Aug 2, 2019

Trump walks back plan to nominate John Ratcliffe as DNI

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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How the Trump White House works

President Trump talks to journalists before boarding Marine One yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump's sudden decision to cashier his choice for director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — five days after announcing the pick on Twitter — is a microcosm of how this White House works.

Catch up quick: First, months ago, Trump hears from conservative friends that Ratcliffe is a loyal guy — on Team Trump. Then Trump is blown away by Ratcliffe’s TV performance as he hammered Robert Mueller during his House hearings.

Go deeperArrowAug 3, 2019

Trump names Joseph Maguire acting director of national intelligence

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon will leave her position on Aug. 15 along with outgoing director Dan Coats, President Trump confirmed in a tweet Thursday evening.

The latest: Trump announced on Thursday that National Counterterrorism Center Director Joseph Maguire will serve as the next acting DNI director starting Aug. 15.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 8, 2019

A Trump pastime: Sending autographed briefing cards to members of Congress

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

World leaders aren't the only politicians who've been startled by President Trump's pen-pal diplomacy. Members of Congress, including at least 1 Democratic senator, have received unusual Sharpie-scrawled notes and even autographs from Trump.

What we're hearing: Early in Trump's presidency, Marc Short's Office of Legislative Affairs would produce pocket-sized briefing cards on senators or congressmen that Trump was going to be meeting at the White House or on Air Force One.

Go deeperArrowAug 11, 2019