Nonetheless, the incident was used to highlight a lack of coordination between the White House and the intelligence community with Coats often being the bearer of bad news. President Trump was vocal about his disagreements with Coats, reportedly telling him behind the scenes to stay quiet about threats of Russian meddling and even calling him out publicly in certain settings.
“Can you give me an example, other than Donald Trump, where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined? …You can’t find it because, I’ll tell you why, it doesn’t exist.”
On Sunday, President Trump announced Republican Representative John Ratcliffe will take over as Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Ratcliffe has long been considered to be a Trump ally, but apparently made an impression during his interrogation of Robert Mueller. He had this to say during the hearing:
The latest change at the DNI could be a sign that the president is looking to downsize the department altogether in order to concentrate on information sharing efforts. Coats is expected to leave the department on Thursday, August 15th with the president saying an active director will be named in the near future.
There’s another shake-up in the Trump administration, with the latest move likely having a trickle-effect throughout the rest of the government.
The Texas congressman was already a rising star in the Republican Party after winning his election with more than 70-percent of the vote in the 2018 midterms. Ratcliffe was facing off against other high profile officials for the job, including chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford. He also challenged Fred Fleitz, the former Chief of Staff for National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas., asks questions to former special counsel Robert Mueller, as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Ratcliffe will now be elevated to a post where the current official, Dan Coats, has often been at odds with the president and his administration. Perhaps the most memorable event during his tenure was his response after learning President Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House. When asked about the invitation he laughed and acted as if it were a joke. Coats later said he meant no disrespect to the White House and admitted the exchange was somewhat awkward.
In January, Coats again was reportedly in Trump’s dog house when he told a Senate committee that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, which contradicted the president’s more optimistic view. At last year’s Aspen Security Forum, Coats reportedly angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president’s ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer slammed on Sunday President Donald Trump’s choice of Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, The Hill reported. “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 ” Schumer said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the successor for Coats “must put patriotism before politics, and remember that his oath is to protect the Constitution and the American people, not the President.” Trump had reportedly soured on Coats several times during his tenure. Axios reported that Trump was impressed by Ratcliffe’s performance during his questioning of Mueller at congressional hearings on Wednesday. Sen Eliabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, added in a tweet that “Our Director of National Intelligence should be above partisan politics, speak truth to power, and resist Trump’s abuses of authority. John Ratcliffe doesn’t fit that bill.” It is not yet clear how the Senate overall will react to Ratcliffe’s nomination, according to The Hill. However, his membership in the House Intelligence Committee will likely appeal to Republican senators.