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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 CoatsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' 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 MeeksOcasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud New York Democrat on Ocasio-Cortez, other progressives: 'Primaries go two ways' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question 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 ClayThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Pressley: Democrats don't need 'any more black faces that don't want to be a black voice' Ocasio-Cortez's racism charge shows Pelosi at risk of being devoured by the revolution 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 seek to move past rifts with minimum wage bill Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair calls Trump comments about progressive congresswomen 'totally unacceptable' Trump's tweets unify a fractured Democratic Party 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