Senate confirms John Ratcliffe as new US spy chief | Trump News

President Donald Trump's candidate to be the next U.S. spy chief, John Ratcliffe, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday.

The Senate voted 49-44 on party lines to confirm Ratcliffe, whose nomination last year was withdrawn in the face of bipartisan opposition.

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Ratcliffe is a Republican member of the House of Representatives and was a vocal advocate for Trump during the president's impeachment in 2019.

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Democrats opposed Ratcliffe's nomination, but removed procedural objections to a quick vote, as members of both parties want a Senate-confirmed candidate in office.

The position had been temporarily filled by interim director Richard Grenell, a Trump supporter who oversaw a shake-up in American intelligence agencies that raised concerns on Capitol Hill.

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Ratcliffe is seen as equally loyal to Trump, but promised at his Senate hearing that he was an independent head of the country's intelligence agencies and said he would keep Congress informed of important developments.

Ratcliffe replaces former director of national intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, a former U.S. senator who had a good relationship with lawmakers but came into conflict with Trump.

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Trump, who has long been skeptical of the country's intelligence community, has installed interim chiefs and removed and fired several intelligence officials.

Ratcliffe was chosen by Trump for the job in July 2019, shortly after Coats' resignation, but later withdrew after some Senate Republicans questioned his lack of experience.

Republican senators were enthusiastic about Ratcliffe after Trump unexpectedly named him again in February, as concerns about Grenell and turnover in the intelligence community grew.

Most Republicans have praised Ratcliffe since his second nomination. But Democrats are skeptical that he will serve with the independence they say is crucial to the job.

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As a DNI, Ratcliffe will take the lead on 17 intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

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At his hearing, Ratcliffe worked to separate from the president, including saying that he believed Russia would interfere in the 2016 presidential elections, a conclusion that Trump often resisted.

He said he would report Trump's findings to the intelligence community, even though he knew Trump disagreed with them and could fire him.

Samantha Power: & # 39; USA is moving away from its democratic allies & # 39; | Talk to Al Jazeera (25:47)

Democrats were not convinced. The panel's top Democrat, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, told Ratcliffe at the hearing "I don't see what has changed since last summer", referring to when Ratcliffe's appointment was withdrawn in 2019.

Ratcliffe's recent nomination passed on April 8 and 7 in a closed committee on Tuesday, with all Democrats voting against it, according to a commission adviser.

Ratcliffe serves on the House's intelligence, judiciary and ethics committees. He was a member of Trump's impeachment advisory team last fall and aggressively questioned witnesses during the House's impeachment hearings.

He vigorously questioned former special lawyer Robert Mueller last year, when Mueller testified about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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