There's no doubt left that GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe has been nominated for the post of Director of National Intelligence in order to help Donald Trump bury the investigations into his criminality.
The comments from Rep. John Ratcliffe in television appearances and closed-door interviews with Obama administration officials questioning the US intelligence community's actions during the Russia investigation show how the Texas Republican aligns with the President's skepticism of the entire Russia probe, which ultimately became special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Ratcliffe was one of the key Republicans leading the GOP-run congressional investigation into the FBI and Justice Department's handling of the Hillary Clinton email and Trump-Russia investigations last year. Ratcliffe had a central role in interrogating FBI and Justice Department officials on how the investigation began, and it helped Ratcliffe get on the radar of the President, who often seized on developments in the congressional investigation and twice this year tweeted about Ratcliffe's Fox News interviews.
A CNN review of the Republican-led interview transcripts from their FBI investigation, as well as dozens of Ratcliffe's Fox News appearances of the past year, reveal his deep skepticism of not just the FBI and Justice Department actions in 2016, but also of the intelligence community he would lead if confirmed to succeed Dan Coats as director of national intelligence.
Ratcliffe's worldview that emerged from his role in investigating the Russia investigation will now be thoroughly examined as he heads into the confirmation process to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, particularly from Democrats who are criticizing his selection as overtly political.
While Ratcliffe didn't call for Mueller's removal or use inflammatory language like Trump -- he never called it a "witch hunt" or "a hoax," for instance -- Ratcliffe questioned the actions of the former special counsel, argued that the beginning of the investigation had tainted his findings and accused Obama officials of potentially committing crimes. The Texas Republican criticized both President Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and DNI John Clapper, his potential predecessor.
"Think about that, a dossier funded by the Democrats, peddled through the Obama intelligence community, falsely verified by the Obama Justice Department, then sold to the American people by those very same elected Democrats and willing folks in the media," Ratcliffe said in a March 24 interview with Fox News' Maria Bartiromo, the morning before Attorney General William Barr released his letter summarizing Mueller's findings.
Trump signaled Tuesday that he expects Ratcliffe to clean house, telling reporters that he had picked Ratcliffe in order to "rein in" the intelligence agencies.
"I think we need somebody like that that's strong and can really rein it in," Trump said. "As you've all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok. They've run amok."
Ratcliffe is there to dispose of everyone in the intelligence community who has investigated Donald Trump or anyone related to him, and keep in mind these investigations are still ongoing. They will be ended, and the experts, analysts, agents and investigators will all be fired.
Ratcliffe is also completely unqualified for the job.
Ratcliffe’s experience pales in comparison to any of his would-be predecessors. He served as the mayor of Heath, Texas—population 8,000—for a decade, and while he did a brief stint as a politically appointed US attorney in Texas in the final months of George W. Bush’s administration, his résumé on national security matters is practically nonexistent.
He had previously claimed to be involved in a single terrorism-related case, against the Holy Land Foundation, but appears to have far overstated his role. As ABC News’ James Gordon Meek reported Tuesday, “The fact is that @RepRatcliffe did not convict anyone in the Holy Land Foundation trial. His staff now admits he simply reviewed the first mistrial and issued no report to [attorney general Mike] Mukasey, which is why no one we contacted remembers him at all.”
Similarly confounding, he asserts on his House website that he once “arrested 300 illegal aliens in a single day,” which would have been quite a feat, since US attorneys don’t have arrest authority.
That lack of experience is almost certain to make Ratcliffe an ineffective DNI, a position that has little direct power and whose few levers and moral suasion only Clapper—the longest-serving DNI yet—managed to handle effectively.
But while Ratcliffe will likely have trouble herding the cats that make up the nation’s 17 sprawling intelligence agencies, ranging from the Justice Department to the State Department to the Pentagon to even the Energy Department, that’s not what seems primed to make him a dangerous DNI.
The biggest danger Ratcliffe poses is to the integrity of the job of director of national intelligence in the first place; the core principle of the intelligence professional is to speak truth to power.
Instead, Trump will have another smarmy, lying, yes-man in the position, whose real job will be firing hundreds, maybe thousands of personnel in a mass purge, something Vladimir Putin is salivating over.
When Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr turn the country's law enforcement against Trump enemies and the arrests begin, it will be Ratcliffe's job to justify the intelligence used for the deed.
It will be ugly.