President Trump on Sunday announced that Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe, and the staunch White House ally, will replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence (DNI), following months of speculation and public spats between the president and the intelligence community
The move prompts immediate outrage from many Democrats who
A source close to the matter told Fox News that Coats never saw his 2017 appointment as a long-term proposition. Ratcliffe has been well-versed in the intelligence community after driving key sections of ongoing Republican led investigations into apparent Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by the FBI and Justice Department, "Fox News is told
" I'm pleased to Announcing that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence, "Trump tweeted
" A former US Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves, "Trump added. "Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th, and I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country."
Coats often appeared out of step with Trump during his two-year tenure, and their frayed relationship reflected broader divisions between the president and the government's intelligence agencies.
For example, Coats revealed to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators how Trump, angry over investigations into links between his campaign
"Coats responded that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has nothing to do with investigations and it was not his role "It's a good idea to make a public statement on Russia's investigation," Mueller's report said.
And, last year at the Aspen Security Forum, Coats did a double-take when host Andrea Mitchell
"Say that again?" he asked, to laughter in the audience.
"Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me"
Coats later said he meant no disrespect to Trump and admitted the moment was "awkward. "In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has condemned Ratcliffe's selection," said Coats said in a statement.
During his questioning, Ratcliffe told Mueller that he acted improperly – and trampled on the presumption of innocence – by saying in his report that Trump had not been " exonerated. "
" It's clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he had a blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, "Schumer said. "If the Senate Republicans elevate such a party player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake."
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., Meanwhile, praised Coats'
Reaction from Republican lawmakers to Ratcliffe's selection seemed positive across the board. House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., Named Ratcliffe and "excellent pick to be a director of national intelligence."
"His Homeland Security Committee and former Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee chairman will serve him well in this new role, "Rogers said. "I thank Director Coats for his leadership and years of public service."
And, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Ratcliffe was a "great pick."
TRUMP AT WAR
Speculation about Coats' ouster had been lingering in recent days, Sources told Fox News earlier this month that Trump spoke to two people recently about the job. at the time were Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Fred Fleitz, who previously served as Chief of Staff to National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Trump raised the possibility of work with Fleitz as far back as a February and asked if he was interested but did not offer it to him officially.It's unclear how many other potential candidates might have been in the mix. "It was tweeted in January, after Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel testified about a threat-assessment report that called into question some of Trump's foreign policy judgments.
Coats said North Korea would be "unlikely" to give up its nuclear weapons or its ability to produce them because "its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival." Coats and other officials also contradicted Trump's positions on Iran, Afghanistan, and the Islamic State terror network.
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passionate and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. Trump responded. "When I became President, Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East and beyond."
Ratcliffe, by contrast, appeared to be a source of potential danger and conflict. to be on the same page as the president. He grilled Mueller and Democrats at last week's congressional hearings and told Fox News on Sunday that Mueller had effectively destroyed the presumption of innocence by saying that Trump had not been "exonerated."
"By requiring Donald Trump to prove his innocence, they "Ratcliffe, who won a re-election with more than one, was deprived of the one thing that can not be deprived of, which is a presumption of innocence", Ratcliffe said in an interview with Fox News. "Sunday Morning Futures."
70% of the vote in his district in 2018 echoed that argument in House Judiciary Committee hearings.
"The special counsel's job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump's innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him, "Ratcliffe told Mueller.
He added:" So, Americans need to know this as they listen to Democrats and Socialists on the other side of the aisle as they do drama tic readings from this report that Volume II of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department and it was written in violation of any DOJ principle about extra prosecutorial comment, "he continued." I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He's not. "
A Republican former senator from Indiana, Coats was appointed director of national intelligence in March 2017, becoming the fifth person to
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Coats had been among the last of the seasoned foreign policy hands that came to surround the president after his 2016 victory, of which the president steadily grew tired as he gained more personal confidence in the Oval Office, officials said. and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and later, national security adviser HR McMaster.
Coats developed a reputation within the administration for sober presentations to the president of intelligence conclusions that occasionally
Fox News' John Roberts, Catherine Herridge, Gillian Turner and The Associated Press