Friday, August 2, 2019

Scratch Ratcliffe as DNI - Trump just did

Trump Drops Plans to Nominate John Ratcliffe as Director of National Intelligence. The NY Times elaborates.

The announcement was another reversal for the president and underscored the recurring dysfunction in the White House vetting process that has plagued the administration. Mr. Ratcliffe joined a long list of Trump 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’s long and growing list of reversals on nominations, according to people who have been involved in the vetting process, is the product of the president’s own desire to announce names before they have undergone even a preliminary vet by the office of presidential personnel. Adding to the mix is that Mr. Trump often is undeterred by information that would typically be seen as disqualifying, according to people who have spoken with him.

According to one source, the vetting is “a thinner process” and “light”.

And who does Trump blame? Aw, you know. It’s the press.

The backtrack leaves Mr. Trump without any obvious candidate to fill one of the country’s most important national security jobs, heightening scrutiny on what will happen with Sue Gordon, Mr. Coats’s No. 2. Mr. Trump has already decided not to allow her to rise to the role of acting director of national intelligence when Mr. Coats steps down, according to people familiar with his plans.

The decision to circumvent Ms. Gordon, who has served as the principal deputy director in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, will probably upset Republicans and Democrats in the Senate who had expressed doubts about Mr. Ratcliffe.

Sure, they should be upset. Getting rid of Coats and Gordon leaves the Office of the DNI without any one who understands how the place works, reported the Times.

Opposition in the White House to letting [Gordon ]serve as acting director has raised the question of whether she will be ousted as part of a leadership shuffle at the intelligence director’s office that will be more to Mr. Trump’s liking.

Mr. Trump and House Republicans have made clear that they believe a broad reorganization of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is needed. Administration officials and House Republicans also have said they would like someone at the agency who will work well with Attorney General William P. Barr, who has ordered a review of the intelligence agencies’ support for the F.B.I. as the bureau sought to understand Moscow’s covert efforts to tilt the 2016 election, including any links to the Trump campaign.

It’s all about the “no collusion” crowd and a whitewash of the 2016 Russian interference.

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