He’s had enough.
For weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has publicly disagreed with the American intelligence community on Russian intrusion in the 2016 election, putting him at odds with many of the men and women he asks to keep the country safe.
Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump is planning staff cuts to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a reorganization of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). WSJ sources familiar with the plans say the two have become “bloated” and “politicized,” and are seen as continued threats to Trump’s legitimacy.
The CIA would see a decentralization, cutting staff at headquarters in Langley, Va., and sending some to outposts across the world. The ODNI, established by George W. Bush after 9/11, would see cuts to staff and funding. They help intelligence and law enforcement agencies work together in areas like counterterrorism and counterintelligence. It is not clear how this plan will intersect with Trump’s campaign promise to keep Americans safe.
Trump’s skepticism of and opposition to the American intelligence community is well-documented. Trump has refused daily intelligence briefings, saying he is “very smart.” He has openly mocked the idea of Russian meddling in the election, claiming that the theory is politically convenient and, in the DNC’s case, actually their fault.
The news comes at a time when the American intelligence community, most Democrats and even Republicans are worrying about Trump’s ease of comfort and familiarity with Julian Assange (of Wikileaks) and Vladimir Putin. Assange has denied that Wikileaks received the DNC emails from Russia or any state actor; data around the hacks analyzed by security firm SecureWorks suggests otherwise (but does not conclusively prove it).
On Friday, Trump will meet with intelligence officials to review the report commissioned by President Obama on Russian intervention in the 2016 election. Trump has called it an “Intelligence” briefing on so-called “Russian Hacking.”