President Donald Trump's attempt to appoint Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to serve as Director of National Intelligence ended in humiliating failure. Ratcliffe faced intense scrutiny from the media and Senate Republicans for having no relevant experience and padding his resume as a prosecutor.
Trump has thus been sent back to the drawing board to try to find a new nominee to lead the 17-agency spy office, who both has the credentials to satisfy his own party and will give him the blind loyalty that he wasn't getting from former DNI Dan Coats. According to CNN, one of his top short-listers is Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra.
Hoekstra at least would be a step up from Ratcliffe on the qualifications scale — a Dutch-born former GOP congressman from Michigan, he has chaired the House Intelligence Committee and has diplomatic experience. Nevertheless, Hoekstra is controversial figure with a history of peddling bigoted conspiracy theories, particularly about Muslims.
In particular, Hoekstra notoriously claimed that Muslims have set up "no-go zones" in the Netherlands and lit cars and politicians on fire — something for which there is no evidence whatsoever. Faced with criticism from Dutch journalists, Hoekstra simply tried to pretend he had never said it — until he was confronted with a video clip of his comments. He ultimately was forced to apologize.
One of the initial reasons Trump reportedly gravitated to Hoekstra for DNI is that, as a Senate-confirmed official, he could be shunted into the role on an acting basis under the Vacancies Reform Act without needing additional Senate approval — a dubious method Trump has used to fill several key agencies. Now, however, he is thinking about putting him up for a full Senate confirmation, believing he would be able to get the votes.