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Excerpt: "U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter."

Officials in CIA headquarters. (photo: Reuters)
Officials in CIA headquarters. (photo: Reuters)


ALSO SEE: White House Plans to Have
Trump Ally Review Intelligence Agencies

Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns

By Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee, The Wall Street Journal

16 February 17

 

Decision to withhold information underscores deep mistrust between intelligence community and president

.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.

The officials’ decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team’s contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him.

In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.

A White House official said: “There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening.”

A spokesman for the Office of Director of National Intelligence said: “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.”

Intelligence officials have in the past not told a president or members of Congress about the ins and outs of how they ply their trade. At times, they have decided that secrecy is essential for protecting a source, and that all a president needs to know is what that source revealed and what the intelligence community thinks is important about it.

But in these previous cases in which information was withheld, the decision wasn’t motivated by a concern about a president’s trustworthiness or discretion, the current and former officials said.

It wasn’t clear Wednesday how many times officials have held back information from Mr. Trump.

The officials emphasized that they know of no instance in which crucial information about security threats or potential plotting has been omitted. Still, the misgivings that have emerged among intelligence officials point to the fissures spreading between the White House and the U.S. spy agencies.

Mr. Trump, a Republican, asked Monday night for the resignation of Mike Flynn, his national security adviser, after the White House said the president lost trust in him, in part, because he misstated the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump castigated the intelligence agencies and the news media, blaming them for Mr. Flynn’s downfall.

“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

Mr. Trump doesn’t immerse himself in intelligence information, and it isn’t clear that he has expressed a desire to know sources and methods. The intelligence agencies have been told to dramatically pare down the president’s daily intelligence briefing, both the number of topics and how much information is described under each topic, an official said. Compared with his immediate predecessors, Mr. Trump so far has chosen to rely less on the daily briefing than they did.

The current and former officials said the decision to avoid revealing sources and methods with Mr. Trump stems in large part from the president’s repeated expressions of admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his call during the presidential campaign for Russia to continue hacking the emails of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia stole and leaked emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to undermine the election process and try to boost Mr. Trump’s chances of winning, an allegation denied by Russian officials.

Several of Mr. Trump’s current and former advisers are under investigation for the nature of their ties to Moscow, according to people familiar with the matter. After Mr. Flynn’s dismissal, lawmakers have called on the government to release the transcripts of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and to disclose whether Mr. Trump was aware of or directed Mr. Flynn’s conversations.

Two senior intelligence officials denied Wednesday that Mr. Flynn had engaged in extensive contacts with Russian officials. One of the officials said none of the other advisers had extensive contacts with Russian officials or engaged in any pattern of contacts.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he has heard concerns from officials about sharing especially sensitive information with Mr. Trump.

“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,” Mr. Schiff said, without confirming any specific incidents. “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.”

“I’m sure there are people in the community who feel they don’t know where he’s coming from on Russia,” Mr. Schiff said.

Tensions between the spy agencies and Mr. Trump were pronounced even before he took office, after he publicly accused the Central Intelligence Agency and others of leaking information about alleged Russian hacking operations to undermine the legitimacy of his election win. In a meandering speech in front of a revered CIA memorial the day after his inauguration, Mr. Trump boasted about the size of his inaugural crowd and accused the media of inventing a conflict between him and the agencies.

In a news conference on Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Trump again lashed out at the media and intelligence officials, whom he accused of “criminal” leaks about Mr. Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador last December.

Mr. Trump didn’t explain Wednesday why he asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation. Instead, he suggested the leaks and the media were to blame for his ouster.

“General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.”

“I think in addition to that from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s criminal action. It’s a criminal act and it’s been going on for a long time before me but now it’s really going on.”

Reviving his line of criticism against intelligence officials during the transition, Mr. Trump said the “illegally leaked” information was from people with political motivations. “People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Trump said.

A person close to Mr. Trump said he was reluctant to let go of Mr. Flynn because Mr. Flynn had vigorously supported him at a stage of his presidential campaign when few people did. Mr. Trump also felt Mr. Flynn did nothing wrong in his conversations with the U.S. ambassador to Russia and had good intentions.

“They both continue to support each other,” this person said.

For intelligence veterans, who had hoped that Mr. Trump’s feud with the agencies might have subsided, Wednesday’s comments renewed and deepened concerns.

“This is not about who won the election. This is about concerns about institutional integrity,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior intelligence official.

“It’s probably unprecedented to have this difficult a relationship between a president and the intelligence agencies,” Mr. Lowenthal said. “I can’t recall ever seeing this level of friction. And it’s just not good for the country.”

Several congressional probes are examining Russia’s alleged meddling in the election. On Wednesday, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested a Justice Department briefing and documents related to Mr. Flynn’s resignation, including details of his communications with Russian officials.

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-19 # mashiguo 2017-02-16 10:09
The deep state baldly asserts itself with a resounding FU to the rest of the country.

Everyone who believs the CIA is a more trustworthy custodian of our 'democracy' than Trump please raise your hands.

Where will it end?
The CIA is apparently the new Praetorian Guard.

Won't be long before people are looking back as wistfully at Trump as they are now reminiscing about W.
 
 
-5 # ericlipps 2017-02-16 23:01
[quote name="mashiguo" ]The deep state baldly asserts itself with a resounding FU to the rest of the country.

Everyone who believs the CIA is a more trustworthy custodian of our 'democracy' than Trump please raise your hands.
Not that it's much of a choice, but consider my hand raised.
 
 
+2 # mashiguo 2017-02-17 09:57
Quoting ericlipps:
[quote name="mashiguo"]The deep state baldly asserts itself with a resounding FU to the rest of the country.

Everyone who believs the CIA is a more trustworthy custodian of our 'democracy' than Trump please raise your hands.
Not that it's much of a choice, but consider my hand raised.


This doesn't surprise me given your past statements, but I must say it shows an astounding lack of knowledge of history.

Trump was elected. He at least won the republican nomination fair and square.
The general election is another story, but given our anti-democratic system he won that.
Trump is answerable.
Trump is subject to checks and balances.
Trump can be stalled, stymied and stopped at any and every point.

Who elected the CIA?
Who are they?
What checks and balances are there on them?

There is no comparison between the two.
The CIA operates under a black budget: no one knows how much they have and what they spend it on.
No one knows what they do.
They have an exceedingly poor record record of making choices and implementing policy.

And you prefer them?
That would be delusional.
No good can ever come of it.
Even if they succeed in trashing the object of your irrational hatred, what is the precedent for the future?
Any president anyone hates can be destroyed by them with lies?

America is over.
 
 
-13 # librarian1984 2017-02-16 10:26
If the intelligence communities withhold information from POTUS, then how will the president make important decisions?

Since when do the agencies decide what POTUS can know? Anyone doing so should be fired immediately.

People may hate Trump, but a power grab and usurpation of authority by intelligence agencies is NOT the proper, legal or smart way to fight him.

This is treasonous and dangerous.

"Officials know of no instance in which crucial information ... has been omitted."

That is NOT their call to make, and how would one know? This is a meaningless cya statement.

Now Trump wants to bring in an outsider to 'review' the entire intel community. Even the NSA? Office of the DNI? This escalation has the potential for real crisis but, given the tatters of the GOP, the DP, the msm and the Clinton and Bush families left in his wake, I'd say the odds might just be with Trump.

Will Democrats continue to support the spooks if they assassinate the president?

"Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested a .. briefing and documents". Are they confident they will get complete or accurate information? We know intel leaders have lied, under oath, to Congress. Now we hear they withhold information from the president. That is okay?

This is problematic. This is treasonous. Liberals should NOT defend this.

"It's just not good for the country". Well it's sure not good for the CIA et al. That is not necessarily the same thing.
 
 
+3 # HowardMH 2017-02-16 11:22
Trump make an important decision - not a chance.

You damn right the Washington Post and NY Times caused Flynn’s resignation. Trump knew about it almost THREE WEEKS before it hit the press and did NOTHING! Way to go CIA, NSA, and every other security organization for giving the Orange Headed idiot ample time to do his job, BEFORE you supplied the info to the press.

Pence should be in the Oval Office with his own 2x2 and doing what is necessary to get the idiots attention, before reading him the riot act about keeping Pence in the loop, instead of setting him up to look like the idiot he looked line on TV.

We are finally starting to learn some of the facts about Trump and Putin. It was disclosed by Trump’s son back in 2007 or 8 that much of their income was coming from investments in Russia. Without that income the Trump Organization would be in serious financial trouble. Wait until someone in the media (because the Democrats in congress sure haven’t got the backbone or brains to do it) is able to get to the bottom of that issue and Trump will be toast.
 
 
-9 # Robbee 2017-02-16 12:41
Quoting librarian1984:
Will Democrats continue to support the spooks if they assassinate the president?

This is problematic. This is treasonous. Liberals should NOT defend this.

- robbee read this story jut to see how lib would cover it -

lib wants to dismantle the intelligence community - drown it in a bathtub? - which cannot happen - we dare not be the only great power flying blind - sorry! not gonna happen!

lib gets frantic! - "Will Democrats continue to support the spooks if they assassinate the president? This is problematic. This is treasonous. Liberals should NOT defend this."

robbee says "what goes around comes around" - hosea says "they sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind"

1) rump told putin to publish hacks to win for rump
2) rump buries the media in blizzards of fake news, then
3) cries foul when media exposes a pence lie

now media is the bad guy for telling the truth?

lib wants us to worry that intelligence will assassinate rump? - lib, if you want to worry about something that might really happen? - then worry about rump starting a war to cover his tracks, thanks!

treason is aiding foreign enemies - it's not exposing a politician's lies! - just ask manning and snowden, okay?

robbee is a lefty - as robbee always says "fuck rump if he can't take a joke!"

robbee sees rump's communications with putin as treasonous! - and demands an investigation by an independent prosecutor with power to bring criminal charges!
 
 
+1 # harleysch 2017-02-17 17:10
Librarian -- Sorry to see the sad state of affairs at RSN when a reasonable post such as yours is met with thumbs down and inane responses.
 
 
+4 # thekidde 2017-02-16 13:13
It's a true quandary. Had Hitler been denied critical information, even prior to 1939, the Holocaust may have been ameliorated or even prevented. Individuals such as Hitler and Trump (yes they share many insidious traits)must be closely watched and closely controlled by people with actual integrity and a dedication to the principles the Founders laid down for government. The fool in the White House and the ignorance that put him there must not be allowed to destroy the Republic.
 
 
+6 # harleysch 2017-02-16 14:26
"This is about concerns about institutional integrity," says a former senior intelligence official.

I think the "institutional integrity" of the CIA was lost long before Trump challenged it. From the work of the Church Committee to George Tenet's "slam dunk" on Iraq's wmd, the agency's institutional integrity has been virtually non-existent.
 
 
-4 # Robbee 2017-02-16 16:56
Quoting harleysch:
"This is about concerns about institutional integrity," says a former senior intelligence official.

I think the "institutional integrity" of the CIA was lost long before Trump challenged it. From the work of the Church Committee to George Tenet's "slam dunk" on Iraq's wmd, the agency's institutional integrity has been virtually non-existent.

- that's exactly why robbee always says "fuck rump if he can't take a joke!"
 
 
+4 # Femihumanist 2017-02-16 15:12
This precedent would be really scary. There's no way avoiding its continuity if it's tried once and succeeds.

We have impeachment and real power to get rid of him. Another first, if we succeed, but an important precedent.

Is Pence going to be any better? Who knows. What are the odds he can be worse? He has to be smarter. Most eleven year-olds I know are smarter.
 
 
-4 # Robbee 2017-02-16 17:22
Quoting Femihumanist:
We have impeachment and real power to get rid of him.

Is Pence going to be any better? Who knows. What are the odds he can be worse? He has to be smarter. Most eleven year-olds I know are smarter.

- impeachment? - any reaction to rump that does not weigh pence? - how bad could pence be? - isn't pence the lesser of 2 evils? - lets give pence a free pass?

- the real issue is would anyone rather have pence than rump?

not me! - i'd rather have crazy rump! than purposeful pence! rump + tpp = pence!

by the way this cluster-efup is not my fault! - robbee voted bernie! - then hill!

robbee always weighed the alternative! go figure!

this time why don't we try to hold 2 thoughts in our minds at the same time, okay?
 
 
-1 # DongiC 2017-02-16 20:52
The CIA and the NSA know how to harbor their secrets, their contacts, their techniques. Their basic approach is to stay with what works and what works well, keep close to your vest. Of course, these special methods will not be shared with any one in the oval office. Questions will be answered and, maybe, something on work habits but, otherwise, nothing.
 
 
-1 # Robbee 2017-02-16 21:25
check out CBC leak! - bit.ly/2kD6FhQ
 
 
+1 # suziemama 2017-02-16 22:21
I am leery of the intelligence agencies, and disagree with many of their actions, but I do believe that most of agency employees are indeed intelligent. It's obvious that Donald Trump is intellectually deficient, mentally unstable, and ethically challenged. Whether it be federal scientists, regulators, spies, or justice officials, Trump has put government employees in the position of choosing between defending the country or supporting a wacko president.
 
 
-2 # Robbee 2017-02-17 10:29
Quoting suziemama:
It's obvious that Donald Trump is intellectually deficient, mentally unstable, and ethically challenged.

- yesterday rump gave an unhinged presser where he denied knowing that his associates communicated with russia - said nothing about himself asking russia to release hacks - said he inherited a mess, now his regime is a well-oiled machine - launched into a campaign-era indictment of obama deals - touted his electoral college win, the "most dominant" since raygun (typical lie - somebody told him!) - accused the press of fake news and picking on him

watch the whole thing on cspan - he did not look like a strongman but someone pleading for understanding - begging will not play well to his base and will be dissected forever

rump picked the most corruptible and personally-conf licted cabinet in history - flynn lying to pence, who in turn accidentally lied to the american public redirected the media to rump's "from russia with love" campaign - add to that spyship, anti-worker labor nominee who got no support, fake muslim ban, so-called judges, flubs with every foreign leader, protest marches, walkouts and merchandise line cancellations - make schumer look righteous and put the goresuck nomination at risk

when he refused to take a salary as prez america got a bad deal - the worst ever - instead rump should pay his own legal bills

on balance it has been a dysfunctional first 4 weeks as prez! - rump is NOT MY PRESIDENT!
 

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