Intel Chairman Says He’ll Vote for Trump’s DNI Pick

May 5, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2020

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Tuesday he’ll vote for Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), President Donald Trump’s nominee for director of national intelligence.

Ratcliffe “understands the challenges facing the Intelligence Community in the 21st century and is ready to work to meet them,” Burr said in a statement.

“He is has committed to working with our Committee and with Congress to ensure proper oversight and information sharing. And he has pledged to support the men and women of the Intelligence Community in their steadfast work.”

Burr said he looked forward to advancing the nomination and supporting it when it comes before the full Senate.

The statement came after Ratcliffe answered questions from Burr’s committee in Washington.

Ratcliffe told senators he wouldn’t distort findings if he becomes director of national intelligence (DNI).

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Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 5, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/Reuters)

“Let me be very clear: Regardless of what anyone wants our intelligence to reflect, the intelligence I will provide, if confirmed, will not be impacted or altered as a result of outside influence,” he told the committee. The intelligence community will be “laser focused” on finding out how the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus started if he’s confirmed, Ratcliffe said.

The congressman, who was nominated last year for the same position before Trump withdrew the nomination, said he wasn’t sure what Trump meant when he said in 2019 that intelligence agencies had “run amok.”

Asked by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) whether he would convey findings to Trump even he knew Trump disagreed with them and that doing so could cost him his job, he said “of course.”

Ratcliffe was on a team of advisors to Trump as the Senate in January weighed whether to convict the president on articles of impeachment approved by the House. He called the impeachment “the thinnest, fastest, and weakest impeachment our country has ever seen.”

Ratcliffe also appeared to earn the support of Collins, who said last week that she spoke with him before concluding he has the experience “to meet the statutory standard to fill the position.”

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Senate Intelligence Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-Va.) speaks during a hearing on the nomination of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) for director of national intelligence, on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 5, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

No Democrats appeared to indicate positive votes for the nomination and Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he didn’t know what changed since Ratcliffe was nominated and then withdrawn for consideration for DNI.

Republicans control the Senate with 53 members. Democrats have 45 senators. The two independents typically vote with Democrats.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, was named acting DNI in February, replacing Joseph Maguire.

The director of national intelligence position was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks against the United States. The director oversees 17 civilian and military intelligence agencies, including the CIA.

The president makes nominations to the position, but the post requires approval from the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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