What Pushed Donald Trump to View US Intelligence Community With Suspicion During His Tenure
Briefing Donald Trump presented the US Intelligence Community (IC) with greater challenges than it had faced since the times of President Richard Nixon 48 years before, claims a new book, Getting To Know The President. What's behind the IC's complaints about Trump and were the president's suspicious about US spooks justified?
The newly-released book written by ex-CIA officer John Helgerson. Getting To Know The President, charts different presidents' interactions with intelligence agencies from 1952 when President Harry Truman began the briefing process.
However, Trump was "unique among the dozen" commanders-in-chief: he doubted the competence of intelligence professionals, publicly criticised the outgoing directors of national intelligence and the CIA, and disparaged the substantive work and integrity of the intelligence agencies, according
to the CIA publication. "From the outset, it was clear that the IC was in for a difficult time," the book reads.
'Trump's Suspicions Were Justified'
While CIA veteran John Helgerson complains that Trump was "far and away the most difficult" new president to brief, the former president had good reasons for doubting the IC's competence and intentions, argues Dr. Nicholas Waddy, political analyst and associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred.
"Trump was justified in viewing the intelligence community with a jaundiced eye, since many presidents have been frustrated by the biased and incomplete analyses our intelligence 'professionals' deliver, and no president has ever been more publicly and consistently undermined by intelligence officials than Donald Trump," Waddy believes.
He refers, in particular, to the now-debunked "Trump-Russia collusion" story, arguing that some former intelligence officials "were among the most strident and persuasive in perpetuating the Trump-Russia hoax."
Therefore, ex-CIA Director John Brennan had long been an active propagator of the idea that Trump "colluded" with Moscow. In 2017 the former CIA chief claimed
that he had been aware of contact between Russians and "US persons in the Trump campaign." In 2018, Brennan wrote
in his New York Times op-ed that "Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash." Nevertheless, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation found no links between Trump, his associates and Russia.
2 October 2019, 18:02 GMT
Meanwhile, an investigation by Inspector General of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Michael Horowitz, which was released in December 2019, exposed procedural violations and flaws in the FBI's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
applications to spy on Trump's aides. On top of this, the agency's requests were largely based on an uncorroborated "dirty dossier" compiled by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele at the request of Fusion GPS, a firm hired by the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign through Perkins Coie law firm.
Some FBI agents were also found to be openly biased against President Trump. Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who kicked off Operation Crossfire Hurricane into potential cooperation between the Trump campaign and Moscow, was caught sending messages disparaging
to his colleague Lisa Page.
His former boss, James Comey, is known for sending two agents, Joe Pientka and Peter Strzok, to interview then-National Security Advisor to Trump Michael Flynn in violation of the White House's rules and without an attorney present
. After Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI, his legal team argued that the agency deliberately set the general up. Ex-FBI Director Comey was also quick to leak memos detailing his confidential conversations with President Trump as soon as he was fired in May 2017.
5 October 2021, 16:30 GMT
John Durham Debunking FBI's Trump-Russia Probe
Apparent politicisation of the FBI's "Trump-Russia" probe prompted then-Attorney General William Barr to assign Connecticut US Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of Operation Crossfire Hurricane and the agency's handling of the case. In December 2020, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel in the Russia probe inquiry thus giving him special protection.
Since then, Durham has indicted former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for knowingly doctoring information about Trump's aide Carter Page to get a FISA extension, as well as ex-Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann and Chris Steele's former employee Igor Danchenko.
10 November 2021, 19:29 GMT
John Durham is revealing, day by day, "how extensively the 'professional' intelligence and law enforcement communities within the federal government cooperated in the perpetuation" of Trump-Russia hoax, according to Waddy.
"In their more honest moments, some of these officials even admitted that undermining the Trump Administration was their goal," the professor says. "They regarded Trump-hatred as a moral imperative and patriotic duty. Trump was right, therefore, to view the intelligence community with suspicion."
According to Waddy, it is hardly surprising that US defence officials also routinely misled Trump into believing the American troop count in Syria was a lot lower than it actually is.
"From the beginning, Washington insiders and our political, cultural, and economic elite have seen Donald Trump as an affront to its dignity and a threat to its dominance - rightly, in both cases!" he says. Their top priority was and is to undermine him and the populist movement he represents."
Waddy believes that the "deep state's" major goal was to "contain" Trump, to undermine him politically, and to discipline his instincts to think and act "outside the box."
"If [Trump] aspires to a second term, he will need to formulate a better approach to translating his conservative, nationalist, populist views into actual policy," the professor underscores. "Otherwise, Trump and the career bureaucrats will be at loggerheads for four more years, and nothing of consequence will change."
3 November 2021, 04:00 GMT
CIA Veteran's Book Timing
The damning book about the former president is released between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a period that is typically considered "politically dead," so it can "can have a greater impact now than it likely would at other times when it would be overshadowed," says Laura Merrifield Wilson, associate professor of political science at University of Indianapolis.
She emphasises that even out of office Trump still has pockets of support within the country and the Republican Party.
Anti-Trump publication was designed "to dissuade Trump from running for the presidency again in 2024, or to dissuade the American people from regarding him as a man fit for the presidency," deems Dr. Nicholas Waddy.