Tag Archives: John Ratcliffe

How on Earth does this POTUS do the right thing?

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe’s decision to pull out of the director of national intelligence job puts Donald John Trump squarely in the middle of a quandary he seems to have no interest in solving.

Trump selected the toadie Ratcliffe — a Northeast Texas congressman — to succeed Dan Coats as DNI, only to face a storm of criticism over Ratcliffe’s partisan leanings and allegations that he embellished his resume. Trump blamed the media for doing their job in “vetting” this individual.

Ratcliffe is out. Coats will be gone Aug. 15. Who will fill the vital job as head of the nation’s intelligence network? How in the world does this president do the right thing and find someone who (a) is willing to work for Donald Trump and (b) would provide Trump with the critical analysis of the existential security threats to the nation.

More to the point, how does Trump resist the impulse to rely on those who tell him what he wants to hear and ignores what he needs to hear?

Coats and other intelligence chiefs said the same thing: Russia attacked our election in 2016. Trump has dismissed them. Indeed, just this week he said former special counsel Robert Mueller — who said yet again that the Russians posed a serious threat to our electoral system — didn’t know what he was talking about.

The heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians attacked us.

Coats spoke “truth to power.” Ratcliffe spoke quite the opposite.

What in the world is Donald Trump going to do to fill this job? He needs critical thinking. He needs to hear the truth. He needs to be told where the threats exist and he needs to consider strategies to protect our system against further assaults from Russia and perhaps other hostile powers.

Who in the world is willing to provide what the president of the United States won’t accept?

OK, Mr. President, look for a legitimate DNI nominee

Donald J. Trump has yanked John Ratcliffe’s name from consideration as the next Director of National Intelligence.

Ratcliffe, the congressman from Northeast Texas who also happens to be a staunch — damn near rabid — Trump supporter, had no business being considered for the top job in our nation’s vast intelligence-gathering and analysis network.

Why? Because he demonstrated a palpable disregard for the work done by Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who has said categorically that Russians attacked our electoral system in  2016 and were poised to do it again in 2020.

Ratcliffe, moreover, reportedly embellished his resume, suggesting he had taken part in anti-terror operations while serving as U.S. attorney in East Texas when he did no such thing.

Trump, though, said the media would “slander and libel” him, and suggested that Ratcliffe remain in Congress.

Hey, here’s an idea for the president to consider. He ought to find someone with the gravitas of the outgoing DNI, former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, who is leaving because he and Trump had disagreements over the very thing we’ve been discussing here: the Russian threat to our democratic process. Coats blames the Russians for behaving with evil intent; Trump sides with the Russians. Game over for DNI Coats.

Oh, wait! Just how does the president find a grownup such as Coats to take over the DNI job if he’s going to insist that the intelligence presented to him is phony, that it’s wrong and that the Russians aren’t doing what the spooks are telling him?

Ratcliffe wasn’t qualified for the DNI job, the alleged embellishment notwithstanding. The POTUS needs a DNI to tell him what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear.

As for the media that did their job, they performed a valuable public service in outing Ratcliffe as a Donald Trump toadie who wasn’t up to the job.

Trump can’t stomach being told the truth

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate John Ratcliffe as the country’s next Director of National Intelligence reveals a frightening, outrageous aspect of how the president wants to run our national security network … as if we didn’t see this already.

Ratcliffe is a congressman from Northeast Texas, representing a district once represented by the late, great Sam Rayburn. Ratcliffe would succeed Dan Coats as DNI and would be charged — according to the playbook — with providing the president unvarnished analysis of the threats to the nation’s security.

Ratcliffe is not wired that way. Coats has done it, as have many of the preceding DNIs who have held the office.

Trump wants a “loyalist,” someone who likely adheres to his own idiotic view that the Russian hack of our 2016 election is a “hoax” cooked up by the “fake news” and Democratic opponents.

Can there be anything more inherently frightening than to have a DNI who cannot or will not tell the president the truth? More to the point, can there be anything more dangerous to the nation to have a president who won’t hear the truth?

Rep. Ratcliffe showed his partisan stripes while questioning former special counsel Robert Mueller this past week. He challenged Mueller’s probe into the Russian electoral attack. As some commentators have noted, Ratcliffe appeared to be auditioning for the nomination once it became known that DNI Coats would be “stepping down.”

For the ever-lovin’ life of me I cannot grasp how this president continues to lie, deceive and flim-flam his way through the duties to which he has been charged. Even more astonishing is how he manages to cling to that 38 to 40 percent core of Americans who insist he is “telling it like it is” and speaks for them.

John Ratcliffe comes from that fervent base of Trump supporters. The nation does not need a Trump lackey in the post of DNI, which requires someone who is unafraid to tell the president the hard truth about the existential threats that put this country in danger.

If the president has a vast reservoir of talent waiting for the call to come to work in the White House — which he boasts of having — he can do a lot better than John Ratcliffe as head of the nation’s intelligence apparatus.

My fear, though, is that he doesn’t care about quality. It’s all about political loyalty.

Dangerous.

Tepid GOP response to DNI pick might signal an actual break

What in the name of critical thinking is going on here?

Might there be a glimmer of hope that Republican U.S. senators are willing finally — finally! — to break ranks from behind their fellow Republican, the guy in the White House?

Reports are surfacing that Republican response to Donald Trump’s pick to be the next director of national intelligence is, shall we say, a bit tepid. GOP senators reportedly are saddened by the departure of DNI Dan Coats, who once served with them in the U.S. Senate. They have said much about Coats, but hardly anything about U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, who is Trump’s selection as a successor to Coats.

Hmm. Why do you suppose that’s the case?

It might be that the Northeast Texas cheerleader for Trump is packed a bit too snugly into the president’s hip pocket.

I remain committed in the hope that senators who will question Ratcliffe during his confirmation hearing will ask him whether he believes, as Coats does, that Russians attacked our election in 2016 or whether he stands with Donald Trump’s phony assertion that it’s a “hoax.”

I get this sinking, gut-wrenching feeling that Ratcliffe’s fealty to Trump will not allow him to state the plainly obvious, which is that the Russians interfered on behalf of Trump in 2016 and are working hard to do the same thing in 2020. That’s the view of the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff … and the Director of National Intelligence. Donald Trump is hearing none of that.

The DNI, who is the nation’s top intelligence official, should be required to tell the president what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. Donald Trump must hear from the DNI where the existential threats to our national security are coming from. Coats and other intelligence experts told the nation that Russia presented that threat in 2016 and are doing so now.

Will the new DNI, if it’s John Ratcliffe, be willing to offer the same hard-boiled advice?

My gut tells me that Donald Trump won’t hear it even if the DNI offers it, which is why he might be looking for a blind loyalist to fill a job that requires clear-headed analysis on threats to our nation.

Mr. Sam might be spinning in his grave

An item has been brought to my attention, so I want to share it with you here.

The fellow set to be nominated as the nation’s next director of national intelligence now serves the Fourth Congressional District of Texas, which once was served by one of the great Texas politicians of all time, three-time U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn.

The current congressman, John Ratcliffe, will be named soon to succeed Dan Coats, who is, um, “stepping down” as DNI. It seems that Coats and Donald John Trump have had some serious differences of opinion over the Russians’ role in the hacking of our election system in 2016. Coats says the Russians did it: Trump sides with the Russians who deny doing it.

Enter the newest DNI, Rep. Ratcliffe.

To be fair, Ratcliffe’s national intelligence credentials are no skimpier than those that Dan Coats brought into the office. Coats, though, proved to be one of the few mature grownups to serve the Trump administration.

The jury is still out on Ratcliffe, a fervent, strident, ardent supporter of Trump. I await the questioning from senators who will ask whether he supports the Coats view of Russian hacking or the Trump view that it was all a “hoax.”

As for the Rayburn legacy, I’ve had the pleasure of writing a blog post for KETR-FM, the public radio station based at Texas A&M-Commerce, the talks about the Rayburn Library and Museum in Bonham. You can see the KETR piece here.

While touring the exhibit, I found a statement attributed to Mr. Sam, the legendary Democrat, that I believe is quite fitting in today’s climate. He says it is better to always “tell the truth” because you never have to worry about what you say.

Ratcliffe is set to join a presidential administration that seems to consider truth-telling to be some sort of sin, a sign of weakness.

How would Speaker Rayburn react to that? I sense he might be doing cartwheels in his grave at this very moment.

Hoping the new DNI doesn’t reverse course on Russian attack

I will be waiting with bated breath for the new director of national intelligence to answer this critical question from U.S. senators who will debate whether to confirm him for the job of top spook in the Trump administration.

“Do you believe, as your predecessor Dan Coats believes, that Russian government goons attacked our electoral system in 2016 and are doing so now in advance of the next presidential election?”

OK, so maybe senators won’t call ’em “goons.” That’s my term, but you get the point.

Coats is “stepping down” as DNI. Donald Trump says he’ll appoint U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe to succeed Coats. Ratcliffe has been a staunch supporter of the Trump, even challenging the integrity of an American patriot, former special counsel Robert Mueller III, who examined whether Trump’s campaign was complicit in the 2016 Russian attack on our electoral system.

Coats got sideways with the president over this issue of the Russian attack. Coats says the Russians did it. So did other intelligence and counter-terrorism experts, including the FBI director, the CIA director, the head of the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, of course, DNI Dan Coats.

The president’s view? He stands with Russian despot Vladimir Putin, who denies the Russians did anything wrong.

So my question of John Ratcliffe would be: Do you stand with Trump or the experts who say the Russians are guilty as hell?

Mueller said the Russians did it. He said they are attacking this nation at this very moment. Donald Trump — the self-proclaimed “stable genius” who knows the “best words” and hires the “best people” — has been shamefully silent on this issue.

Now it’s Rep. Ratcliffe who’s about the snuggle into the hot seat.

What say you, Mr. DNI-designate?