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Trump nominates Congressman John Ratcliffe to be director of national intelligence

Trump nominates John Ratcliffe for DNI role
Trump nominates John Ratcliffe to be the new Director of National Intelligence 00:32

President Trump has nominated Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas to be director of national intelligence, he tweeted Friday afternoon. A source close to the process told CBS News "the choice of John Ratcliffe has been in the works for weeks, and the congressman is honored for the opportunity to serve POTUS and protect the nation as the head of the U.S. intelligence community." 

"Would have completed process earlier, but John wanted to wait until after IG Report was finished," he said. "John is an outstanding man of great talent!"

Mr. Trump has selected Ratcliffe for the job before, when Dan Coats left the job last year. Ratcliffe withdrew from consideration amid media scrutiny over whether he was qualified to take on the role. 

Questions had arisen over a claim that was in his congressional bio that he had "put terrorists in prison" when he was a prosecutor and U.S. attorney, since his name does not appear in court documents for any terrorism-related cases. His tenure on the Intelligence Committee had also been brief, and Republican support for his nomination was lukewarm. 

Congressional sources from both sides of the aisle predict a challenging confirmation process for Ratcliffe. Members of Congress have concerns about his lack of intelligence experience and his perceived lack of independence from the president.

Moving his confirmation out of the Senate Intelligence Committee alone will be tricky. The committee has eight Republicans and seven Democrats, and aides from both sides said it is entirely possible that all seven Democrats will vote no. 

Beyond that, the nomination potentially puts committee member Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who was one of the authors of the bill that created the DNI position in the first place, "in a very difficult spot," according to one Congressional source. Collins, a Republican, is up for reelection. 

Collins told reporters earlier this week that acting DNI Richard Grenell does not have enough experience for the job. Grenell has a far more extensive foreign affairs background than Ratcliffe. 

If Ratcliffe does not get the support of a majority of Senate Intelligence Committee members, his nomination can still be considered by the entire Senate – but the failed Committee vote would cast a pall over his nomination. 

One Republican senator, Richard Burr of North Carolina, issued a statement that had no support for Ratcliffe but did promise to usher his nomination through the process.

Ratcliffe currently represents the 4th District in Texas and serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. 

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Trump had tapped Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to be acting DNI, replacing Joseph Maguire in the position. Senate Democrats have called on the Justice Department to investigate whether Grenell had failed to inform the Justice Department about work he had done for foreign entities before joining the administration. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Nancy Cordes, Catherine Herridge, Major Garrett and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report. 

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