Quite a bit to unpack here, and most of it is very good news. First, this re-nomination was almost predictable when you look at the totality of the landscape:
President Trump needed to generate an official DNI nomination in order to retain the current acting DNI authorities for Richard “Ric” Grenell; so that’s one aspect.
However, beyond the procedural move there’s the larger background of the FISA reauthorization; and, in my opinion, that larger dynamic is the majority consideration.
The FISA reauthorization and the need for President Trump to support any type of reauthorization that eventually gets through the complex political dynamics within congress; and considering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell traveled to the White House to discuss this issue yesterday; the outcome is considerable leverage for Trump.
On July 28, 2019, President Trump first nominated John Ratcliffe for the ODNI position to replace former DNI Dan Coats. However, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence headed by Chairman Richard Burr and Vice-Chairman Mark Warner, informed the White House they would not support Ratcliffe. Burr and Warner would not have made such a bold statement to undercut the nomination without approval from Mitch McConnell.
The epicenter of the deepest defensive mechanism of the Deep State is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The SSCI is the bunker, the intelligence manipulation operations headquarters. The SSCI is where the political nuclear weapons (black files and IC gathered political surveillance research) are housed. As a direct consequence the SSCI is the most corrupt and manipulative committee in all of congress. The SSCI also controls all nominations within the intelligence community (DNI, CIA, NSA, DOJ-NSD, etc).
As a result of Senator Burr and Senator Warner undermining Ratcliffe, on August 2, 2019, the Ratcliffe nomination was reluctantly withdrawn.
After the Ratcliffe nomination was withdrawn, President Trump was then dragged into the House impeachment effort. In hindsight it is clear the SSCI position of Burr and Warner was partly due to their desire to watch and see whether the impeachment effort would be successful. [August ’19 through February ’20 the impeachment effort was tried.]
Representative John Ratcliffe was/is a key member of the House who has investigated the details of the DOJ and FBI intelligence abuse during the 2016 election. Factually, Ratcliffe is one of only four high-clearance House members who had seen all of the unredacted and classified documents associated with the DOJ and FBI activity. [Ratcliffe, Gowdy, Goodlatte and Schiff]
In November of 2019 buried deep in the congressional budget Continuing Resolution (CR) was a short-term extension to reauthorize the FISA “business records provision”, the “roving wiretap” provision, the “lone wolf” provision, and the more controversial bulk metadata provisions [Call Detail Records (CDR)], all parts of the Patriot Act. As a result of the FISA CR inclusion the terminal deadline was pushed to March 15, 2020.
On December 9, 2019, the DOJ Inspector General report on FISA abuse was released to the public. Within the IG FISA report the prior statements of John Ratcliffe about the FISA abuse scandal were proven to be exactly correct. Additionally, the severity of the FISA abuse, including the intentional manipulation of evidence by the FBI, was far more serious and substantive than anyone thought.
While the FISA issues were being investigated congress punted the reauthorization of FISA to March 15. There is a current debate on whether those FISA authorities should be reauthorized.
Representatives requesting FISA reform prior to renewal include: Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Doug Collins, Jody Rice, Devin Nunes and Steve Scalise. Additionally, Senator Mike Lee and Senator Rand Paul are trying to force reform or let the current version expire. However, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, along with AG Bill Barr, want a clean FISA renewal without public hearings….
It is into this debate where President Trump’s support becomes critical. Yesterday:
Within the overall dynamic we can see where President Trump would gain leverage on Senate Leader Mitch McConnell over the FISA reauthorization issue. McConnell wants FISA reauthorized… President Trump wants John Ratcliffe as ODNI.
With that in mind, CTH presented the possibility:
Should Trump cut a deal with McConnell: Support for FISA reauthorization in exchange for Ratcliffe as ODNI? As you can see from our poll opinions were split with a slight advantage toward making the deal.
Personally, inasmuch as I hate-hate-hate the thought of FISA being renewed in its current context, I am cautiously okay with a deal because I trust current CIA Director Gina Haspel, current ICIG Michael Atkinson, current DoS Secretary Mike Pompeo and current DoD Joint Chief’s Chair Mark Milley, about as far as I can spit while facing a hurricane.
Having John Ratcliffe as ODNI at least provides President Donald Trump with control at the intelligence hub. If DNI Ratcliffe can then help to remove corrupt schemer Michael Atkinson (ICIG), even better.
The position of DNI is critical within the intelligence community. Essentially the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is the boss of the CIA Director and NSA Director; and the ODNI handles the flow of classified intelligence; and, importantly, the declassification of information to provide public sunlight.
In the position of DNI John Ratcliffe would have the ability to reach out into any intelligence compartment, retrieve and then declassify any/all documents that might be used to show the gross abuses of power by prior intelligence officials. [Acting DNI Ric Grenell also has that current authority.] The information within reach is the risk SSCI Chairman Senator Burr and Vice-Chair Warner have attempted to control.
It is likely President Trump would NOT be nominating John Ratcliffe today if he did not have the support of Mitch McConnell; and McConnell’s assurances the SSCI would not attempt to block the nomination this time.
Yes, it is possible President Trump would make the nomination without McConnell’s nod. However, that approach would mean Trump is about to enter an all-out war against Republicans in the Senate….. not terribly likely in an election year.
What is most likely is that President Trump used the leverage he carries within the FISA authorization issue to get McConnell to agree to the deal: FISA for Ratcliffe.
Now we wait to see the details; whether it’s a short-term FISA reauthorization, and what are the changed terms -if any- within the authority.