Trump picks Ratcliffe as top intelligence official, again

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FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, during the House impeachment inquiry hearings in Washington. Trump has nominated Ratcliffe again to be nation's top intelligence official, (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump on Friday picked Rep. John Ratcliffe again to be the nation's top intelligence official, just months after abruptly ending an earlier effort to install him amid bipartisan criticism that the Texas Republican was unqualified for the post.

Trump's decision meant that once again the GOP-led Senate would have to decide whether to put the three-term lawmaker in charge of overseeing the 17 U.S. spy agencies that the president has repeatedly scorned.

It also puts the leadership of the intelligence community in the spotlight early in an election year in which those agencies are already warning that Russia is trying anew to interfere in the presidential race. Democrats have also accused Trump of installing people atop some agencies most noteworthy for their fealty to him, not intelligence expertise.

“All while our elections are perilously at risk of foreign interference. Just the way the President likes it,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and helped lead his impeachment by the House.

Trump initially named Ratcliffe for the job last summer, but abruptly withdrew his name just five days later, before the Senate even considered him. The president bowed to questions about Ratcliffe's qualifications and bipartisan concerns that he had little experience in the field of intelligence.

At the time, news reports challenged the accuracy of Ratcliffe’s resume. His selection then drew sharp criticism from Democrats and a lukewarm response from some Republicans.

Before being elected to Congress in 2014, Ratcliffe was mayor of Health, Texas, and a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Texas.

But since last summer, Ratcliffe's visibility rose as an ardent defender of Trump during the House's impeachment proceedings against him.