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President Trump at his Jan. 21 visit to the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the intelligence community has kept sensitive intelligence from President Trump out of concerns that the information could be compromised. From the Journal:
The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him. In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.
Intelligence officials told the Journal that no information pertaining to imminent security risks had been withheld. The White House has categorically denied the Journal’s reporting. “There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening,” a White House official told the paper.
Tensions between the White House and the intelligence community were further underscored Wednesday in a New York Times report on President Trump’s plan to have billionaire investor Stephen Feinberg lead a review of the intelligence community. From the Times:
The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump blamed leaks from the intelligence community for the departure of Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, whose resignation he requested. There has been no announcement of Mr. Feinberg’s job, which would be based in the White House, but he recently told his company’s shareholders that he is in discussions to join the Trump administration. He is a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council.
Intelligence officials fear that Feinberg, who was considered as a candidate for CIA chief or director of national intelligence, could curb the independence of intelligence agencies to bring them in line with the Preisdent’s thinking on national security topics. “On an array of issues — including the Iran nuclear deal, the utility of NATO, and how best to combat Islamist militancy,” the Times’ James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg write, “much of the information and analysis produced by American intelligence agencies contradicts the policy positions of the new administration.”