Sensitive intelligence is being withheld from President Trump by US intelligence officials because they are reportedly concerned that the information could be compromised.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that in some cases officials opted not to show the president how it collected the information. The paper, citing both former and current officials, said the decision to hold back information underscores the mistrust between the Executive Branch and spies.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he has heard about these concerns in the past.
“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,” he said, according to the paper. “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 report points out that, historically, intelligence officials have held back information about how spies gather information, but in those cases, the information was not held back due to concerns over the president’s trustworthiness.
In January, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, took on Trump over his criticism of the intelligence service.
“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence denied the accusation late Wednesday that intelligence officials were withholding information from Trump.
“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.”
The Week magazine published an article Tuesday about how America’s spies “took down Michael Flynn,” Trump’s former national security adviser.
Damon Linker, a senior correspondent, wrote, “These leaks are an enormous problem. And in a less polarized context, they would be recognized immediately for what they clearly are: an effort to manipulate public opinion for the sake of achieving a desired political outcome. It’s weaponized spin.”
Flynn’s ouster was a blow to a White House struggling to find its footing in Trump’s first weeks in office.
The questions about Russia only deepened late Tuesday when The New York Times reported that U.S. agencies had intercepted phone calls last year between Russian intelligence officials and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team.
Current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Times anonymously said they found no evidence that the Trump campaign was working with the Russians on hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News on Wednesday that he had sent a letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general urging it to investigate the leaks that led to Flynn’s removal.
Flynn maintained for weeks that he had not discussed U.S. sanctions in his conversations with Russia’s ambassador. He later conceded that the topic may have come up.
Still, reports that there is a divide between Trump and his spies is concerning.
A White House official told The Journal that there is no information “that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening.”
The Week linked to a report in Bloomberg that said, “Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.”