Update: Ratcliffe withdraws from consideration for director of national intelligence

by WorldTribune Staff, August 2, 2019

Rep. John Ratcliffe will not be the next Director of National Intelligence, President Donald Trump said in an Aug. 2 tweet.

Trump said Ratcliffe withdrew after realizing how difficult his Senate confirmation process would be.

The president tweeted: “I explained to John how miserable it would be for him and his family to deal with these people. John has therefore decided to stay in Congress where he has done such an outstanding job representing the people of Texas, and our Country. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly.”

Trump has granted full declassification powers to Attorney General William Barr in the investigation of the origins of the Russia collusion hoax.

Following is the WorldTribune.com report on Ratcliffe prior to the Aug. 2 update

The president’s nominee to head up U.S. intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe, has expressed “supreme confidence” in Barr and pledged to accelerate the investigation of the investigators.

Rep. John Ratcliffe was nominated by President Donald Trump to take over has director of national intelligence.

Trump associates who were dragged into the Russia probe believe Ratcliffe, as director of national intelligence, is someone who will get to the truth.

“I admire Rep. Ratcliffe, especially his tenacity,” Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign adviser, told The Washington Times. “I’m quite sure it’s this very same quality that has the guilty swamp roiling about his appointment.”

J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and Trump campaign adviser, told The Times: “As the shady origins of Trump-Russia are increasingly scrutinized, it’s important to have a director of national intelligence who is unafraid of exposing criminal behavior, even if at the highest levels of government.”

The departing director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, had taken a cautious, even skeptical approach and “warned against unauthorized disclosures” by Barr, security correspondent Rowan Scarborough noted in a July 30 report for The Washington Times.

As intel chief, Ratcliffe would be expected to expedite the document transfer to John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut who has set up shop in Washington for his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

Here is what Durham is examining:

During the 2016 presidential election, FBI agents placed spies on at least two Trump associates. The bureau embraced a dossier written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who was paid with money from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. The Steele dossier told of a vast Trump-Russia conspiracy, relying exclusively on shadowy Kremlin sources. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation didn’t find any conspiracy.

But, as The Hill’s John Solomon reported on July 31, the FBI seems intent on stonewalling the investigation of the investigators.

The FBI claimed in a July 10 court filing it can’t afford to “jeopardize the fragile relationships that exist between the United States and certain foreign governments,” a bureau official declared in arguing against the conservative group Citizens United’s Freedom of Information Act request to release Steele documents that the State Department sent to FBI agents.

The bureau, Solomon wrote, actually claimed that “FBI special agents have privacy interests from unnecessary, unofficial questioning as to the conduct of investigations and other FBI business.”

“In other words,” Solomon wrote, FBI agents “don’t want to have to answer to the public, which pays their salary, when questions arise about the investigative work, as has happened in the Russia case.”

The FBI’s July 10 court filing “speaks volumes about Director Christopher Wray’s efforts to thwart the public understanding of what really happened in the FBI’s now-debunked Russia collusion probe,” Solomon wrote.

Steele’s contacts at the State Department “can’t possibly be equated to the nation’s most sensitive secrets. The same research he provided to State and the FBI in fall 2016 was being provided to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and to the media.”

Steele was fired from the FBI on Nov. 1, 2016, for leaking information.

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“Any assumption of secrecy, privacy or classification is ludicrous,” Solomon wrote. “And a post-firing FBI analysis found most of Steele’s dossier was either wrong, could not be corroborated, or simply was made up of public source internet information. In other words, it was garbage intelligence.”

During Robert Mueller’s House testimony on July 24, Ratcliffe grilled the former special counsel for stating in his 448-page report that he could not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.

Ratcliffe, a former U.S. prosecutor, said that “not exonerate” isn’t found in any federal law or Justice Department guideline. The federal prosecutors either charge someone or they stay silent, he said.

“Donald Trump is not above the law,” the Texas Republican said. “He’s not. But he damn sure or shouldn’t be below the law.”

Mueller acknowledged that his use of the word “exonerate” was a special case for Trump.

In a Fox News interview, Ratcliffe said it is clear that people lied to Congress.

Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS that orchestrated and distributed the Steele dossier, testified that he didn’t meet with the Justice Department’s Bruce Ohr until after the Nov. 8, 2016, election.

But Ohr, then an associate deputy attorney general and dossier conduit, testified that they had met before Nov. 8.

“One of them is not telling the truth,” Ratcliffe said. “We need a process to identify that.”

Ratcliffe said former FBI Director James Comey “leaked confidential conversations with the president to a reporter.”

“Did that include classified information?” he asked.

When Ohr appeared before a joint House task force in August 2018, Ratcliffe interrogated him on Comey’s knowledge of the dossier.

Ohr was Fusion GPS’s main messenger for carrying Steele’s allegations to the Obama administration. Beginning in August, he briefed Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; agent Peter Strzok, who started the Trump investigation; FBI counsel Lisa Page; and Andrew Weissmann. Weissmann, a Democratic Party donor, headed the Justice Department’s fraud division and later joined Mueller’s staff.

“The Ohr contacts meant that the Justice Department’s power centers were awash in anti-Trump conspiracy allegations that turned out to be untrue,” Scarborough noted in his report for The Washington Times. “How exactly the dossier affected their decision-making is a question Durham may answer.”

Ratcliffe told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, “It does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration.”


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