Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) on Wednesday took direct aim at the whistleblower whose complaint about President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky triggered the impeachment proceedings, saying the person responsible for the complaint lied both verbally and in writing.
Speaking during the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing, Ratcliffe said the whistleblower distorted the content of Trump’s phone call, fabricating the idea that he was demanding Zelensky open up an investigation into the Biden family.
“Guess what word is not anywhere in the transcript – ‘demand,’” Ratcliffe said. “Nowhere in that transcript does the President make a demand. You know where the word demand came from? It came from the whistleblower.”
But Ratcliffe isn’t just a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He was nominated by President Trump this summer to replace Dan Coats as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). That nomination was withdrawn after it was revealed that Ratcliffe misrepresented several aspects of his professional background and had allegedly — wait for it — “promoted a company accused of being instrumental in the reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts”:
An email disclosing Rep. John Ratcliffe’s (R-TX) alleged involvement in a controversial whistleblowing case reached the White House prior to the announcement Friday that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for Director of National Intelligence, according to two sources with knowledge of the correspondence.
The email, originally sent to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, laid out how Ratcliffe promoted a company accused of being instrumental in the reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts, according to one of those sources. The Government Accountability Project, an organization that protects whistleblowers, is helping represent the unnamed government employee. Details about the case are being closely held in part because of security reasons.
Coats left the position after the White House continued to downplay his persistent warnings regarding the continued threat of Russian interference in U.S. elections.
Had Ratcliffe been confirmed by the Senate as initially planned, he, rather than eventual acting DNI Joseph Maguire, would have been charged with overseeing the department’s handling of the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint — and Maguire initially withheld the complaint from Congress. There isn’t much to suggest that Ratcliffe would have done differently.
Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson received the complaint on Aug. 12. Maguire later confirmed that the whistleblower followed all of the legal procedures required to file such a complaint before eventually authorizing its release. The complaint did not go public until Sept. 26.
In the initial complaint, which has been repeatedly corroborated by the testimonies of current and former White House officials, the whistleblower stated that they had “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
The word demand was used once in referring to how U.S. ambassadors approached the situation, stating (emphasis added), “Ambassadors [Kurt] Volker and [Gordon] Sondland reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelensky.”
Ratcliffe went on to accuse the whistleblower of lying because they “thought no one would ever be able to prove because what president would take the unprecedented step of releasing a transcript with a foreign leader,” which he claims was “something that the whistleblower never expected.”
“The president didn’t get caught – the whistleblower got caught. The whistleblower made false statements. The whistleblower got caught with Chairman [Adam] Schiff,” Ratcliffe said.
Fordham law Professor Jed Shugerman, for one, argued that, looking back, the timing of Trump’s attempt to replace Coats with Ratcliffe was suspicious.
Coats announced his resignation three days after President Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky. That call happened one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress. Ratcliffe made a name for himself that day for his questioning of Mueller.
At the time, the Ratcliffe nomination for DNI was perceived as a reward for such loyalty:
Mr. Coats, a former senator and longtime pillar of the Republican establishment who angered the president by providing unwelcome assessments of Russia, North Korea and other matters, told Mr. Trump last week that it was time to move on, officials said. His departure removes one of the most prominent national security officials willing to contradict the president.
If Mr. Ratcliffe is confirmed by the Senate, he will offer a starkly different perspective in the Situation Room, one more in line with Mr. Trump’s thinking. Mr. Ratcliffe, a third-term Republican from Texas and a former prosecutor, has embraced Mr. Trump’s theories about the Russia investigation and was among the sharpest questioners of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, at last week’s hearings.
[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]