Trump - War on the Intelligence Community
The CIA said it had "high confidence" that Russia sought to help Trump win. US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia interfered in the final stretch of the presidential campaign to help Trump win the presidency, and not simply meddle in the US electoral process. Senatro John McCain said “Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”
Trump feuded with the U.S. intelligence community since it concluded that Russian meddled in the U.S. election in an effort to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. He appeared concerned that the finding would call into question the legitimacy of his unexpected victory over the former secretary of state.
President-elect Donald Trump, in a statement released 29 December 2016, called on the country to "move on", adding that he would meet with members of the intelligence community to discuss the issue. "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things," the statement read. "Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."
Donald Trump launched new attacks 15 February 2017 against media reports of alleged links between him and Russia, blaming the country's intelligence community for what he said were "illegal" leaks to news outlets. "The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by 'intelligence' like candy. Very un-American!" Trump said. In a string of Twitter comments, Trump suggested news articles detailing links between him, his campaign aides and ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian officials were aimed at undermining his victory in the November election.
"This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign.... The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great! ... Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia."
On 16 February 2017 the administration asked the founder of a New York-based private equity firm to lead a review of the intelligence community as Trump vowed to crack down on what he describes as "illegal leaks" of classified information. Stephen Feinberg of Cerberus Capital Management had been asked to head the review of the various intelligence agencies and make recommendations on improvements to efficiency and coordination between the various intelligence agencies.
According to Rolling Stone, in a 2007 speech to shareholders, Feinberg said, “If anyone at Cerberus has his picture in the paper and a picture of his apartment, we will do more than fire that person. We will kill him. The jail sentence will be worth it.” Feinberg served as a Trump adviser during the presidential election. Feinberg has no intelligence experience whatsoever. Dan Coats, Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, was reportedly angered that the administration was sidelining him by giving the intelligence review assignment to Feinberg.
Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey 09 May 2017, clouding the bureau’s investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia. The following day, Trump met with Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat at the White House, marking the highest level, face-to-face contact with Russia of the American leader’s presidency. The meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signalled that the two countries have improved ties. One of the reporters asked whether today's talks will be overshadowed by the dismissal of the FBI director. "He's fired?! Are you kidding me?" Lavrov reacted sarcastically.
The FBI and three congressional committees had been investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible Trump connections. As head of the FBI, Comey had been leading the complex counterintelligence investigation that had dogged Trump since Inauguration Day. In remarks 31 October 2016, Trump, who had previously criticized Comey for not bringing charges against Clinton, praised Comey's "guts" for renewing an investigation into Clinton.
Comey’s firing was the latest and most significant White House-driven distraction from the Russia investigations. Trump has ridiculed the probes, calling them a “hoax,” and he has denied that his campaign was involved in Russia’s election meddling. In his brief letter to Comey, Trump thanked him for telling him three times “that I am not under investigation.” Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, termed “bizarre” Trump’s reference in the termination letter to Comey noting the FBI director had assured the president repeatedly he was not under investigation.
The decision to fire Comey, “raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement. Schiff is the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, which is also investigating. It is not clear why Trump took the action concerning events that occurred months before he won last November’s presidential election. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked “Why now? .. Are people going to suspect coverup? Absolutely.”
On 11 May 2017 Trump directly contradicted his own spokespeople, telling NBC News that he would have fired Comey "regardless" of what the Justice Department said. Trump added that he was considering "this Russia thing" when he ousted the FBI director. " I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story…."
In a Twitter post, the president-elected compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Central Intelligence Director John Brennan described the comparison to the Nazi's as "repugnant" and said Trump's criticism of the intelligence community's credibility was unwarranted. "Tell the families of those 117 CIA officers who are forever memorialized on our wall of honor that their loved ones who gave their lives were akin to Nazi's," Brennan said.
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