Here we go again. Another Trump nominee bites the dust. This time it is Rep. John Ratcliffe, who tried to pass himself off as a seasoned practitioner in the secret world of intelligence. It turned out that the dour Texan didn’t even show for meetings of the House Intelligence Committee he served on, let alone prosecute any terrorists, as he claimed on his résumé. If there was ever a case of all hat and no cattle, Ratcliffe is it.
True to form, Trump himself put out a lachrymose message on Twitter, bemoaning the hostility of the news media to his favored pick. Trump babbled, ‘Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. Rather than going through months of slander and libel, I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people … John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly.’
So will Trump turn to another Texan on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Will Hurd, who has just announced his resignation? Not likely. The former CIA operative and sole black member of the GOP House caucus has been hawkish on Russia and previously criticized Trump, though he’s indicated that he will support him for reelection. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is furiously seeking to avoid the elevation of Sue Gordon, the current No. 2 at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to the No. 1 position, where she would replace Dan Coats. Federal law states that she would automatically ascend to the position, if only temporarily. But Trump and his janissaries are balking at that. Trump has even previously barred Gordon from entering the Oval Office.
What Trump clearly wants in the position of director of national intelligence is someone who will work hand-in-glove with attorney general William P. Barr to conduct a housecleaning of the recalcitrant intelligence agencies. Since day one of his presidency, Trump has eyed the deep state with depths of suspicion that surpass any previous president. He saw what he wanted to see — a sinister cabal intent on subverting his legitimacy by depicting him as the catspaw of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Who will Trump tap next? The problem for Trump is that the scrutiny of his next nominee will be even more vigilant. But if his efforts to replace Coats are floundering, he can take consolation that A$AP Rocky is flying back to America today. When Trump meets with him in the White House, as he surely will, he should consider floating him for the director of national intelligence position to try and administer a knockout blow to the deep state A$AP.