Ratcliffe listens during Robert Mueller's testimony on July 24, 2019. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump announced that Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) would not be nominated to become the next director of national intelligence in a pair of Friday tweets, saying it would expose him to "months of slander and libel."

"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."

The state of play, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: Ratcliffe withdrew himself, per sources familiar with the situation. He was watching coverage of his possible nomination pile up, and the White House was getting word that he would struggle to get enough Republicans to confirm him. Ratcliffe "thought better to pull out now than put family through confirmation only to come up shy," texted a source familiar with his thinking.

  • According to a third source familiar with the situation, Ratcliffe did not anticipate the intensity of the reaction to his name being floated.

The backdrop: Ratcliffe, who defended Trump and "downplayed the threat posed by Russia" at former special counsel Robert Mueller's July hearing, is not well-known by many Republican senators or trusted by Democrats, per Politico.

Go deeper: Trump says DNI nominee Ratcliffe will "rein in" intelligence agencies

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Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases
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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

3 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China