President Trump issued statements condemning the leadership of the US intelligence community on Wednesday, following Tuesday testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee which broke with the administration’s stated positions on almost every major foreign policy issue.
Trump in particular singled them out for being “extremely passive and naive” with respect to Iran. Trump claimed that Iran’s economy is crashing and claimed that is the only thing “holding them back.” He faulted Iran for missile testing, likely a reference to attempted satellite launches that the US has been objecting to, and added that “intelligence should go back to school!”
Interestingly, the topic of Iran was a fairly limited one at the Tuesday committee hearing, which mostly focused on things like election fraud risks and Shi’ite militias in Iraq. President Trump, however, mostly ignored those topics and instead hyped his hawkish position on Iran, apparently feeling more comfortable defending his hawkishness than his comparative reasonableness on other issues.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats contradicted Trump on many different issues during the testimony, in particular dismissing the idea of a denuclearization deal with North Korea, and undercutting the idea that ISIS is nearly defeated in Syria.
Trump did reiterate his positions on Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea, saying there is a “decent chance’ of denuclearization. He did not, however, offer the same level of defense for withdrawing from Syria or making peace in Afghanistan as he did for threatening and sanctioning Iran, and on North Korea just suggested, as always, that we’ll “see what happens.”
This is not the first time Trump has gotten angry at the intelligence community for assessments that contradict his public positions.
That fact is driving Trump’s political opponents to attack him as “deeply dangerous,” with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) saying his panel will investigate the threats Coats laid out, and faulting Trump for not accepting their assessment.