Trump to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as director of National Intelligence

See also: What the change at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence means

The appointment of a former U.S. attorney, who is also a master of the details of the attempted plot to oust Trump, signals that the "investigate the investigators" phase of the biggest political scandal in history is moving into high gear.

Jonathan Swan of Axios published a scoop, now confirmed by presidential tweet, that Rep. John Ratcliffe will be nominated to replace Dan Coats as the director of National Intelligence.  This almost certainly means that the "investigate the investigators" phase of the biggest political scandal in American history is going to get serious, with the Intelligence Community cooperating rather than stonewalling.

Two guys who like each other.  A lot.
Photo credit: Office of Congressman John Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe has deeply impressed me with his questioning of witnesses and comments on television interviews.  He is right up there with Devin Nunes in terms of his mastery of the details of the plot.

Swan writes:

President Trump announced on Twitter Sunday that he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, confirming Axios' earlier reporting that Ratcliffe was favored for the job. Coats will leave office on August 15.

Behind the scenes: Trump was thrilled by Ratcliffe's admonishment of former special counsel Robert Mueller in last week's House Judiciary Committee hearing. "The special counsel's job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump's innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him," Ratcliffe, a former prosecutor, said to Mueller.

  • "I agree with Chairman Nadler this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law," Ratcliffe added. "But he damn sure should not be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report puts him."
  • But while Ratcliffe's performance in the Mueller hearing helped his chances for the DNI appointment, it wasn't what put him on the president's radar. Advisers to Trump said the president was already seriously considering Ratcliffe to replace Coats. Trump had previously shortlisted Ratcliffe to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general before he ultimately chose William Barr.
  • The New York Times' Maggie Haberman was the first to report that Ratcliffe was in the mix to replace Coats as DNI. And CNN reported that Ratcliffe was under consideration for an unspecified job in the administration.

The big picture: Trump has been mulling replacing Coats since at least February, as Axios recently reported. The director of national intelligence serves as an overseer of the U.S. intelligence community and a close adviser to the president and National Security Council, producing each day's top-secret Presidential Daily Brief.

  • Trump has privately said he thinks the Office of the Director of National Intelligence represents an unnecessary bureaucratic layer and that he would like to get rid of it. He has been told that eliminating the ODNI is not politically possible, but he would still like to "downsize" the office, the source said.

Between the lines: Coats has rankled Trump more than once with his public comments, according to sources with direct knowledge. He angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an on-stage interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell at last year's Aspen Security Forum.

What is crucial to remember is that Ratcliffe not only has been a pit bull going after the conspirators in hearings, but he is a former prosecutor, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, a huge and very important district.  With him calling the shots on the entire Intelligence Community, the stonewalling should be constrained if not stopped.  Ratcliffe knows how to flip witnesses with threats of prosecution, and he knows people in the Department of Justice who can carry out the threats of prosecution on lower-level people incriminated in the cabal's plot to overturn an election and carry out a coup d'état.

Incidentally, Ratcliffe's congressional seat in the 4th District of Texas is completely safe for the GOP.  So moving Ratcliffe into an Executive Branch post will not jeopardize the GOP's attempt to retake a House majority.

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