Mary Anne Marsh, a political analyst for Fox News, raised concerns on Monday that President Donald Trump appeared to be consolidating his control over the U.S. intelligence community with the nomination of GOP Representative John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence.
"It's more about protecting Trump than America," Marsh, who previously served as a senior adviser to Democratic Senator John Kerry, warned during a segment of Fox News' America's Newsroom on Monday. "John Ratcliffe has been all over the investigate the investigators [probe], who's doing that right now? [Attorney General] Bill Barr, so Donald Trump has consolidated his control over the intelligence committees at a time when he's given Barr unprecedented access and control over all the intelligence information, which we've never seen by an attorney general before," she said.
"Now he adds Ratcliffe," the analyst asserted. "So this is Trump locking down the intelligence community for his purposes, not national security purposes."
Trump reportedly long aimed to replace Coats, a Republican, as he did not see him as loyal enough to his administration. On Sunday, the president announced that Coats would be leaving office on August 15 and that he had nominated Ratcliffe, who represents Texas, as his replacement.
"I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence. A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves," the president wrote in a tweet.
Republican Senator Richard Burr, who represents North Carolina and is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, suggested in a Monday statement that Ratcliffe's nomination would quickly be approved by his committee. "When the White House submits its official nomination to the Senate Intelligence Committee, we will work to move it swiftly through regular order," Burr said, NPR reported.
As Marsh explained, Ratcliffe has been a staunch supporter of the president, particularly in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference and its alleged involvement with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
"So Americans need to know this, as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle, as they do dramatic readings from this report: that Volume 2 of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department," he argued during Mueller's testimony to the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees last week. "And it was written in violation of every DOJ [Department of Justice] principle about extra-prosecutorial commentary," the congressman said.
As Democratic lawmakers continue to investigate allegations against Trump and his administration, as well as push for legislation to challenge Russian election interference, Ratcliffe would serve in a prominent role that he could potentially use to shield the president.