May 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Highlights from John Ratcliffe's DNI confirmation hearing

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), President's Trump nominee for director of national intelligence (DNI), said at his confirmation hearing Tuesday that every government whistleblower should receive "every protection under the law."

Why it matters: As one of Trump's fiercest defenders during the impeachment inquiry, Ratcliffe repeatedly sought to undermine the credibility of the Ukraine whistleblower, claiming without evidence that the complaint was "wrong in numerous respects."

  • Ratcliffe said at Tuesday's hearing that he did not want to "re-litigate" impeachment, but claimed that his issue was that the president didn't receive "due process" during the House inquiry.

The big picture: Democrats fear that Ratcliffe, who is being tapped to replace acting DNI Richard Grenell, will politicize a position that oversees the entire U.S intelligence community.

  • Trump announced last year that he planned to name Ratcliffe to the position, but that potential nomination was scuppered amid fears that Senate Republicans were not on board.
  • Ratcliffe pledged in his opening statement: "Regardless of what anyone wants our intelligence to reflect, the intelligence I will provide if confirmed will not be altered or impacted by outside influence."
  • He insisted that Trump has not spoken to him about "loyalty," adding that his loyalty is "to the Constitution."

Asked about the term "Deep State," which the president and his allies have used to suggest a conspiracy by career officials to undermine the administration, Ratcliffe responded: "I don't know what that means."

  • Ratcliffe agreed that it would be "inappropriate" and "in some contexts illegal" to retaliate against career officials for political reasons. Trump has carried out a purge of career officials who played a role in the impeachment inquiry, including Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
  • "Keeping politics out of the intelligence community is one of my priorities," Ratcliffe testified. ""I will be entirely apolitical as the director of national intelligence."
  • Ratcliffe later said that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence agencies have "run amok," as Trump and his allies have claimed.

What's next: Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said that he would like to bring Ratcliffe's nomination to a committee vote next week and a full Senate floor vote shortly thereafter.

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Even with early curfews in New York City and Washington, D.C., protesters are still out en masse. Some protesters in D.C. said they were galvanized by President Trump's photo op in front of St. John's Church on Monday and threat to deploy U.S. troops in the rest of country if violence isn't quelled, NBC News reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.

What we expect from our bosses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Workers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — are paying close attention to the words and actions of their employers during national crises, such as the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Why it matters: American companies have an enormous amount of wealth and influence that they can put toward effecting change, and CEOs have the potential to fill the leadership vacuum left by government inaction. More and more rank-and-file employees expect their bosses to do something with that money and power.