Coats did try to speak truth to power. He spoke up when it mattered, was honest about Russia’s attack on the 2016 election, and was willing to contradict Trump publicly on the future of North Korea’s nuclear program. One of Coats’ final acts as DNI actually was to appoint the nation’s first election security czar. That honesty appears to be a not insignificant part of why Coats was shoved aside, and ultimately out the door.
With a president so divorced from daily reality as Trump, it’s all the more important to fill the role of DNI with someone whose first duty is to puncture the Fox News fever swamp bubble that surrounds the White House, provide real facts and grounded analysis, and ensure—to whatever extent possible—that the information that flows into the Oval Office and the decisions that flow out of it are informed and strategic.
There’s little evidence that Ratcliffe is the man for the job. Beyond his antics cross-examining Mueller last week, he’s long been on the leading edge of criticizing the Russia investigation writ large. He was even the congressman who started the completely false rumor that the FBI—one of the intel agencies he is set to oversee—had an anti-Trump “secret society.”