May 21, 2020 – What Congressman John Ratcliffe lacks in national security experience and expertise he makes up for with blind loyalty to Trump. And that blind loyalty explains why Trump tapped him for the post earlier this year — even after Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration last year.  

We have every reason to expect Ratcliffe will continue down the path Acting DNI Ric Grenell set out — politicizing and even weaponizing the Intelligence Community in order to protect and advance Trump’s political interests, even when doing so requires him to cast aside the national interest.  

Ratcliffe’s perpetual appearances supporting Trump on Fox News and his performance in the Mueller hearings as an aggressive Trump loyalist secured his place as DNI nominee. His efforts have earned him Trump’s praise as a “warrior.”

  • Ratcliffe attacked Mueller during his congressional testimony for looking into incidents of Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. He accused the special counsel of conducting an investigation “not authorized under the law.” 
  • After Mueller’s testimony, Ratcliffe auditioned for his new role on Fox News by referring to the Special Counsel staff as “Hillary Clinton’s de facto legal team.” The same day, Trump tweeted praise of Ratcliffe in announcing him as the impending Director of National Intelligence nominee. 
  • Trump reportedly ignored a private warning from Republican Senator Richard Burr, the then-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that Ratcliffe is too political for the post. 
  • With a 100 percent conservative rating from Heritage Action, Ratcliffe has long supported Trump’s policies, voting to repeal Obamacare and applauding Trump on the Muslim ban. 

Ratcliffe has a history of abusing his position in Congress to peddle partisan conspiracy theories about his political opponents. 

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  • In August 2016, Ratcliffe demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Clinton Foundation.
  • In July 2017, Ratcliffe signed onto a letter calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to look into the conduct of Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 
  • In December 2017, Ratcliffe preposterously urged the Justice Department to investigate the Obama administration’s supposed “relationship” with Hezbollah. 
  • In January 2018, Ratcliffe pushed claims of a “secret society” in the FBI conspiring against Trump’s election. 
  • In June 2018, Ratcliffe called for an investigation into whether Obama ordered officials to “stand down” in response to Russian cyberattacks.

Ratcliffe has consistently questioned the findings of the Intelligence Community, expressing a lack of faith in the very agencies he would oversee.

  • Ratcliffe in 2018 tweeted that he had “seen no evidence to indicate that the Russian government influenced the outcome of the 2016 election or colluded with any American to do so,” sidling up to Trump after his embarrassing and dangerous performance in Helsinki.
  • Ratcliffe accused senior FBI officials of leaking classified information to the media without presenting any evidence. Later, he accused the FBI of “outrageous levels of bias and prejudice” during its investigation of the Trump campaign, and he pushed efforts to purge the Bureau’s senior leadership. 
  • Ratcliffe said the Obama administration used “surveillance tools or spying” against the Trump campaign, backing Attorney General Barr’s politically-motivated investigation into the origins of the Russia probe within the Intelligence Community. 
  • Ratcliffe reportedly plans to “clean house” at ODNI, a move that would target career professionals in the Intelligence Community for simply doing their jobs. 

Ratcliffe is woefully unqualified to lead the Intelligence Community, having spent some 6 months in any intelligence role — a stark contrast to previous DNIs.

  • The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) requires that the DNI have “extensive national security expertise.” Ratcliffe’s only formal intelligence experience is serving several months on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Prior to his election to Congress in 2014 as a Tea Party-backed candidate, Ratcliffe spent eight years (2004-2012) as the mayor of Heath, Texas (population 7,000).
  • By comparison, previous Directors have had extensive experience serving in a variety of intelligence and national security roles. The outgoing Director, Dan Coats, previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany and as a three-year member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, while his predecessors — Jim Clapper and Dennis Blair — ran U.S. intelligence agencies, and spent decades serving in the U.S. Navy, respectively. 

Ratcliffe misrepresented his role in an anti-terrorism case that he repeatedly cites as one of his national security credentials. 

  • Ratcliffe’s website claimed that “he put terrorist sympathizers in prison” and “convicted individuals who were funneling money to Hamas” in U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation. However, there are no public records that indicate Ratcliffe’s connections to the case’s proceedings. Former officials have no recollection of Ratcliffe having any role, and the four defense attorneys who served on the case do not recall Ratcliffe being involved in the proceedings. 
  • Ratcliffe stated that he “served by special appointment as the prosecutor in U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation,” but, according to Justice Department records, the team of prosecutors included Barry Jonas, Elizabeth J. Shapiro, and James Jacks. There is no public record of Ratcliffe serving as a prosecutor. 
  • According to a former Justice Department official, Ratcliffe was appointed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate accusations between a juror and one of the defendants after the first prosecution ended in mistrial. The former official said “nothing came of it,” and Ratcliffe was not involved in the retrial or the convictions. 
  • In an attempt to clarify his role, Ratcliffe’s office stated his involvement was related to investigating problems that led to the mistrial of the first case. A spokesperson for Ratcliffe concluded the statement with: “John Ratcliffe opened, managed and supervised numerous domestic and international terrorism related cases,” a drastic change from previous statements that declared he convicted individuals and put them in prison.

We are former senior officials and policy experts, academics and civil society leaders who have seen first-hand how the United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world when we stand strong with our allies, pursue principled diplomacy, and stay true to the values that have long defined America at home and abroad. www.nationalsecurityaction.org

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