Trump Nominates Ratcliffe New Director Of National Intelligence

Jul 29, 2019

President Trump’s pick to replace outgoing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, the congressman who represents Northeast Texas.

Ratcliffe’s district stretches from the northeastern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to Texarkana. Ratcliffe has represented House District 4 since 2015.

In a 2014 Republican primary runoff election, he ousted incumbent Congressman Ralph Hall. The defeat ended a multi-decade tenure for Hall, who had held the office since 1981. Ratcliffe's victory was the first time in 20 years that a challenger beat a sitting Republican congressman in a party primary in Texas. Ratcliffe came to Washington having served as a federal attorney for the Eastern District of Texas during the George W. Bush administration. During the Obama administration, Ratcliffe returned to private practice in a firm that included former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

In this current session of Congress, Ratcliffe is serving on the House Intelligence, House Judiciary and House Ethics Committees, as well as the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Ratcliffe has been a reliable supporter of Trump. The congressman most recently drew both praise and derision for his aggressive questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller during last Wednesday’s hearings on the Mueller report. The news outlet Axios reports that Trump "was thrilled by Ratcliffe's admonishment of former special counsel Robert Mueller in last week's House Judiciary Committee hearing."

This isn’t the first time Ratcliffe has been mentioned as a possible cabinet-level official in the Trump Administration. In 2018, Ratcliffe was among those considered a possible replacement for outgoing Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The job eventually went to William Barr, who had held the office previously during the George H. W. Bush Administration.

Should Ratcliffe leave Congress, the ensuing turnover in House District 4 would be unusual for a district marked by stability. There have only been four lawmakers to hold the office since before the First World War. Before Ratcliffe and Ralph Hall, there was Ray Roberts, who served from 1962 until 1981. Before Ray Roberts – former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, who represented Northeast Texas in Washington from 1913 until 1961. Ratcliffe’s replacement would be determined by a special election.

Trump announced Coats’ resignation in a Twitter post on Sunday. Coats will step down on August 15. In recent months, Coats publically disagreed with Trump’s assertions that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program no longer poses a security threat and that the Islamic State organization had been completely defeated.

With Coats’ impending departure, the only survivor from Trump's original national security team is Mike Pompeo, who began as CIA director and is now secretary of state. Trump has previously parted ways with two national security advisers, two homeland security chiefs, a defense secretary, a secretary of state and a U.N. ambassador.

Ratcliffe does not have full-time experience in the federal intelligence community, although he did prosecute terrorism cases while a federal attorney.

Ratcliffe is a resident of Heath, a city immediately south of Rockwall in Rockwall County. He served as mayor of Heath before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.