe. Mr. Ratcliffe submitted his resignation from the Committee on Homeland Security. The resignation was accepted without objection.”
Also this evening, John Ratcliffe – in his separate role as a member of the House Intelligence Committee – got to read the whistleblower report. He then told the media that the whistleblower should indeed testify before Congress. This is all surreal. Donald Trump clearly thought that Ratcliffe was going to be a loyalist who would use the DNI position to do Trump’s bidding. But now Ratcliffe is resigning from one committee, and using his position on another committee to call for testimony that could get Trump ousted. Ratcliffe also came out against impeachment tonight, so go figure. What is Ratcliffe doing? We don’t know yet.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report