John Ratcliffe, the Republican congressman who has been nominated by Donald Trump to lead the American intelligence community, follows 9/11 truthers and the far-right accounts pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter, a new report has found.
The Texas Republican’s nomination is going before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he has been met with resistance from Democrats and pointed questioning from some Republicans. While many have questioned whether Ratcliffe is qualified to hold the position as director of national intelligence, a new report highlighting some connections to the far-right fringes of social media has raised new concerns.
The Daily Beast noted that Ratcliffe’s verified campaign Twitter account follows a 9/11 truther — someone who believes that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were in some way perpetrated by the American government — that has just one other follower besides Ratcliffe. The account also follows four that promote the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has arisen during Trump’s presidency to spread a series of debunked predictions about top Democrats being arrested. As the report noted, QAnon followers believe that “the world is run by a cabal of Democratic” cannibalistic criminals and have been identified as a potential source of far-right domestic terrorism by the FBI.
The connections between Ratcliffe and the far-right have not escaped some of his political opponents. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon told The Daily Beast that Ratcliffe is a “partisan politician who has spent the last two years promoting conspiracy theories in defense of Donald Trump.”
The report noted that it is not clear if Ratcliffe himself follows the accounts or subscribes to the theories they posit. Politicians have often been known to assign social media accounts to dedicated members of the campaign.
Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence and NBC News analyst, noted that Ratcliffe has also been critical of the FBI’s investigation into potential connections between Trump’s 20126 presidential campaign and Russian interference of the election. Ratcliffe echoed Trump in claiming that the investigation was meant to undermine his administration.
As CNN reported, Ratcliffe was grilled by senators on Tuesday over whether he would provide intelligence to Trump that the president may not want to hear. The report noted the Ratcliffe came into the nomination with a reputation as a staunch defender of the president, who has been known to clash with the intelligence community and has publicly contradicted many of its findings.
But Ratcliffe pledged to bring forward information in an unbiased manner as DNI chief.
“Whether you are talking about the President, whether you are talking about Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell — anyone’s views on what they want the intelligence to be will never impact the intelligence that I deliver. Never,” Ratcliffe said.