Texan who was Trump pick for national intelligence director is withdrawing

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FILE – In this Wednesday, July 24, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas., questions former special counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump says John Ratcliffe, his pick for national intelligence director, to stay in Congress, cites unfair media coverage. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says his pick for national intelligence director has decided to withdraw from the running, citing unfair media coverage.

In a tweet Friday, Trump said Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas had decided to stay in Congress. Questions about Ratcliffe’s experience have dogged him since Trump announced his candidacy five days ago.

Trump didn’t cite any specific media reports, but tweeted that “rather than going through months of slander and libel,” he would be returning to Capitol Hill.

Trump accepted the resignation of former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats last week.

Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week. Intelligence experts had criticized his lack of experience in the field of intelligence.

In a statement, Ratcliffe said, “While I am and will remain very grateful to the President for his intention to nominate me as Director of National Intelligence, I am withdrawing from consideration.”

“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 statement said.

“However,” he added, “I do not wish for a national security and intelligence debate surrounding my confirmation, however untrue, to become a purely political and partisan issue.”

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