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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump walks out to the Rose Garden at the White House to announce a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government on Jan. 25, 2019. Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials Wednesday, calling them "extremely passive and naive" about the "dangers of Iran" and pushing back on their assessments of the Islamic State and North Korea.

In tweets, Trump offered what amounted to a rebuttal of testimony on global threats provided at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday by a panel of top officials from his administration.

Trump was most pointed in his pushback on the assessment of Iran. During testimony, officials said that Iran was not trying to build a nuclear weapon and was in compliance with an agreement forged during President Barack Obama's administration, from which Trump subsequently withdrew the United States.

"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump wrote. "They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran."

Trump added: "Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"

[RELATED: Arkansans in D.C. note faith in intelligence workers]

In earlier tweets Wednesday, Trump claimed "tremendous progress" in destroying the Islamic State and denuclearizing North Korea, seeking to counter less optimistic assessments by the intelligence officials.

Trump wrote that when he became president, the Islamic State "was out of control in Syria & running rampant."

"Since then tremendous progress made, especially over last 5 weeks," Trump wrote. "Caliphate will soon be destroyed, unthinkable two years ago."

Tuesday's testimony was linked to the release of the annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment," a report to Congress that ranks threats to U.S. national security from around the world and provides the public with an unclassified and up-to-date summary of the most pressing threats.

During the Senate hearing, officials warned that the Islamic State was capable of attacking the United States and painted a picture of a still-formidable terrorist organization.

Trump announced in December a plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria after concluding that "we have won" against the Islamic State. Prominent members of his own party have denounced what Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, on Tuesday called "a precipitous withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats noted that the terrorist group has suffered "significant leadership and territorial losses." But it still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, he said, and maintains eight branches, has more than a dozen networks and attracts thousands of supporters around the world.

Coats was joined on the panel by CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray and several other administration officials.

In his tweets, Trump also sought to defend progress on North Korea ahead of a planned second summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

During Tuesday's hearing, Coats said that North Korea was "unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities," which the country's leaders consider "critical to the regime's survival."

"North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S.," Trump wrote Wednesday. "No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization."

"Time will tell what will happen with North Korea, but at the end of the previous administration, relationship was horrendous and very bad things were about to happen. Now a whole different story," Trump added, noting that he was looking forward to the summit with Kim.

Trump's assessment Wednesday on North Korea was tempered compared with his initial claims after the first summit in June.

In tweets upon returning from that meeting, Trump declared America's "biggest and most dangerous problem" all but resolved. The deal he struck with Kim, he said, meant that there was "no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" and that "everybody can now feel much safer."

The first summit ended with a vague agreement that contained few concrete goals and deadlines.

Democratic lawmakers serving on Congress' intelligence committees accused Trump of undermining U.S. intelligence professionals.

"It is a credit to our intelligence agencies that they continue to provide rigorous and realistic analyses of the threats we face," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. "It's deeply dangerous that the White House isn't listening."

"If you're going to ignore that information, then you're going to make poor decisions," he added. "It means the country is fundamentally less safe."

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also weighed in.

"The President has a dangerous habit of undermining the intelligence community to fit his alternate reality," Warner said in a tweet. "People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter."

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., defended the intelligence agencies Wednesday, saying, "They are doing a very difficult job and they are actually trying to advance the president's priorities."

Trump also contradicted last year's global threat assessment from senior intelligence officials.

While his top intelligence officials warned about Russia's continuing efforts to conduct influence operations in the U.S., Trump continued to dismiss any notion that Russia had interfered in American elections.

Douglas Wise, a career CIA official and former top deputy at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Trump's criticism of the intelligence chiefs threatened to corrupt the process. Intelligence officers do not like to be at odds with the president, he said, and Trump's comments put them in an uncomfortable position.

"This is a consequence of narcissism, but it is a strong and inappropriate public political pressure to get the intelligence community leadership aligned with his political goals," Wise said. "The existential danger to the nation is when the policymaker corrupts the role of the intelligence agencies, which is to provide unbiased and apolitical intelligence to inform policy."

Information for this article was contributed by John Wagner and Shane Harris of The Washington Post; by Eileen Sullivan of The New York Times; and by staff members of The Associated Press.

A Section on 01/31/2019

Print Headline: Trump rips intelligence officials over risk report


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    January 31, 2019 at 4:37 a.m.

    When intelligence briefings don't support Trump's false narrative, he ridicules some of our nation's finest military leaders. This, from a president who never served one day in the military yet believes he's much smarter than those in the military. His "crisis" is at the border and he ignores the real threats from abroad. He puts our country at more risk than any other president in recent history. If confronted with a real crisis, I doubt he has the skills to get through even Day One without crawling up in the WH residence, afraid to come out.

  • 23cal
    January 31, 2019 at 6:50 a.m.

    You tell 'em, reality show guy.
    About "Democratic lawmakers serving on Congress' intelligence committees accused Trump of undermining U.S. intelligence professionals." Of course he did. He does it with the FBI constantly. He does it with the military. He does it with scientists. He does it with any and all experts who don't knuckle under to his bullshift. He undermines anyone who doesn't agree with his ignorance and bias based opinions. "The President has a dangerous habit of undermining the intelligence community to fit his alternate reality," Warner said in a tweet. Warner is spot on.
    "While his top intelligence officials warned about Russia's continuing efforts to conduct influence operations in the U.S., Trump continued to dismiss any notion that Russia had interfered in American elections." So they will get away with continuing to interfere. That sucks.

  • WGT
    January 31, 2019 at 7 a.m.

    This administration is being played. Russia and North Korea, both, are shaping and molding their agendas due to the operative in the Office. Our fellow citizens who were duped and gaslighted by the republican party, gerrymandering, and subtle mendacity, have allowed the clear and present danger of our government being hijacked by foreign influence.

  • Knuckleball1
    January 31, 2019 at 7:51 a.m.

    Yep, this Trump appointee will be looking for another job soon. The Toddler in Charge is the Smartest Man in the USA and only listens to his Puppet Master Putin in matters of National Security.

    All of the attention on the Southern Border, is taking the spot light off what Putin is doing in the Middle East and other parts of the World. Just what the Puppet Master wanted and the Toddler is doing a good job of trying to do as his Master wants.

  • PopMom
    January 31, 2019 at 7:59 a.m.

    Mueller, save us.

  • limb
    January 31, 2019 at 8:07 a.m.

    This is the man that Cotton, Bozeman, Griffin, Westerman, Womack stood behind and supported all the way. No one has put our military in more danger than these guys.

  • BoudinMan
    January 31, 2019 at 8:34 a.m.

    trump is looking more and more like a Russian asset in the White House.

  • hah406
    January 31, 2019 at 8:58 a.m.

    Willingly or not, he is a Russian asset. His ignorance knows no bounds, and he periodically gives aid and comfort to the world's despots. Sarah Sanders is now quoted as saying God wanted Trump to be president. My first thought when she said that was "is she high?" My second thought was that God probably doesn't give a rat's tail about who is POTUS.

  • mrcharles
    January 31, 2019 at 12:39 p.m.

    Shame on all of you castigating the DT. May I ask you what POTUS ever made the un human in N. Korea [ the 3rd member of the N. Korean trinity]smile so much? None. Who every made putin have that s--- eaten grin ever time he is around DT or DT is brought up? None. Who ever in the defense of merica , and being aginnn socialism told farmers dont worry about my screw up with china, I will provide you $$$$ just because you are farmers [whispering , yeah you supported me too].

    our gop leaders here in Utopia [ just check our rankings in civilized matters], believe , like faith, they dont need no evidence as they feel in their heart , regardless of what is said in that ancient book , I mean regardless of what DT said, that he meant it was others, way back in WWII that intelligence failed , not now [ being that a wholesale turn over in our intelligence community must have occurred in 2 years-of course this could be confused with administrations turnover in cabinet members]

    I guess we is in this there USA gotten the best golly gee darned POTUS ever, the MAGA man [many accomplices getting arrested].

    That is why our gop here in arkie land supports them unbended knee inhabitans of Israel, they like russia have never spied on us. Why Who can trust England [ see revolutionary war], trust france [ see beheading the aristocrats] or germany [ making us kill the members of the master race].

    like the Appalachian mountain believers of an added bunch of words to mark [ you know to smooth over the rough edges of nonsense] , just have faith, drink poison from the word of fox and handle snakes of DT and his lesser imps and putin, and you will not be harmed so says DT supporters here and there . Perhaps the deaths that occur would give pause, but being stupid, stupid is as stupid does, proudly spouted by our resident DT supporters.

    As to not being in the military , I do recall seeing a photo of him in his younger days with a military uniform on. Who knows he might have been a general like Gen mac?