From Sen. Mark Warner’s opening statement at the confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX):
SEN. MARK WARNER: Unfortunately, what we’ve seen from the president ever since he came into office is an unrelenting and, I believe, undeserved attack upon our professional women and men of our intelligence agencies. This is not because our intelligence community is deserving of these attacks. Nor are they at the heart of some, quote unquote, deep state conspiracy to undermine our political leaders. No, I believe the president attacks our intelligence agencies for one simple reason, because unvarnished truth and unembellished analysts–analysis are not welcome in this White House. What we’ve seen over the last year has been especially dangerous the systematic firing of in the one at the ODNI who has the temerity to speak truth to power. From DNI Dan Coates and principal deputy DNI Sue Gordon to acting DNI Admiral Joe Maguire to acting Director of National Counterterrorism Senator Russ Travers to the Inspector General of the intelligence community Michael Atkinson’s. These firings and forced departures from the leadership of the intelligence community have left the ODNI without a single Senate confirmed leader at the helm. Instead, an acting DNI with no experience in intelligence but with plenty of political loyalty to the President has been appointed to oversee America’s intelligence enterprise. As acting DNI this individual promptly instituted a hiring freeze and reorganization whose purpose has not been communicated through the intelligence oversight committees. He also quickly fired senior leaders with decades of experience in the IC. Alarmingly we have begun to hear reports that intelligence professionals have been inappropriately pressured to limit the information they share with Congress. And now Mr. Ratcliffe the President has nominated you to this critical position of national security and intelligence leadership. I have to say that while I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt during this hearing I don’t see what has changed since last summer when the President decided not to proceed with your nomination over concerns about your inexperience, partisanship and past statements that seem to embellish your record. This includes some particularly damaging remarks about whistleblowers which has long been a bipartisan cause on this committee. I will speak plainly. I still have some of the same doubts now as I had back in August. Some have suggested that your main qualification for confirmation to this post is that you are not ambassador but frankly that’s not enough. Before we put the Senate stamp of approval and confirm a nominee to this critical position senators must demand the qualities that the Senate specified when it passed the law creating the ODNI after 911, legislation which my colleagues like Senator Collins helped author. We must expect and demand professionalism, a nonpartisan commitment to the truth and a rock solid dedication to defending those who defend us every day, the professional women and men of our nation’s intelligence committees. I hope that today we can get a sense of your ability to adhere to that requirement. I look forward to the questioning and look forward to this opportunity. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.