The Slatest

White House Reportedly Told of Ratcliffe Involvement in Whistleblower Case Before Nixed as DNI Pick

Rep. John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, listens as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in Washington, DC, on July 24, 2019.
Rep. John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, listens as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in Washington, DC, on July 24, 2019.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

President Donald Trump blamed the media for the decision to withdraw Rep. John Ratcliffe from consideration as the new Director of National Intelligence. But the move also came shortly after the White House received an email that revealed how Ratcliffe was apparently involved in a “controversial whistleblowing case,” reports the Daily Beast. The Government Accountability Project, an organization that protects whistleblowers, sent an email to the Senate Select Intelligence committee detailing how Ratcliffe “promoted a company accused of being instrumental in the reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts.” The email then began circulating among those who had misgivings about whether Ratcliffe was qualified for the job. The Daily Beast expands on the connection:

Ratcliffe’s third-largest campaign donor in the 2019-2020 cycle, according to Open Secrets, a non-profit that tracks the intersection of money in politics, is a company that forced the shutdown of a critical government cybersecurity office. That’s according to an individual familiar with the whistleblower’s disclosure. Ratcliffe hosted the company in front of the House Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, the source said.

On Friday afternoon, Trump made it official that he was giving up on his plan to nominate Ratcliffe for the nation’s top intelligence job. “Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media,” he wrote. Ratcliffe also took to Twitter to claim he had asked the president to withdraw his name from consideration. “I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue. The country we all love deserves that it be treated as an American issue,” Ratcliffe wrote. “Accordingly, I have asked the President to nominate someone other than me for this position.” Trump claimed he gave Ratcliffe the option of moving forward with the nomination but warned him it would be a tough road.

It isn’t clear what role, if any, the email regarding the whistleblower had on dropping Ratcliffe’s nomination. After all, that was hardly the only issue plaguing the vocal Trump supporter. Senators from both parties weren’t really excited about the prospect of nominating him as his qualifications came under intense scrutiny and it was revealed that he had exaggerated his credentials. Considering Ratcliffe is only the latest in a string of people who withdrew from consideration for senior administration jobs after information was revealed about them, some Washington insiders questioned whether the White House does any real vetting of the eventual nominees. Trump, however, dismissed those concerns. “You vet for me. I like when you vet. … I think the White House has a great vetting process. You vet for me,” Trump told reporters. “When I give a name, I give it out to the press and you vet for me. A lot of times you do a very good job. Not always.”