The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Rep. John Ratcliffe as the next director of national intelligence.
Ratcliffe, R-Texas, was approved on a 49-44 vote. The installment comes as the intelligence community once again finds itself in the middle of a political firestorm, over whether Trump associates were improperly "unmasked" in intelligence reports during the latter days of the Obama administration.
Ratcliffe's nomination was voted out of the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week on a party-line vote of 8-7, reflecting lingering partisan tensions over the post.
“The DNI’s role is crucial to our national security, and I look forward to working with Director Ratcliffe as he oversees the efforts of our nation’s 17 intelligence agencies," acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement Thursday. "In a time when the threats to our nation are many and varied, it is critical to have a Senate-confirmed DNI ensuring the wide array of intelligence agencies are sharing information across lines, coordinating capabilities, and working in the furtherance of our nation’s security using 21st century, cutting edge capabilities."
Rubio added: "Director Ratcliffe understands this responsibility, and I am confident that he will fulfill all of the roles assigned to the DNI with integrity.”
During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Ratcliffe, R-Texas, pledged to senators that he’d deliver intelligence information without bias if confirmed for the job. Ratcliffe, who was one of Trump’s fiercest allies during impeachment, said he had the experience to be an independent leader of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies, given his past work as a federal prosecutor.
“The best job I ever had was to be the United States attorney and what I loved…was it was an apolitical position,” Ratcliffe told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. “I stood up always to represent the United States of America. Never one party or another. And I very much view that as this role for the DNI.”
Ratcliffe also vowed to deliver “unvarnished,” truthful information to the president, regardless of whether it may anger him.
Ratcliffe offered assurances that he would stand up for whistleblowers in the intelligence community, amid heated debate over the treatment of a whistleblower whose complaint touched off impeachment proceedings.
"I want to make it very clear, if confirmed as DNI, every whistleblower -- past, present and future -- will enjoy every protection under the law," he said.
Ratcliffe was one of the most vocal critics of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The president nominated Ratcliffe to serve as DNI in February, just months after the congressman abruptly withdrew his name for the same post when he was first put forward to replace Dan Coats.
When Ratcliffe withdrew his name, Trump at the time cited his tough treatment at the hands of “the LameStream Media.”
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, is currently serving as acting DNI.
However, he has made waves in that position while Ratcliffe has gone through the confirmation process, most recently declassifying files related to the "unmasking" of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's name in intelligence reports.
It's unclear from the files whether any of those requests were improper, but the development fueled accusations from Trump allies that Flynn was targeted in advance of a fateful FBI interview that led to his guilty plea of lying to investigators -- a case the DOJ has since moved to dismiss.