The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed the nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as director of national intelligence.
The final vote was 49-44.
All votes for Ratcliffe came from Republicans. All against came from Democrats except for one from Sen. Angus King (I-Vt.), who regularly caucuses with Democrats.
The vote came after strong protests from some senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Wyden on the Senate floor accused Ratcliffe of “danc[ing] around direct questions” when questioned by lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee and making “disturbing statements that make it clear that he has and will misrepresent and politicize intelligence without a moments hesitation.”
Schumer said he spoke with Ratcliffe over the phone and asked him to confirm the finding by intelligence agencies that Russia tried interfering in the 2016 election but Ratcliffe declined. Schumer incorrectly said that all 17 agencies said Russia engaged in a campaign to influence voters when only four agencies actually did.
Ratcliffe, 54, “is not the kind of DNI we need,” Schumer said. “I will vehemently oppose his nomination today,” he added, calling for colleagues to vote with him.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled he had enough votes, telling senators that Ratcliffe would lead the intelligence community against threats, rogue nations, and terrorists and ensure the work “is untainted by political bias.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who became acting Senate Intelligence chairman this week, voiced his support for Ratcliffe in a statement, saying the Texan understood the director of national intelligences “crucial role.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged Ratcliffe to remember that “transparency brings accountability” and that “the publics business ought to be public by its very nature.”
“The intelligence community is a secretive bunch. They often operate in the shadows and have to in order to do the job that we asked them to do to protect our national security. However, that doesnt mean when Congress asks them questions, the intelligence community has a license to withhold information. When Congress comes knocking, the intelligence community must answer,” he said.
Ratcliffe replaces Richard Grenell, a U.S. ambassador who was serving in the role temporarily.
Grassley said Grenell has been “a breath of fresh air,” adding that Ratcliffe has “some big shoes to fill, thats for sure.”
Grenell congratulated Ratcliffe in a statement. “You will be the best DNI ever!” he said.
Grenell made a number of moves, including declassifying a list of Obama administration officials who requested the unmasking, or denanonymizing, of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn when the retired military officer was Donald Trumps incoming national security advisor in late 2016 and early 2017.
Ratcliffe is seen by some as an ally ofRead More From Source