Trump’s pick for Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, gets grilled by Senate months after being blocked – The Sun

REPRESENTATIVE John Ratcliffe was grilled on Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee months after Democrats had vowed to block his nomination.

President Donald Trump's pick for national intelligence director fielded bipartisan questions about whether he could keep politics and intelligence work separate.

Ratcliffe told Republicans and Democrats he'd provide the president and Congress with "timely, accurate, and objective" information if confirmed as director of national intelligence.

"Let me be very clear: Regardless of what anyone wants our intelligence to reflect, the intelligence I provide, if confirmed, will not be impacted or altered as a result of outside influence," he said during his confirmation hearing in Washington D.C.

"Anyone's views on what they want the intelligence to be will never impact the intelligence that I deliver – never."

"My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law and I have made that clear to everyone including the president," he added.

Ratcliffe also said he never discussed "loyalty" with Trump prior to his selection.

Senators pressed him about his experience including Sen Marco Rubio, who later said Ratcliffe is qualified to hold the position.

They also asked his thoughts on whistleblowers given his criticism of Michael Atkinson, the official who sent the Ukraine whistleblower complaint to the congressional intelligence committees.

The Texas Republican said he doesn't have enough information to assess whether Trump acted appropriately when he fired Atkinson, who was the intelligence community's inspector general.

But he noted that he has "no issues" with Atkinson, adding: "I think he did what he thought was right.

The representative played a role in the House impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine last December.

Ratcliffe had previously been considered to take on the top intelligence position after former Indiana Sen Dan Coats resigned last July.

Senate Democrats had vowed to block Trump's nomination and accused Ratcliffe of being too partisan and unqualified to take the job.

He withdrew his name from consideration a month later after being publicly scrutinized over his experience.

The withdrawal prompted Trump to name US Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell as acting director of national intelligence.

Trump announced he would nominate Ratcliffe to become DNI in February, a decision that was initially spurred by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr.

Trump formally submitted Ratcliffe's nomination in March.

Burr has since voiced his support for Ratcliffe and vowed to quickly move forward with his confirmation.

Ratcliffe has defended his record in the months leading up to his nomination.

He appeared on television twice to push back at critics' claims that he's unqualified to run the nation's 17 intelligence agencies.

"I have spent four years at the Justice Department in charge of sensitive matters of national security, anti-terrorism investigations," he told CBS News in an interview in February.

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