Updated Feb 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump again nominates Rep. John Ratcliffe for intelligence chief

Ratcliffe at CPAC on Feb. 27. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Trump again nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in a tweet on Friday.

Catch up quick: If confirmed, Ratcliffe would eventually replace Richard Grenell, a staunch defender of Trump and former U.S. ambassador to Germany who was installed as the acting DNI only a few weeks ago. Grenell would have had to leave the post on March 11 unless Trump formally nominated someone else to oversee the U.S. intelligence community, the New York Times reports.

  • Ratcliffe's nomination will allow Grenell to remain as acting intelligence chief as it winds its way through Senate confirmation.

Flashback: Trump had previously nominated Ratcliffe in July, but Ratcliffe withdrew his name in August as senior congressional Republicans "deemed him unqualified for the job," per the Times. Democrats and Republicans alike questioned his lack of intelligence experience.

  • Trump reconsidered the nomination in August, saying it would expose Ratcliffe to "months of slander and libel."

The big picture: Ratcliffe's second nomination comes amid the administration's broader effort to identify "disloyal government officials" and replace them with "trusted pro-Trump people," more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

The other side:

“Intelligence should never be guided by partisanship or politics.  Unfortunately, Congressman Ratcliffe has shown an unacceptable embrace of conspiracy theories and a clear disrespect and distrust of our law enforcement and intelligence patriots that disqualify him from leading America’s intelligence community.
Last summer, this nomination was withdrawn after revelations about Congressman Ratcliffe’s clear lack of qualifications and many misleading statements about his resume. The President is now ignoring these many serious outstanding concerns and letting politics, not patriotism, guide our national security."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement on Friday

Go deeper: Trump to install loyalist Ric Grenell as acting intelligence chief

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Trump names Mark Meadows as White House chief of staff

Mulvaney and Meadows in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 6. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that he will replace acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)

Why it matters via Axios' Alayna Treene: Meadows recently announced his plans to retire from Congress, and hinted at a job in the Trump administration. Trump trusts Meadows, and has appreciated his fierce and public loyalty over the past years.

WHO official leads criticism of Trump's coronavirus response

President Trump with members of the new coronavirus task force at the White House on Wednesday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ezekiel Emanuel, special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization, told MSNBC Wednesday he found "most" of what President Trump said at his briefing on the novel coronavirus "incoherent."

The big picture: As the number of confirmed cases reaches 60 in the U.S., the top health professional — who was a health policy adviser in the Obama administration — is among several leading figures, in particular, Democrats, to criticize the president for his response to the outbreak.

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Watch: Automation is upending our economy and voters aren't paying attention

As part of our What Matters 2020 series on the critical trends that will outlive this moment, Axios co-founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen discuss the impact of artificial intelligence and robotics.

Watch Part 1 on misinformation and manipulation