The Director of National Intelligence denied a report from The Wall Street Journal that the community is withholding information from President Donald Trump over concerns it might be leaked or compromised.
“Any suggestion that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true,” the intel head said Wednesday in a statement following the WSJ report.
Current and former officials told WSJ the intelligence community is treating Trump differently than past presidents, choosing in some cases not to reveal sources and methods of intel over concerns about whether he can be trusted. In particular, they said they’re concerned about Trump’s ties with Russia and the level of support he publicly expressed for Vladimir Putin during the presidential campaign.
The report underscores the narrative that a major rift, even a feud, is on between Trump and the intelligence agencies. Adding on to past criticism of the community, Trump blamed it Wednesday for Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser, and vowed the “low-life” leakers would be “caught” Thursday morning. If the community isn’t hostile, the report suggests at least a deep level of mistrust toward the new president.
The DNI statement is clearly worded in an aim to refute the report, although it leaves some wiggle room in terms of what exactly constitutes “withholding information.”
“‘Withholding’ is not right way to think of story, WH never gets everything,” Brookings fellow and former intelligence community attorney Susan Hennessey tweeted, regarding the statement. “Story is IC is spooked and being unusually cautious with WH.”
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