President Trump says he's nominating Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe (R) as the nation's next director of national intelligence – a key post that oversees 17 separate US intelligence agencies. If approved by the US Senate, Ratcliffe will replace Dan Coats who has served in the position for more than two years.
Ratcliffe is a former federal prosecutor for the eastern district of Texas. He is also a former partner in the law firm of former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
In September 2016, he grilled then-FBI Director James Comey over the bureau's investigation of Hillary Clinton and her use of a private server for storing classified government emails.
A staunch defender of the president, Ratcliffe has challenged the validity of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia report.
"I agree with the chairman when he said this morning that Donald Trump is not above the law. He's not. But he d*** sure shouldn't be below the law where volume two of this report puts him!" Ratcliffe stated during last week's Mueller testimony on Capitol Hill.
On Sunday, President Trump tweeted he was nominating Ratcliffe to replace Coats as
director of national intelligence, saying, "John will lead and inspire greatness of the country he loves."
And he thanked Coats tweeting: "I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our country."
The Coats resignation takes effect August 15th. Coats served the state of Indiana as a US senator from 1988 to 1998. George Bush appointed him ambassador to Germany in 2001 – a position he held until February 2005. He served in the Senate again from 2011 until January 2017. Coats became director of national intelligence in March 2017.
The president was reportedly at odds with Coats as Mr. Trump often criticized US intelligence agencies, especially for their role in what the president has termed the Russia election collusion "witch hunt."
In 2018, Coats warned about Russian attempts to influence American elections via social media and computer hacking.
"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," he said. "These efforts are not exclusive to this election or future elections but certainly cover issues relevant to the election."