Members of the U.S. intelligence community, concerned about the potential for leaks to the media or worse, to overseas’ governments, have reportedly been keeping sensitive information from reaching President Donald Trump’s ears.
What type of data?
The Wall Street Journal, citing former and current intel officials, said Trump is specifically being kept in the dark about the spy agencies’ means of collecting information.
Some in intelligence are denying the information blackout.
“Any suggestion that the U.S. intelligence community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true,” said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in a statement picked up by Fox News.
Still, Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, who serves as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said intelligence agencies have valid concerns with the Trump administration and that holding back on information may be justifiable. And in a brief statement, he seemed to suggest the reports of withholding were true.
“I’ve talked with people in the intelligence community that do have concerns about the White House, about the president, and I think those concerns take a number of forms,” the California congressman said, to the Wall Street Journal. “What the intelligence community considers their most sacred obligation is to protect the very best intelligence and to protect the people that are producing it.”
The shield between intel and the White House went up after Michael Flynn resigned from his national security adviser post, amid a flurry of conjecture he was the target of a political takedown from holdovers of Barack Obama’s administration in the nation’s top intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported U.S. intel agents have been suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia for some time, and are walking slow on the sharing of information with the White House on an overabundance of caution.
Trump himself is aware of the mistrust from the spy agencies, and took to Twitter earlier this week to vent at the so-called leak of information to the press regarding Flynn’s conversations with Russia. His view? While Flynn’s failure to report his discussions with Russia to the White House was an egregious lapse of judgment, the larger story is that someone in U.S. intelligence had recorded those telephone conversations – the ones between Flynn and Russia’s ambassador – and then released that information to the press.
“The real scandal here,” Trump tweeted, “is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American.”
The White House, nonetheless, released a statement responding directly to the supposed silent treatment from the intelligence community.
“There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening,” an unnamed White House official told the Wall Street Journal.