In a pair of tweets Friday, President Donald Trump said Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe had withdrawn his name from consideration for director of national intelligence after facing questions about his qualifications.
Trump said over the weekend that the current director, Dan Coats, would be leaving on Aug. 15 and that he’d picked Ratcliffe, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, to replace him. Ratcliffe has less experience than Coats, a former Indiana Republican senator, or previous national intelligence directors, and his confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate was in question.
Trump tweeted Friday that Ratcliffe was being “treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media,” and rather than enduring “months of slander and libel,” he has chosen to remain in the House.
Ratcliffe aggressively questioned former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III at a hearing last week, and the episode was replayed on conservative media outlets, including the president’s favorite, Fox News. Democrats warned that Ratcliffe would be a rubber stamp for the president.
Ratcliffe had been talked up by the president in the weeks leading up to his weekend announcement, and the news of Coats’ departure came as no surprise.
Ratcliffe tweeted Friday that he was “humbled and honored” Trump planned to nominate him and that he would have served in the post “with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve.”
“However, I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue,” he said. “The country we all love deserves that it be treated as an American issue.”
Niels Lesniewski and Emily Kopp contributed to this report.