Senate Committee Approves Ratcliffe as Intelligence Director, Setting up Confirmation Vote

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Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questions Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, November 20, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Pool via Reuters)

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved President Trump’s appointment of Representative John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) as national intelligence director in a straight party-line vote Tuesday, setting up a confirmation vote on the Senate floor.

The closed-door vote finished 8-7 in favor of Republicans. Ratcliffe, a close Trump ally, was initially chosen by the president to replace former DNI Dan Coats last year, but was withdrawn after Senate Republicans expressed doubt over his credentials.

“I think there were many of the same concerns that were raised when he first came up in August,” Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner (D., Va.) said after the vote Tuesday. But Republicans on the committee — now led by Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) — backed the nomination the second time around.

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In his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Ratcliffe said he was looking forward to “being out of politics.” He also said he would protect whistleblowers and would deliver intelligence to the president, even if he disagreed with it.

“Whether you are talking about the president, whether you are talking about Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell — anyone’s views on what they want the intelligence to be will never impact the intelligence that I deliver. Never,” the Texas Republican stated.

Senator Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) told reporters that Ratcliffe is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, where Republicans control the majority, in a vote likely to be held after Memorial Day. If confirmed, he will replace current acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell, whom Trump appointed in February.

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