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 has decided to stay in Congress. Questions about Ratcliffe's experience have dogged him since Trump announced his candidacy five days ago.
Our great Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe is being treated very unfairly by the LameStream Media. 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....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2019
....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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2019
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."