Senate confirms Ratcliffe as national intelligence chief

In this May 5, 2020 photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee during his nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has confirmed Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence, installing a new head of the nation’s intelligence agencies at a time when President Donald Trump has ousted multiple officials.

The Texas Republican will replace Richard Grenell, the current acting director who has overseen many of the personnel changes.

The last Senate-confirmed director, former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, left the post last summer after clashing with Trump. Democrats say they are skeptical that Ratcliffe will be an independent leader, despite his assurances during his confirmation hearing.

Republicans have praised Ratcliffe, who has been ardent defender of President Donald Trump, while Democrats have been skeptical that he would serve with the independence they say is crucial for the job.

Trump tapped the Rockwall Republican whose district includes Grayson, Fannin and Lamar counties for the same job last year, but Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration amid bipartisan concerns about his qualifications.

Ratcliffe was first elected to represent Texas' Fourth Congressional District in 2014 when he unseated 17-term incumbent Ralph Hall.

In late 2018, Trump reportedly considered Ratcliffe for the role of Attorney General before appointing William Barr.

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