Dan Coats To Be Replaced As Intelligence Chief By John Ratcliffe Who Berated Robert Mueller Last Week

It’s no surprise that Dan Coats is set to step down as director of national intelligence.

After all, Coats hasn’t always been on the same page with Donald Trump when it comes to Russian interference in America’s democratic process. Following Trump’s joint press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki (during which the president appeared to suggest that he was inclined to believe the Kremlin over the US intelligence community when it comes to election interference), Coats was unequivocal. “The US intelligence community has been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy”, he said.

Several days later, during a discussion at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, he was informed that the administration was planning to invite Putin to the White House. Coats laughed.

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The White House wasn’t amused. “Trump’s advisers were in an uproar over Coats’s interview in Aspen”, The Washington Post reported at the time. “They said the optics were especially damaging, noting that at moments Coats appeared to be laughing at the president, playing to his audience of the intellectual elite in a manner that was sure to infuriate Trump”.

Coats would later attempt to “clarify”. “Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview”, he said on July 21, 2018, adding that “My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president”.

Pardon us, but yes it was. And understandably so. The idea of Vladimir Putin visiting the White House is patently absurd, especially during the current administration.

In the 12 months since, Trump has done nothing to allay fears that he’s unconcerned about Russian election interference (he even joked about it with Putin on camera in Osaka late last month). Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell continues to stonewall efforts to protect the country’s electoral integrity.

Now, Coats is set to step down. He’ll reportedly be replaced by Texas Republican John Ratcliffe, who The New York Times reminds you is “a staunch defender of Trump [who] as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, sharply questioned Robert Mueller… at last week’s hearing”.

Specifically, Ratcliffe accused Mueller of applying “an inverted burden of proof” to Trump and proceeded to harangue the former special counsel for nearly the entirety of his allotted five minutes. Mueller wasn’t given a chance to respond. When he attempted to explain why “this was a special case”, Ratcliffe simply cut him off and kept talking.

The exchange (which, again, wasn’t really an “exchange” per se, since only one person was allowed to talk) can be found below.

As was the case for most of the hearing, Mueller was in an impossible position – hamstrung in his capacity to say what he might have said were it not for DoJ guidance commanding him not to go beyond the report, and burdened further by a desire to avoid being weaponized by Democrats.

That situation allowed Republicans (a party to which Mueller belongs, by the way) to effectively argue that the special counsel should have determined whether or not Trump obstructed justice. If you’re the GOP, that’s an easy thing to insist upon after the fact. After all, William Barr has already cleared Trump on obstruction charges, so there’s no risk for lawmakers like Ratcliffe when it comes to berating Mueller for not making a decision.

If the case weren’t closed, and if Mueller weren’t constrained by the same Justice Department whose chief exonerated Trump (and, frankly, if Mueller weren’t so old), exchanges like the one shown above probably would have gone a lot differently.

It wasn’t just Ratcliffe’s questioning of the special counsel that landed him the job, though. As Axios reports, “advisers to Trump said the president was already seriously considering Ratcliffe to replace Coats [and] Trump had previously shortlisted Ratcliffe to replace Jeff Sessions as attorney general before he ultimately chose William Barr”.

“Coats has been ready to leave for some time, but did not want to look like he was being forced out after Trump was angry over Coats’ reaction to a Trump invitation to Washington to Putin”, Maggie Haberman said Sunday.

Hours after the news started making the rounds, Trump confirmed it. “I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence”, he tweeted on Sunday evening, describing Ratcliffe as a man who “will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves”.

Coats will depart on August 15. Trump thanked him for his service.

Happy trails, Dan Coats. You’re now free to say whatever you like about the administration – at the possible risk of losing your security clearance.


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2 thoughts on “Dan Coats To Be Replaced As Intelligence Chief By John Ratcliffe Who Berated Robert Mueller Last Week

  1. From the NYT link:
    ….Mr. Ratcliffe, who served as mayor of Heath, Tex., and as a United States attorney, boasts on his website that he once “arrested 300 illegal aliens in a single day.” He was elected to the House in 2014, ousting Representative Ralph Hall, who at 91 was the oldest ….
    This is when one hopes the “Deep State” is for real and functioning.

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