Trump slams former intelligence officials to explain 'reluctance to embrace' agencies

President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE on Tuesday defended his "reluctance to embrace" United States intelligence agencies as he continues to question the latest reports that Russia is meddling in the 2020 election.

Trump, in a pair of tweets, said it is "not true" that he trusts Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails Overnight Hillicon Valley — Ex-US intel operatives pay to settle hacking charges General promises 'surge' to fight ransomware attacks MORE more than American intelligence officials, but offered an explanation for why that might be acceptable, slamming a number of former intelligence officials.

"[I]f the first people you met from so called American Intelligence were Dirty Cops who have now proven to be sleazebags at the highest level like James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE, proven liar James ClapperJames Robert ClapperAfghanistan disaster puts intelligence under scrutiny Domestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? MORE, & perhaps the lowest of them all, Wacko John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanStill in the game: Will Durham's report throw a slow curveball at key political players? UFOs are an intriguing science problem; Congress must act accordingly How transparency on UFOs can unite a deeply divided nation MORE who headed the CIA, you could perhaps understand my reluctance to embrace!" Trump tweeted.

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Trump has faced criticism throughout his first term for casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community, specifically its findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The president drew intense bipartisan backlash for questioning those findings during a 2018 joint press conference with Putin.

It’s no surprise that @realDonaldTrump shares Putin’s deep disdain for Americans who served their country & countered Russian efforts to undermine U.S. national security," Brennan responded on Twitter. "Trump continues to do neither."

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The president's distrust of the intelligence community has been put back in the spotlight after the top U.S. counterintelligence official announced last week a series of foreign threats facing the 2020 presidential election, including that Russia is using a range of measures to "primarily denigrate" former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE in his campaign for the White House.

The report also found that China prefers that Trump fail in his reelection bid and that Iran is seeking to sow chaos.

Asked about the report over the weekend, Trump claimed Russia would prefer to see Biden in office, contradicting the intelligence report.

When a reporter asked Monday if he'd brought up election meddling directly with Putin, Trump again dodged. 

"You know what I'm telling you? I'll tell you who's meddling in our elections. The Democrats are meddling by wanting and insisting on sending mail-in ballots where there's corruption all over the place," Trump said, repeating his inaccurate claims about mail voting.

Updated at 12:21 p.m.