Rep. John Ratcliffe, Texas Republican, has withdrawn his name from contention to become the next director of national intelligence, saying he didn’t want to spark the kind of partisan battle that was brewing over his selection.
President Trump announced the move on Twitter; and Mr. Ratcliffe confirmed it in a statement.
“I was humbled and honored that the president put his trust in me to lead our nation’s intelligence operations and remain convinced that when confirmed, I would have done so with the objectivity, fairness and integrity that our intelligence agencies need and deserve,” the Texan said. “However, I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue.”
Mr. Trump, who a day earlier had insisted Mr. Ratcliffe was on a path to confirmation, said Friday that the congressman had been treated “unfairly by the LameStream Media,” so it wasn’t worth it for him to continue through the confirmation process.
“Rather than going through months of slander and libel, 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,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
He said he will name another pick “shortly” to replace Dan Coats, who announced his resignation last month and will officially depart Aug. 15.
Sue Gordon, the deputy director, would normally ascend to become the acting director while a new nominee is pending, but The New York Times has reported that the White House is angling to block her.
Mr. Trump said that’s not the case as he departed for his New Jersey golf club. He said he is considering Ms. Gordon for the acting position.
“I like her very much, I’ve always liked Sue Gordon,” Mr. Trump said.
The president said he would pore over his list of potential nominees in New Jersey and nominate a permanent pick as soon as Monday.
Mr. Ratcliffe had attracted skepticism from the moment Mr. Trump announced his selection last month.
Many pundits and lawmakers questioned whether he had the adequate background for the job. Others said he might not be impartial enough for the post, reasoning that Mr. Trump had selected the congressman based on his performance during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s hearing on Capitol Hill.
Even top Republicans who are usually complimentary of the president’s picks were slow to back Mr. Ratcliffe.
“I haven’t met him yet. I look forward to meeting with him,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters who asked about the congressman’s chances for confirmation earlier this week.
Democrats were less charitable, cheering the news Friday that Mr. Ratcliffe was out.
“Thank goodness. Rep. Ratcliffe never should have been considered in the first place,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.
He called Mr. Ratcliffe the latest in a series of troubling Trump picks who seemed to have been selected “on a whim without consultation or vetting, and then forced withdrawal when [a] mess ensues.”
He pointed to Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, whom the president had been eyeing for seats on the Federal Reserve Board, and Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor who Mr. Trump tapped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Yet Democrats’ expectations for the DNI nominee may also be unrealistic. Over the past week, a number of them said they want Mr. Trump to pick someone who will stand up to him.
⦁ Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.