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 John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' 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 CoatsOvernight Defense: Pentagon lists construction projects at risk from emergency declaration | Officials deny report on leaving 1,000 troops in Syria | Spy budget request nears B Trump administration requests nearly B for spy budget Dems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump 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 LucasHillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction Overnight Energy: Solar installations dropped in 2018 | UN report says rising Arctic temperatures 'locked in' | Fiat Chrysler to recall 850K vehicles House technology committee leaders ask to postpone 5G spectrum auction 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 MeeksTime for a change for America's new middle class Bernie 2020 has Democrats petrified Dem rep: Sanders should register as a Democrat 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 ClayDems seek to stifle primary challenges to incumbents Cohen details methods to get Trump ranked higher on Forbes list Live coverage: Cohen clashes with GOP over Trump allegations 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 JayapalJudiciary Dem: House investigations must 'start at the beginning' before discussing impeachment Dem support grows for allowing public funds to pay for abortions On The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks 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