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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 CoatsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Hillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy 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 MeeksLobbying World Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns Congress should look into its own taxes and travel, not just Trump's 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 ClayHarris: Biden 'would be a great running mate' Virginia teen's painting of migrant children to hang in US Capitol Divided Dems look to regroup 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 JayapalPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable' 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