Trump Blasts American Intelligence Agencies, Defends Russia
President-elect Donald Trump just insulted the entire U.S. Intel community by making and unprecedented claim.
Earlier this year, American intelligence agencies determined that Russian state-sponsored hackers were behind the theft and release of internal emails from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in an effort to help Donald Trump’s presidential bid. But Trump claims “the U.S. intel community is motivated by politics, and not hard evidence.”
“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe Russia interfered,” Trump told Time magazine in his “Person of the Year” interview, released Wednesday.
“That became a laughing point, not a talking point,” he added.
When Time reporters asked Trump if the conclusions reached by U.S. intelligence professionals who analyzed the hacks were “politically driven,” Trump replied, “I think so.”
This is an astounding thing for any American politician to claim. And it is astonishing to hear an American president-elect accuse the nation’s intelligence community ― which comprises 16 separate agencies and thousands of employees, many of whom perform dangerous jobs with zero recognition ― of conspiring to lie to the country in order to bolster one political candidate over another.
The president-elect has made no secret of his admiration for Russia’s autocratic president, Vladimir Putin, despite Russia’s myriad violations of international law. Now he is directly contradicting the findings of U.S. intel officers, who traced the data theft back to Russian state-sponsored hackers, who appeared to be trying to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor.
Already, Trump has raised concerns among intelligence professionals for his decision to skip most of his daily intelligence briefings, widely considered to be the most significant daily meetings on a U.S. president’s calendar.
As The Huffington Post states: Trump also upset U.S. spies this fall when he publicly described his classified intelligence briefings. Specifically, Trump claimed that he could tell from the body language of national security staffers after one briefing that they “were not happy” serving President Barack Obama.
Those comments prompted former deputy CIA Director Michael Morell to say Trump had “zero understanding of how intelligence works.”
Trump’s willingness to repeat false information has also caused headaches at U.S. spy agencies. In August, Trump repeatedly claimed to have seen a new “top secret” video of U.S. currency being unloaded from an airplane in Iran.
Trump’s comments are likely to further alienate him and his incoming administration from career intelligence officers, who serve on the front lines of America’s most sensitive military and diplomatic endeavors.