A North Texas congressman will be nominated to replace the outgoing director of national intelligence, the president tweeted Sunday.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that he planned to nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas, 4th District) for the role vacated by Dan Coats.
Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller last week during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.
"I am deeply grateful to President Trump for the opportunity to lead our Nation’s intelligence community and work on behalf of all the public servants who are tirelessly devoted to defending the security and safety of the United States," Ratcliffe tweeted Sunday night.
"President Trump’s call to serve in this role was not one I could ignore, and I am incredibly thankful to him for this great honor," he tweeted.
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Coats will leave office Aug. 15, according to the tweet, after serving in the position for just over two years. The Senate confirmed Coats on March 15, 2017.
Coats' departure will mark the 10th Senate-confirmed Cabinet member to leave the Trump administration in its approximately two and a half years in office.
Ratcliffe's district includes Rockwall County, parts of northern Collin County and several counties along the Red River. District 4 represented 651,620 people as of the 2000 census.
Ratcliffe made national headlines Wednesday with his criticism of former special counsel Robert Mueller.
"Donald Trump is not above the law, he's not, but he damn sure should not be below the law, which is where volume two of this report puts him," Ratcliffe said during Mueller's testimony.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said the public confrontation likely impressed President Trump.
"The president responds to people's performance on television and he likes people who will defend him in a no-holds-barred way," Jillson said. "I think Ratcliffe won the job in that questioning of Mueller."
First elected in 2014, Ratcliffe serves on the Homeland Security, Judiciary and Ethics Committees in Congress.
Jillson said the former mayor of Heath and former U.S. attorney does not have a strong background in intelligence.
"He may do very well in this job because he's a smart, articulate guy, but he'll be on a very steep learning curve. His background does not cry out director of national intelligence," Jillson said.
Ratcliffe, in his third term, is a relatively newer member of Congress and perhaps not as widely known as Coats was when he took the job. Confirmation takes a simple 51-vote majority, under new rules in the Senate, but that leaves slim room for error with Republicans holding a 53-seat majority.
Ratcliffe appeared Sunday on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" and made a number of points that were in sync with Trump's rhetoric. He said it was time to move on from talk of impeachment, questioned the legitimacy of the Mueller report into Russian election interference and urged investigation into potential wrongdoing during the Obama administration.
His remarks echoed his questioning of Mueller last week, in which the Texas Republican challenged the legal basis for the report's conclusions.
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Ratcliffe was heavily involved in a House GOP-led investigation last year about decisions "made and not made" by the Justice Department during the 2016 election. That probe questioned whether the department was biased against then-candidate Donald Trump and whether it abused surveillance powers as it began the Russia investigation. A former federal prosecutor, Ratcliffe was often one of the most aggressive questioners in closed-door depositions.
In early 2019, he was picked by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on the House intelligence committee, as well. On Sunday, McCarthy called Trump's decision an "excellent nomination" and Ratcliffe "a man of character."
Oher Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House's intelligence committee, also cheered the president's plan to nominate Ratcliffe. The California Republican tweeted that Ratcliffe "understands the intricacies of the intelligence community as well as civil liberties."
Democrats were cautious if not outright skeptical. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: "It's clear Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to (at)realDonaldTrump with his demagogic questioning of Mueller. If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position requiring intelligence expertise & non-partisanship, it'd be a big mistake."