Trump's pick to head intel finally gets Senate hearing after rocky start


Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) first had his nomination withdrawn after he was caught lying about his resume.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday is set to grill Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), who was nominated by Donald Trump to be director of national intelligence, a position national security experts have said he is woefully unqualified for.

Ratcliffe almost didn't make it to this hearing.

Trump withdrew Ratcliffe's nomination in August, after Ratcliffe was found to have inflated his qualifications and lied about convicting terror suspects when he served as a federal prosecutor.

Ratcliffe claimed to have "put terrorists in prison" when he served as a U.S. attorney, but his office couldn't name a single terrorist whose conviction Ratcliffe secured. That claim had appeared on Ratcliffe's bio on his congressional website, CNN reported in July after Ratcliffe's first nomination, but it has since been removed.

Ratcliffe was also dinged by members of the House Intelligence Committee — whom he would oversee if confirmed — as someone who didn't know about how the committee works and didn't make an effort to gain that knowledge during his own time serving on it.

Ratcliffe's main qualification for the role appears to be that he promotes Trump's baseless conspiracy theories.

As a fervent Trump loyalist, Ratcliffe attacked former special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. He also defended Trump against impeachment using bogus legal arguments — including that a president cannot be impeached over obstruction of justice. A president can be impeached for anything the House deems a "high crime or misdemeanor."

Back when Ratcliffe was first nominated to the role, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who will get a turn on Tuesday to question Ratcliffe, called the Texas Republican the "most partisan and least qualified individual ever nominated to serve as director of national intelligence."

"The sum total of his qualifications appears to be his record of promoting Donald Trump's conspiracy theories about the investigation into Russian interference and calling for prosecution of Trump's political enemies," Wyden said at the time.

Still, despite all of that criticism, Trump renominated Ratcliffe to the role in February.

And while Senate Republicans appeared hesitant to back Ratcliffe last year, they look poised to confirm him now, CNN reported.

If confirmed, Ratcliffe will oversee the entire intelligence community, which Trump has attacked at every turn, questioning their conclusions on everything from Russia's meddling in the 2016 election to North Korea.

Ratcliffe would replace Richard Grenell, the current acting director of national intelligence who has even fewer qualifications than Ratcliffe — aside from his willingness to defend Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.