Trump’s Intelligence Chiefs Contradicted Him on Live TV. Naturally He’s Blaming the Media.

“A false narrative is so bad for our Country,” he tweeted.

CIA Director Gina Haspel speaks with director of national intelligence Dan Coats during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.Jose Luis Magana/AP

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Days after Donald Trump called the intelligence community “extremely passive and naive” for publicly contradicting his views on Iran, the president decided to blame the media instead. In a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, Trump said the media “distorted” and “mischaracterized” the intelligence chiefs’ Senate testimony about global threats. Reporters quickly seized on the hearing as evidence of Trump’s disagreements with his intelligence team.

Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate intelligence committee convened the heads of the major intelligence agencies to deliver their annual global threat assessment, which contained several statements at odds with Trump’s public positions. The 42-page report, for example, refers to climate change as a threat to “infrastructure, health, and water and food security.” Trump has called global warming a Chinese hoax, and has even dismissed a report produced by his own administration that warned of grave economic consequences if the United States did not curb its carbon dioxide emissions. “I don’t believe it,” Trump had said.

Other elements of the report flatly dispute Trump’s view of North Korea. After returning from his summit with dictator Kim Jong-un in June, Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” The report came to the opposite conclusion, noting, “North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and the [intelligence community] continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities.” During the hearing, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pressed Gina Haspel, the CIA director, on whether North Korea has shown any signs of changing its behavior. Haspel affirmed the intelligence community’s assessment. “I don’t think I can point to any specific changes over the past couple of years,” she said.

Twenty-four hours ago, Trump’s Twitter feed told a much different story about the hearing. Rather than question the media’s reporting, he challenged the intelligence community directly.

Trump reportedly watched the hearing live from the White House and was “furious” when early news coverage showed his views being contradicted by his advisers, according to CNN. Now it appears after meeting with his intelligence chiefs, Trump is singing a different tune. “We are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc.,” he said, adding, “[a] false narrative is so bad for our Country.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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