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Senate Confirms John Ratcliffe as Director of National Intelligence

John Ratcliffe testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Representative John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) was confirmed as national intelligence director by the Senate on Thursday, securing President Trump’s preferred pick for the position despite Democrat protests.

The Senate voted by party lines to confirm Ratcliffe, 49-44 — the most votes against the confirmation of any DNI in the 15-year history of the office. The Texas Republican cleared a major hurdle earlier this week after the Senate Intelligence Committee approved his appointment, despite expressing doubts about Ratcliffe last year.

President Trump chose Ratcliffe to succeed former DNI Dan Coats, who left the post last August, but withdrew him from contention after it appeared unlikely Senate Republicans would back him. The president then re-tapped Ratcliffe in February, saying “John wanted to wait” until the release of the Justice Department inspector general’s report, which detailed errors in the FBI’s investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign.

In a March interview, Ratcliffe pushed back on critics who cited his lack of intelligence experience.

“I haven’t served in an intelligence agency. I think that bringing a different kind of experience today is really going to be vitally important,” Ratcliffe explained to CBS’s Catherine Herridge. “You know all of the experience in the world isn’t helpful without judgment, and I think what we’ve seen is that some of our most experienced intelligence officials have gotten it wrong with respect to important issues.”

Ratcliffe said during his confirmation hearing earlier this month that he was looking forward to “being out of politics,” and swayed moderate Republicans with assurances of impartiality.

“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.

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