Trump drops pick for intelligence chief amid scrutiny

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump abruptly dropped his plan to nominate Representative John Ratcliffe as the nation's top intelligence official after questions by Republicans and Democrats about his qualifications and concern over whether he had exaggerated his resume.

Mr Ratcliffe, a vocal supporter of Mr Trump, has come under intense scrutiny since the President said on Twitter on July 28 that the lawmaker was his pick to succeed Mr Dan Coats, who is stepping down as director of national intelligence on Aug 15.

The selection generated scant enthusiasm among senators of both parties, who would have decided whether to confirm him.

Mr Trump, in his post announcing that Mr Ratcliffe would not be his nominee after all, spoke bitterly of the attention Mr Ratcliffe's overstated claims about his experience as a federal prosecutor quickly received from the news media.

"Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media," he wrote.

The announcement was another reversal for the President. Mr Ratcliffe joined a long list of Trump administration appointees who have had to pull their names after the President announced his plans to put them in powerful posts without a full picture of potentially disqualifying details.

Mr Trump promised to announce a new nominee soon.

As soon as Mr John Ratcliffe was named, his qualifications came under scorching examination, including that he had embellished his credentials as a former federal prosecutor in East Texas.

Mr Pete Hoekstra, the US ambassador to the Netherlands and a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is one of the leading candidates for the post, according to two people briefed on the discussions.

He wants the position, they said, and his long service on Capitol Hill and work helping to create the job of director of national intelligence could make him more palatable to senators.

As soon as Mr Ratcliffe was named, his qualifications came under scorching examination, including that he had embellished his credentials as a former federal prosecutor in East Texas.

Speaking to reporters last Friday, Mr Trump said he had given Mr Ratcliffe the choice of continuing but had told him it was going to be rough because news organisations were treating him "very harshly and very unfairly".

He also defended the White House vetting process as "very good". Even so, aides to Mr Trump have said he is often undeterred by information that would typically be seen as disqualifying.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 04, 2019, with the headline 'Trump drops pick for intelligence chief amid scrutiny'. Print Edition | Subscribe