Trump Announces Rep. John Ratcliffe to Replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence

July 28, 2019 Updated: July 30, 2019

President Donald Trump announced on July 28 that Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), will be leaving his office in the coming weeks and is to be replaced by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).

The departure of Coats, who has often clashed with the president over how to handle Russia, Iran, and North Korea, comes after months of speculation. Trump said Coats will be leaving the role on Aug. 15.

“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump said on Twitter. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves.”

“I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly,” Trump continued.

Ratcliffe, who has served in Congress since 2015, recently defended Trump during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony earlier this week.

During that hearing, Ratcliffe also accused Mueller of exceeding his authority in the report’s discussion of potential obstruction of justice by Trump after Mueller decided not to draw a conclusion on whether Trump committed a crime, despite detailing examples of potential obstruction. The congressman agreed that Trump was not above the law, but said the president should not be “below the law” either.

“By requiring Donald Trump to prove his innocence, they were depriving him of the one thing no one can be deprived of, which is a presumption of innocence,” Ratcliffe said in an interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Reresentative John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during a House Intelligence Committee hearing
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) questions former special counsel Robert Mueller during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 24, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Mueller, in his testimony on July 24, declined to answer House Republicans who pressed him about the origins of the Russia probe, the perceived double standard employed by his staff, and other longstanding mysteries of his 22-month investigation.

Mueller, who concluded his investigation in late May, was unable to establish that Trump or anyone on his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Before Ratcliffe served in Congress, he was the mayor for Heath, Texas, a U.S. attorney, and a federal terrorism prosecutor, according to his official biography. Ratcliffe also serves on the Intelligence, Homeland Security, Judiciary, and Ethics committees.

“Ratcliffe put terrorists in prison, arrested 300 illegal aliens in a single day, and cracked down on drug trafficking and public corruption,” his website states.

Trump has clashed publicly with the intelligence community in the past.

In May, Trump referred on Twitter to a quote from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that “Intelligence Agencies were used against an American President.” Nunes is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier this year, Trump had also accused the intelligence community of being too soft on Iran.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran,” he said on Twitter in January. “They are wrong!” he said, in part.

The post of director of national intelligence—created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States—oversees the 17 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies, including the CIA.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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