GOP lawmaker defends intel officials: ‘They are doing a pretty good job’

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Wednesday said the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies are “doing a pretty good job,” despite President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE’s attack on the officials earlier in the day calling them “naive and passive.”

“They're doing the best they can,” King, a longtime member of the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees, told Hill.TV. “The president has a different opinion, he expresses himself that way. But actually I think they are doing a pretty good job.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsFormer Trump officials including Fiona Hill helped prepare Biden for Putin summit: report Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid MORE and CIA Director Gina Haspel testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, when Coats said the intelligence community found that Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities.

Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the top U.S. intelligence officials are “extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!”

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!,” Trump added.

GOP Rep. Frank LucasFrank Dean LucasRepublicans divided on how hard to push vaccines On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights Republicans hammer HUD chief over sluggish rental aid MORE (Okla.) wouldn’t say whether he agreed with Trump’s remarks.

"I don't know that I'm particularly surprised – the president interprets everything through his own eyes, comes up with his own analysis. And that's consistent with his kind of analysis,” Lucas told Hill.TV.

Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksUS delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president's funeral Biden announces delegation to attend Haitian president's funeral Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms MORE (D-N.Y.) called the president’s attack “somewhat amusing” because Trump appointed most of the nation’s top intelligence leaders.

“He’s just going to make decisions on a whim without consultation and merit of their analysis,” Meeks, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Hill.TV. “For [Trump] not to take the advice and the consideration, either he's saying that he doesn't know who to appoint and/or he doesn't trust the individual that he has appointed.”

Missouri Democratic Rep. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayLobbying world Ex-Rep. Clay joins law and lobbying firm Pillsbury Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE called the attacks “another sign that the president doesn't pay attention to his experts in the intelligence field.”

“They are there for the president, so why wouldn't you listen to their advice. Why wouldn't you look at their assessment? Why wouldn't you read their report?” Clay said. “I think it's a tragedy and it's a threat to our national security.”

Washington Democratic Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Liberal House Democrats urge Schumer to stick to infrastructure ultimatum MORE called her party’s defense of intelligence agencies “funny” and “ironic.”

“Ironic maybe is the right word,” she said. “Democrats have to be the ones to stand up for intelligence agencies, but we're not talking about one intelligence agency – we're talking about multiple intelligence agencies and his continued undermining of our own intelligence,” Jayapal, co-chair of the House Progressives Caucus, said in an interview.

—Molly K. Hooper