Next US coronavirus rescue package not too far off: McConnell By Reuters

Senate confirms Trump nominee John Ratcliffe to be top US spy

Trump's nominee for director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, could be confirmed as soon as Thursday.

The Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday voted to issue a subpoena for its investigation into presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son Hunter, though there's no evidence of wrongdoing by either of the Bidens.

Ratcliffe's recent nomination was approved 8-7 in a closed committee hearing Tuesday, with all Democrats voting against it, according to a committee aide.

At least one Republican, Sen.

Democrats allowed a quick vote on the nomination this week, dropping their usual procedural delays in a signal that they prefer Ratcliffe over Grenell. Standing behind McConnell is Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.

Ratcliffe will take over the agency at a tumultuous time. At the same time, Trump has viewed the intelligence agencies with distrust and ousted or fired multiple officials. The same week, Politico ran a piece describing the upper chamber as a legislative "graveyard", adding that even some Senate Republicans have noticed the chamber's "standstill", and conceded it's "frustrating" how little work the chamber was doing.

"When Congress comes knocking, the Intelligence Community must answer", he continued.

The Texas Republican will replace Richard Grenell, the current acting director who has overseen numerous personnel changes. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

As acting director, Grenell made personnel changes and ordered reviews of the national intelligence director's office that critics feared were an attempt to clean house. The last Senate-confirmed director, former Indiana Sen.

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Ratcliffe replaces former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, a former U.S. senator who had good relationships with legislators but clashed with Trump. That's what DNIs, including the previous one, Dan Coats, did. But Democrats have been sceptical that he will serve with the independence they say is crucial for the job. Mark Warner, D-Va., said at Ratcliffe's confirmation hearing earlier this month. "A unsafe combination", he said. Ratcliffe, but said the new director will have "tremendous power to do good and to be transparent".

First elected to the US Congress, Ratcliffe sits on the House judiciary and intelligence committees. When he was first nominated, senators questioned whether he had enough intelligence experience and whether he was picked because of his willingness to defend Trump.

Ratcliffe took issue with the special counsel's office's findings, outlined in the second volume, that it could not draw a definitive conclusion as to whether Trump obstructed the Russian Federation investigation. Republicans said they had confidence in him.

Ratcliffe worked to separate himself from the president at his confirmation hearing, including by saying he believed Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a conclusion Trump has resisted.

Last week, for instance, Senate Republicans released a declassified list of former intelligence officials who requested the identity of an American from intelligence reports. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation under oath.

"No lawyer for Flynn has ever seen it or heard the recording" of the call, Flynn's lawyer, Sidney Powell, said in an email to The Associated Press".

"I want to remind him as I have reminded many heads of departments before: transparency brings accountability and the public's business ought to be public", Mr. Grassley said in a statement.

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