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Meet John Ratcliffe, Trump’s New Intelligence Nominee with Not a Lot of Intelligence Experience

Rep. John Ratcliffe has just over four years of experience in Washington — and not a lot in the intelligence field.

by Trone Dowd
Jul 29 2019, 7:28pm

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Rep. John Ratcliffe has just over four years of experience in Washington — and not a lot in the intelligence field. But that’s good enough for President Trump to nominate him for the top espionage position in his administration.

The president announced on Twitter Sunday afternoon that he wanted the 53-year-old Republican Congressman for the job recently vacated by Dan Coats.

“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 tweeted. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the country he loves.”

If confirmed, Ratcliffe would be the first person to take on the role of director of national intelligence without “significant experience” in the intelligence field, as pointed out by former Intelligence Director John McLaughlin, who served under presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

And Democrats aren’t happy with Ratcliffe’s lack of experience.

"It's clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Sunday.

“I'll certainly do my own evaluation, but it strikes me as a very inappropriate choice for the job in a moment when we are trying to lift intelligence out of the political soup,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy told MSNBC on Sunday.

But what Ratcliffe lacks in intelligence experience, he makes up for in his tried-and-true support of conservative ideals. Here’s what you need to know about his history.

He’s been one of Washington’s top conservatives

Ratcliffe has been a very vocal member of Congress since winning his seat in 2014 and

a supporter of many of the Trump administration’s policies.

He voted in favor of repealing Obamacare. He also wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai endorsing the end of net neutrality.

In February 2017, when Trump first proposed his immigration ban on Muslim countries, Ratcliffe supported the move right away.

“Providing for the common defense is the number one responsibility of the federal government, and I applaud President Trump’s new executive order for prioritizing this important goal,” he said at the time.

His staunch right-wing politics even earned a 96% lifetime approval rating from the American Conservative Union and a 100% rating from the Heritage Action for America Group.

He has championed anti-abortion bills

Ratcliffe is pro-life and has the record to prove it.

In his first year in Congress, he sponsored the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill sought to make abortions after 20 weeks illegal on the federal level.

The same year, he also supported the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would have significantly cut federal funding for reproductive health clinics around the country.

Both bills failed to go anywhere.

“The Declaration of Independence, the foundational document of this great country, boldly proclaims that every person is endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Ratcliffe said in a statement at the time. “It is tragic that over 50 million Americans have had that right to life denied as a result of abortion — literally a lost generation.”

He had his breakout moment scuffling with Bob Mueller

Ratcliffe became a conservative star last week during Mueller’s testimony in front of Congress. The Congressman, who sits on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, blasted Mueller for bringing up conclusions in his testimony that the investigation had not reached.

He also used his time to slam the Democrat-led investigation and declare his loyalty to both the GOP and the president.

“Americans need to know this as they listen to Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle, as they do dramatic readings from this report — that volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written,” Ratcliffe said.

Shortly after the testimony, an unnamed source told CNN that the performance was likely a move to get him in the running for an unnamed White House position.

He was once considered too nice for a White House position

Ratcliffe had been looked over once or twice in the past for a White House gig, but many Trump aides considered him too nice, according to unnamed sources cited by CNN. White House insiders thought Ratcliffe lacked the signature edge that many White House officials like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Stephen Miller have.

That quickly changed when Ratcliffe made his splash last week, according to CNN. Ratcliffe was also reportedly interested in the attorney general gig when Trump’s first appointee Jeff Sessions was ousted last year.

He has an extensive Republican resume

Ratcliffe seems pretty jazzed about the nomination. He took to social media to express his gratitude just hours after Trump made his announcement.

“I am deeply grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to lead our Nation’s intelligence community and work on behalf of all the public servants who are tirelessly devoted to defending the security and safety of the United States,” Ratcliffe tweeted. “President Trump’s call to serve in this role was not one I could ignore, and I am incredibly thankful to him for this great honor. I look forward to my new role with energy and focus.”

If confirmed, he’ll add another notch to his extensive resume.

He served as the mayor of Heath, Texas, from 2004 to 2012. Under President George W. Bush, he served as chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas. In 2007, he was named U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Texas. He was also an aide for Mitt Romney’s campaign for president in 2012.

Cover image: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, questions Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray, as they appear before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Justice Department and FBI actions around the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)