Let’s go back in time to August 2019 to get a little refresher on why Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas was not confirmed to be the Director of National Intelligence.
President Donald Trump just announced that Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe, his pick to become the next director of national intelligence, won’t seek the nomination after all.
It’s a stunning reversal. The president announced his selection on Sunday—just five days ago—when he also noted that America’s current top spy, Daniel Coats, was resigning. But Ratcliffe has had a tough week, with report after report showing that he exaggerated his qualifications and background.
Ratcliffe also lacked much experience for the job, which is why Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr asked President Trump not to nominate him in the first place.
Senator Burr is now singing a different tune:
Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN Monday that he will back the nomination of President Donald Trump’s controversial pick to be the country’s next intelligence chief.
He consulted with the White House before Trump announced his intent to renominate Rep. John Ratcliffe as the next director of national intelligence, according to two people familiar with the dynamic.
“I’m supportive of John Ratcliffe. That’s what the statement said. Period,” Burr said, pushing back on suggestions that the statement he released Friday after Trump’s announcement was unclear.
Asked what changed from last year when Ratcliffe was first nominated and GOP senators had concerns then, Burr said: “There was a different pathway in the Senate. I don’t think anybody has changed their opinion of John Ratcliffe. What changed is the pathway to get somebody confirmed. If Democrats want to vote against him and have (Richard) Grenell stay on as acting is fine with me.”
In other words, Burr thinks he can get Ratcliffe confirmed because people are even more appalled about the prospect of Richard Grenell remaining in the position of DNI in an acting capacity. To understand why Burr might be right about that, you can look at how Grenell has been received in Europe in his current fully-confirmed job as ambassador to Germany.
Because the ambassador was unwilling to grant an interview, DER SPIEGEL focused its reporting on conversations with more than 30 sources who have come into contact with Grenell. These include numerous American and German diplomats, cabinet members, lawmakers, high-ranking officials, lobbyists and think tank experts. They were all willing to speak openly but did not want to be quoted by name.
Almost all of these sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others. After one of his appearances, we were told, he asked almost shyly how he had done.
They also say Grenell knows little about Germany and Europe, that he ignores most of the dossiers his colleagues at the embassy write for him, and that his knowledge of the subject matter is superficial. “Ric only scratches the surface,” said one person who regularly interacts with him.
If that doesn’t sound like a good profile for someone who is responsible for coordinating all of America’s intelligence agencies, then you’ll see why perhaps John Ratcliffe looks attractive by comparison.