President Donald Trump says Rep. John Ratcliffe will no longer be nominated as director of national intelligence to replace Dan Coats.
"Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media," Trump wrote on Twitter. "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. I will be announcing my nomination for DNI shortly."
Trump privately voiced concern in recent days about Ratcliffe's ability to be confirmed as the next director of national intelligence, according to two people who spoke with him. Trump had been assured by allies before selecting Ratcliffe that he would be an easy pick, and so the president was surprised when Ratcliffe started facing issues from senators who had their own concerns.
Shortly after Trump's announcement, Ratcliffe tweeted that he was withdrawing from consideration.
"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 post read.
"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. The country we all love deserves that it be treated as an American issue. Accordingly, I have asked the President to nominate someone other than me for this position," Ratcliffe added.
Republican Senators raised concern to the White House about Ratcliffe ahead of Trump's announcement he would no longer be nominated, according to two White House officials and sources familiar with the process.
Senators "have made their views known" about Ratcliffe, one White House official told CNN.
"The nomination was greeted with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. The Senators don't know Congressman Ratcliffe, and none of them seemed eager to champion his nomination. The only positive from the administration's standpoint was that the nomination got lost in the combination of the usual pre-August recess scramble and the Democratic presidential debates," a Senate GOP aide said.
A source familiar with the situation also told CNN that some senior administration officials had reservations about whether Ratcliffe was the right person for the job and were raising questions about whether he could be confirmed.
Before his nomination was pulled, two White House officials downplayed questions about Ratcliffe's qualifications, saying the thinking among some inside the White House was that Ratcliffe's lack of national security experience was not as much of an issue.
The more important thing in the President's view, according to the officials, was to have someone who melds with Trump personality-wise and can be a 'credible interlocutor' with the administration, Congress and other countries -- which the President believed Ratcliffe fit the bill for, at least before he withdrew.