'Fake News': Former CIA Analyst Slams WaPo Story Alleging Intel Community Concerns About Trump
The anti-Trump media is pushing a Washington Post story published yesterday that claims President Trump has a tenuous relationship with the U.S. intelligence community -- but one former member of the intelligence community is calling it "fake news."
The article claims that the president "continues to reject the judgments of U.S. spy agencies on major foreign policy fronts" and that this has become "a source of mounting concern to senior U.S. intelligence officials."
"This story should scare everyone," wrote NBC's "Fusion Ken" Dilanian on Twitter. "This is an important story ... on the widening gap between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community," wrote Bill Rucker, the White House bureau chief for the Washington Post. Slate's Will Saletan said it was an "excellent" report that "exposes a growing menace."
"I’ll believe that Trump is growing into the presidency when his staff stops talking about him like a toddler," wrote Daniel Drezner, a professor at the Fletcher School at Tuft University.
Drezner's comment was based on the claims of an anonymous "U.S. official" who suggested that the intel community had to dumb down the presidential daily briefing for Trump:
From the start of Trump’s presidency, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence began streamlining the PDB, reducing it to a collection of bullet points and images or graphics. U.S. officials have made additional adaptations over the past two years.
They generally refrain from sending analysts who are deep experts on a specific subject, instead dispatching generalists for meetings with a president whose attention tends to wander.
“Either it doesn’t resonate or there is a lack of comprehension,” the U.S. official said. “You feel frustration and helplessness in a way. What else can you do?”
Fred Fleitz, a former chief of staff for the Trump White House National Security Council, gave the Washington Post's Greg Miller an on-the-record interview for the article. Fleitz decried on Twitter what he called a "very misleading fake news piece" and "bad journalism."
"He ignored most of what I told him in an on-the-record interview and misrepresented the few quotes from me that he used," Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, wrote.
Fleitz told PJ Media the presidential daily briefing has always used images and graphics. "I was a PDB receipient," he said, adding that it was no different from when he worked for the intelligence community and wrote PDB items. "The only difference now is many PDB recipients get the PDB on iPads," he said.
Fleitz said on Twitter that it was clear at the start of his telephone conversation with Miller "that the outcome of this piece was a foregone conclusion." He added that Miller wasn't interested in his assessment based on his work in the NSC, or that President Trump's relationship with the United States intelligence community "is going well and has greatly improved." Fleitz blamed former CIA director John Brennan for the political damage done to the intelligence community.
The Post characterized Fleitz as one of "Trump’s defenders" and quoted him as saying that the president's "relationship with the intelligence community (IC) has improved over the past year, in part because of the departure of leaders who had held senior jobs under President Barack Obama."
“The president had understandable reservations about the IC,” said Fred Fleitz, a former intelligence officer who served in the White House under national security adviser John Bolton for several months this year.
“The good news is that Mike Pompeo and John Bolton have been resolving this problem and restoring the president’s confidence in the IC,” Fleitz said.
Fleitz, a former chief of staff to Bolton, complained on Twitter that "Miller could not bring himself to admit that @AmbJohnBolton is one of the IC's best customers."
In a text to PJ Media, Fleitz laid out the damage he believes has been done by both current and former IC officials:
1) The repeated criticism of Trump to the press that he could not be trusted and was a traitor because of alleged ties to Russia.
2) Current and former CIA officers telling the press they would refuse to brief trump.
3) The series of leaks in late 2016-early 2017 -- including the leak of the Flynn NSA transcript. At least some of tis came from IC officers.
4) John Brennan, both his incredibly inappropriate vicious criticism of Trump and what now appears to be his concerted efforts in 2016 to promote a false narrative that the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia.
5) Politicization of intelligence to hurt Trump, especially the Jan. '17 intel community assessment that found Russia meddled in the 2016 election and did so to help Trump win.
Fleitz spoke about many of these same issues in an interview on Fox News back in June of 2017: