The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Tuesday to approve President Donald Trump’s nomination for the next Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe.
The committee advanced Ratcliffe’s nomination in an 8 to 7 vote along party lines, clearing the path for a confirmation vote in the full Senate, The Hill reports. After the previous DNI Dan Coates announced his resignation July 2019, Trump revealed his nomination of Ratcliffe on Twitter shortly after.
I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence. A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
In August 2019, Trump withdrew his nomination citing a difficult confirmation process. The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Joseph Maguire, served as Acting Director between August 2019 and February 2020. The position is currently occupied by Richard Grenell, who has been serving as Acting Director since Feb. 20, 2020.
Trump re-appointed Ratcliffe for the position in February, and during his confirmation hearing May 5 he vowed that he would be an independent voice. His approval by the Senate Intelligence Committee reflects new support among Senate Republicans like Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who is regarded as the panel’s swing vote. “I asked him then and again yesterday a series of tough questions about whether he would be independent,” she said following Ratcliffe’s hearing.
Ratcliffe has gained a reputation as a strong defender of the president, criticizing the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia and urging investigations into improper conduct at the FBI. (RELATED: NUNES: President Trump’s Selection To Serve As DNI Is The Right Choice)
He was also a prominent voice in the House of Representatives during the impeachment process earlier this year, blasting House Democrats for moving forward with impeachment despite a lack of evidence.
Although his confirmation is unlikely to be supported by any Democrats, Ratcliffe is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate possibly after Memorial Day.