The Senate has voted 49-to-44 to confirm Rep. John Ratcliffe as the next director of national intelligence.
The United States Senate has confirmed John Ratcliffe as our new Director of National Intelligence. @ODNIgov
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) May 21, 2020
TheHill reports the Senate on Thursday confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be President Trump’s next spy chief.
Senators voted 49-44 on Ratcliffe’s nomination to the director of national intelligence, a position that has been filled in an acting capacity since former DNI Dan Coats stepped down in August 2019.
The vote is one of the final items on the Senate’s to-do list before the chamber leaves town for a week-long Memorial Day recess. And it comes only days after the Senate Intelligence Committee advanced Ratcliffe’s nomination along party lines.
Democrats allowed Ratcliffe’s nomination to skip over procedural hurdles that could have delayed his confirmation until June, in a sign that senators want a Senate-confirmed DNI and that acting DNI Richard Grenell is deeply unpopular.
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to oppose his nomination ahead of Thursday’s vote, saying that he has “not demonstrated the qualities for the independence that we should expect.”
“It requires someone with unimpeachable integrity, deep experience and the independence and backbone to speak truth to power. That’s what DNI’s, including the previous one, Dan Coats, did. Unfortunately, Mr. Ratcliffe doesn’t even come close to meeting that high bar,” Schumer added.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, added that Ratcliffe has made “extremely disturbing statements that make it clear that he has and will misrepresent and politicize intelligence.”
Ratcliffe’s confirmation was the most political vote that has occurred for what has traditionally been viewed as an apolitical position. He’s the sixth Senate-confirmed DNI since the position was created. Coats was confirmed 85-12 for the post in 2017. James Clapper, his Senate-confirmed predecessor, was confirmed by a voice vote.
Trump initially said last year that he intended to nominate Ratcliffe to the post, but the Texas congressman withdrew his name from consideration amid reports that he inflated his résumé.
He’s gained a reputation as a loyalist to Trump, including serving as part of a group of House Republicans who were advisers to the president’s impeachment team.
Ratcliffe enters the post at a crucial time in the lead up to the 2020 election, where intelligence officials have warned of attempts by Russia to meddle.
The position also puts him in the middle of escalating GOP investigations into decisions stemming from the Obama-era, with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urging the intelligence community to comply with their requests to hand over information as part of their controversial investigations. Grenell recently handed over a list of Obama administration officials who “unmasked” former national security adviser Michael Flynn.