Coats departure rattles Hill leaders as Democrats condemn replacement – Washington Examiner
House and Senate leaders in both parties reacted with dismay Sunday to news that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was stepping down.
Democrats condemned Trump’s pick to replace him, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Coats’ resignation “is bad news for the security of America.”
Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “very sorry to learn” Coats would be leaving the job.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer flatly rejected Trump’s plan to nominate Republican Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Coats.
“It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former special counsel Robert Mueller,” Schumer said Sunday. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.”
Coats, a former Indiana senator himself, is highly respected by senators on both sides of the aisle. McConnell lamented his departure, he said, at a time of growing international tension.
“Under Director Coats’ leadership, our agencies have gotten a better handle on the malign behavior of Russia, China, and other adversaries such as Iran and North Korea,” McConnell said. “Director Coats pushed for greater coordination in how the community approaches some of its hardest, most sensitive collection targets.”
Pelosi said Coats “was respected by those on both sides of the aisle as an American patriot,” adding, “DNI Coats’ successor must put patriotism before politics, and remember that his oath is to protect the Constitution and the American people, not the President.”
Ratcliffe, 53, is a relative newcomer to Congress. He was elected in 2014 after serving as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. He serves on the Homeland Security and Judiciary committees.
Republican North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker praised Trump’s pick, saying, “I can think of no one better for the Director of National Intelligence position than John Ratcliffe. The only thing stronger than his credentials is his character.”