December 11, 2016 by staff · Comments Off
Trump Rips CIA’s Russia Report, An extraordinary breach has emerged between President-elect Donald J. Trump and the national security establishment, with Mr. Trump mocking American intelligence assessments that Russia interfered in the election on his behalf, and top Republicans vowing investigations into Kremlin activities.
Mr. Trump in effect declared war on the intelligence agencies in a statement issued by his transition team on Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Trump’s team said.
Though Mr. Trump has wasted no time in antagonizing the agencies, to carry out priorities like combating t*rror*sm he will have to rely on them for the sort of espionage activities andanlysis that they spend more than $70 billion a year to perform.
At this point in a transition, a president-elect is usually delving into intelligence he has never before seen and learning about C.I.A. and National Security Agency abilities. But Mr. Trump, who has taken intelligence briefings only sporadically, is questioning not onlyanlytic conclusions, but also their underlying facts.
“To have the president-elect of the United States simply reject the fact-based narrative that the intelligence community puts together because it conflicts with his a priori assumptions – wow,” said Michael V. Hayden, who was the director of the N.S.A. and later the C.I.A. under President George W. Bush.
With the partisan emotions on both sides – Mr. Trump’s supporters see a plot to undermine his presidency, and Hillary Clinton’s supporters see a conspiracy to keep her from the presidency – the result is an environment in which even those basic facts become the basis for dispute.
Mr. Trump’s team lashed out at the agencies after The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A. believed that Russia had intervened to undercut Mrs. Clinton and lift Mr. Trump, and The New York Times reported that Russia had broken into Republican National Committee computer networks just as they had broken into Democratic ones, but had released documents only on the Democrats.
The president-elect finds himself in a bind after strenuously rejecting for months all assertions that Russia was working to help him. While there is no evidence that the Russian efforts affected the outcome of the election or the legitimacy of the vote, Mr. Trump and his aides want to shut the door on any such notion, including the idea that President Vladimir V. Putin schemed to put him in office.
Instead, Mr. Trump casts the issue as an unknowable mystery. “It could be Russia,” he recently told Time magazine. “And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
The Republicans who lead the congressional committees overseeing intelligence, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security take the opposite view. They say that Russia was behind the election meddling, but that the scope and intent of the operation need deep investigation, hearings and public reports.
One question they may want to explore is why the intelligence agencies believe that the Republican networks were compromised while the F.B.I., which leads domestic cyberinvestigations, has apparently told Republicans that it has not seen evidence of that breach. Senior officials say the intelligence agencies’ conclusions are not being widely shared, even with law enforcement.