Representative John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, will be nominated to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, President Donald Trump said on Sunday.
“A former US Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves,” Trump said on Twitter. Coats will leave the position on August 15, and an acting director will be named shortly, the president said.
Ratcliffe, 53, has a reputation as a staunch conservative and an ally of Trump. He has a 96 per cent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, and earned a 100 per cent in the most recent session score from Heritage Action for America.
The relationship between Trump and intelligence officials has been strained during Coats’ two-year tenure. Coats has at times clashed with the president and taken issue with Trump’s assertions about Russian interference.
If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Ratcliffe would become the sixth person to serve as the director of national intelligence, a position that was created after the September 11 attacks to promote better coordination among the country’s intelligence agencies.
Amid whispers that Coats was on the way out, conservative allies of the president, including Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, favoured Ratcliffe as a replacement.
Ratcliffe met privately with Trump at the White House on July 19 to discuss taking the job, administration officials said.
Ratcliffe sharply questioned Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, at last week’s hearing and accused him of not following Justice Department guidelines after Mueller said he could not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice charges.
If a special counsel cannot bring charges, Ratcliffe argued, he should not presume to say a target was not cleared.
“So, Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle as they do dramatic readings from this report,” Ratcliffe said of the part of Mueller’s report that described how the president sought to impede the investigation, “that Volume II of this report was not authorised under the law to be written.”
On Sunday morning, Ratcliffe said on Fox News that Democrats “accused Donald Trump of a crime, and then they try and reverse engineer a process to justify that accusation.”
“I’m not going to accuse any specific person of any specific crime, I just want there to be a fair process to get there,” he added. “What I do know, as a former federal prosecutor, is that it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration.”
Ratcliffe is the son of two teachers and the youngest of six children, according to his website. He graduated from high school in Illinois, attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Ratcliffe was the mayor of Heath, Texas, and served as a US attorney and federal terrorism prosecutor. According to his website, he once “arrested 300 illegal aliens in a single day.”
He was elected to the House in 2014 with the support of Tea Party activists, unseating in a primary the incumbent Republican representative, Ralph Hall, who at 91 was the oldest member of the House. His campaign platform included support for the Second Amendment and strong border security, as well as opposition to the Affordable Care Act and government spending.
Ratcliffe is the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.