WASHINGTON -- Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation expressed confidence in the nation's intelligence apparatus, hours after President Donald Trump on Wednesday portrayed the intelligence community as "extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran."
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., a House Intelligence Committee member, said he believes Trump's criticism was aimed primarily at the "previous leaders in the intelligence community that actually hammered out the Iran agreement and advised the previous president."
"I don't characterize his assessment as maligning the entire intelligence community," Crawford said in an interview.
Asked if he has faith in the leadership of the intelligence community, the lawmaker from Jonesboro said, "The current intelligence community, yes."
Questioned about whether the president's latest tweets had been helpful or harmful, Crawford said: "I think the President tends to speak his mind. I'll leave it at that."
Trump posted the tweets a day after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Both officials portrayed Iran as continuing to comply with a 2015 agreement that restricts its use of nuclear materials.
In a written statement Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., echoed Trump's warnings about Tehran while also expressing faith in the leadership of Coats.
"Iran is a bad actor who threatens the U.S. and our allies while actively seeking to destabilize the Middle East. It is no secret the regime still wants to have nuclear capabilities and we cannot allow that to happen. That has always been, and continues to be, my stance on the issue and I don't think that would conflict with the views of Director Coats," the lawmaker from Rogers said.
After questioning the intelligence community's assessment of Iran, Trump had tweeted, "Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"
Boozman, on the other hand, insisted the intelligence community has a steady hand at the helm.
"I had the privilege of serving with Dan Coats in the Senate. I have the utmost confidence in his leadership as the Director of National Intelligence and trust the assessment he provided. Likewise, I am confident that Director Coats and the hardworking professionals that make up our intelligence community will continue to pay close attention to the actions of [the] regime in Tehran," Boozman said.
In a written statement, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., gave high marks to the intelligence community.
"As a general rule, I certainly have confidence in our intelligence professionals. They work around the clock in a tireless effort to anticipate our adversaries and offer their best advice for our policy deliberations," the lawmaker from Little Rock said.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was not commenting Wednesday on the president's latest tweets, Cotton's spokesman said.
But the Dardanelle native's past statements reflect his "consistent admiration for the hard work of tens of thousands of Americans serving our country in the Intelligence Community," the spokesman added.
Cotton had urged the president to reject the Iranian nuclear deal forged during the Barack Obama administration.
In May, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement.
Asked, via text, whether he has faith in the nation's intelligence people, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., replied, "Yes."
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., had not responded to a request for comment by early Wednesday evening.
A Section on 01/31/2019
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