Trump intelligence nominee the 'least qualified individual ever'

President Donald Trump has nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to replace Dan Coats as the director of national intelligence, and the selection of a Trump stalwart for a sensitive nonpartisan role has drawn deep concern among Democrats and little enthusiasm among some Republicans.

That unease extends to the Senate Intelligence Committee, where Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sounded the alarm Monday.

In an unusually strident news release, Wyden called Ratcliffe “the most partisan and least qualified individual ever nominated to serve as Director of National Intelligence” and warned he’s not much more than a Trump acolyte. 

“The sum total of his qualifications appears to be his record of promoting Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the investigation into Russian interference and calling for prosecution of Trump’s political enemies,” Wyden said.

“Furthermore, he has endorsed widespread government surveillance and shown little concern for Americans’ rights,” Wyden added, “except for those of Donald Trump and his close associates.”

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) questions former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as Mueller appears before the House Intelligence Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rayburn House Office Building July 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mueller, testified earlier in the day before the House Judiciary Committee in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 24: From left, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and Will Hurd, R-Texas, prepare for testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. He testified earlier in the day before the House Judiciary Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), left, asks former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III a question as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, listens as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in Washington, DC, on July 24, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 8: Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, are seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the unredacted Mueller report to the committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 3: Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, are seen during a House Judiciary Committee markup in Rayburn Building on a resolution to authorize the issuance of subpoenas to obtain the full Robert Mueller report on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 26: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, speaks during the House GOP post-caucus press conference in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: Reps. Martha Roby, R-Ala., and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, attend a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on November 14, 2017, on oversight of the Department of Justice where Attorney General Jeff Sessions fielded a variety of questions including immigration and Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 8: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 8: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, arrives in the Longworth House Office Building for the House Republicans' election to nominate the next Speaker of the House on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 23: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, attends a House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building titled "Sanctuary Cities: A Threat to Public Safety," July 23, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 25: Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, speaks with fellow committee members during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Unconstitutionality of Obama's Executive Actions on Immigration" on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 11: Representative John Ratcliffe speaks with another committee member before a House Committee of Homeland Security hearing on terrorist threats in the world, such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq and al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula, in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HEATH, TEXAS - MARCH 19: John Ratcliffe, who is running for Congress against Rep. Ralph Hall, works with campaign manager Daniel Kroese (far right) from his two-room campaign headquarters inside an office building in Heath, Texas on March 19, 2014. (Photo by Kim Leeson/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HEATH, TEXAS - MARCH 19: John Ratcliffe, who is running for Congress against Rep. Ralph Hall, poses at his campaign headquarters inside an office building in Heath, Texas on March 19, 2014. (Photo by Kim Leeson/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Ratcliffe is a former prosecutor who has limited experience in intelligence oversight.

“Confirming this individual would amount to an endorsement of this administration’s drive to politicize our intelligence agencies,” Wyden warned. “This is a dangerous time, and America needs the most qualified and objective individuals possible to lead our intelligence agencies. Anything less risks American lives.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) told CNN on Monday, “To be honest, I really don’t know anything about the gentleman, the congressman, he’s talking about selecting. You know, this was kind of a sudden thing. So that’s something that we’ll be looking at.”

Coats’ departure had been rumored going back to at least the summer of 2018, when Trump publicly dismissed U.S. intelligence findings of Russian meddling in the 2016 election while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Coats responded in a statement affirming the intelligence community’s commitment to providing “the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the president and policymakers” and said that it “will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Trump walked back the statement with Putin, claiming he’d misspoken, yet nevertheless again contradicted intelligence findings about Russia the next day.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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