Donald Trump’s incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday “there is no truth” to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that the president-elect is working with top advisers to restructure the nation’s top spy agency.
“These reports are false. All transition activities are for participation, gathering purposes, and all discussions are tentative. The President-elect’s top priority will be to ensure the safety of the American people and the security of the nation. He’s committed to finding the best and most effective way to do it,” declared Spicer during a transition daily call with reporters. “But – I want to reiterate — there is not truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure. It is 100 percent false.”
Citing unnamed individuals reportedly familiar with the plans on Wednesday, WSJ reported that Trump’s belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has grown “bloated and politicized” under President Barack Obama prompted the incoming commander-in-chief to work with top advisors on a plan to revamp America’s top spy agency.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,” an individual who is close to the Trump transition told WSJ. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
Trump has not kept secret his disdain towards what he believes the U.S. intelligence agencies have become under Obama.
Last year, a congressional task force confirmed allegations that senior U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) leaders manipulated intelligence assessments in 2014 and 2015 to make it appear that President Obama’s strategies were winning the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Referring to the alleged plans by Trump to revamp the top U.S. spy agency, WSJ reports:
The planning comes as Mr. Trump has leveled a series of social-media attacks in recent months and the past few days against U.S. intelligence agencies, dismissing and mocking their assessment that Russia stole emails from Democratic groups and individuals and then provided them to WikiLeaks for publication in an effort to help Mr. Trump win the White House.
One of the people familiar with Mr. Trump’s planning said advisers also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment.
For commending Russian President Vladimir Putin, criticizing U.S. spy agencies, and accepting an explanation by WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange of the hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the incoming commander-in-chief has drawn the ire of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Trump has also drawn criticism from intelligence and law-enforcement officials for the same reasons.
“Mr. Trump’s advisers say he has long been skeptical of the CIA’s accuracy, and the president-elect often mentions faulty intelligence in 2002 and 2003 concerning Iraq’s weapons programs,” notes WSJ. “But his public skepticism about the Russia assessments has jarred analysts accustomed to more cohesion with the White House.”
“Top officials at U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, have said Russia orchestrated the computer attacks on the Democratic Party last year,” also reports the Journal. “President Barack Obama ordered the intelligence agencies to produce a report on the hacking operation, and he is expected to be presented with the findings on Thursday.”
On Friday, Trump is expected to meet with the heads of the CIA, FBI, and DNI James Clapper to discuss the findings of the alleged Russian hacking.