- President Donald Trump continued to downplay much of the criticism coming his way following an intelligence assessment that contradicted his administration’s take on some of the global threats facing the US.
- In a photo of himself surrounded by National Security Adviser John Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel, and National Intelligence director Dan Coats, Trump claimed on Twitter that a Tuesday Senate hearing, during which intelligence officials contradicted his own statements on policy, was “mischaracterized by the media.”
- A draft Pentagon report expected to be released next week also threw cold water on Trump’s upbeat assessment of the war against ISIS, according to NBC News.
- “It would be laughable if it weren’t so scary,” a former National Security Council official told INSIDER.
US President Donald Trump continues to dodge much of the flak coming his way following a key intelligence assessment that undermined most of his administration’s rhetoric about global threats to the US.
During the annual Worldwide Threats hearing on Tuesday, top US Intelligence officials outlined what possible threat scenarios the US and its allies are facing in 2019, describing for senators the dangers posed by the Islamic State, North Korea, and Iran – as well as the resurgent great-power threats out of China and Russia. The public event was followed by a closed-door hearing.
In a photo of himself surrounded by National Security Adviser John Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel, and National Intelligence director Dan Coats, Trump claimed on Twitter that the fairly damning Senate intelligence hearing on Tuesday was “mischaracterized by the media.”
Trump claimed he was “very much in agreement” with the intelligence community’s assessment of US threats, despite his intelligence chiefs suggesting otherwise on many occasions.
“Their testimony was distorted press,” Trump said on Twitter. “I would suggest you read the COMPLETE testimony from Tuesday. A false narrative is so bad for our Country.”
“I value our intelligence community,” he added. “Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”
Despite Trump’s optimistic assessment of the administration’s progress against ISIS, Coats told lawmakers that the militants were “intent on resurging and still command thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”
While the consensus among analysts is that the terrorist group has been significantly weakened from the height of its power, Coats said ISIS will look to use guerilla warfare to “very likely continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.”
A draft Pentagon report expected to be released next week threw cold water on Trump’s rosy assessment of the war against ISIS – upon which he based his decision for a rapid troop withdrawal from Syria. The draft report from the Defence Department’s inspector general is believed to say that ISIS fighters in Syria could regain control of a sizeable region in six to 12 months, two US officials told NBC News.
Nevertheless, Trump lashed out at the US intelligence community on Wednesday and lambasted the annual threat assessment.
“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump tweeted,adding: “Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
Ned Price, a former National Security Council official during President Barack Obama’s administration, told INSIDER that a sitting US president mocking and contradicting the intelligence community to the public is concerning.
“It would be laughable if it weren’t so scary,” he said.
“[Trump] needs to decide which take is his – but more to the point, politicizing the intelligence apparatus is not only unprecedented but dangerous,” Price added. “This does our adversaries’ work for them.”
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