National Security

Trump says Intel chiefs told him media mischaracterized comments

President Trump on Thursday said media coverage was to blame for an apparent rift between him and intelligence community leaders following their congressional testimony this week.

The president tweeted that he met with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel and national security adviser John Bolton in the Oval Office, and that the group is “very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc.”

“Just concluded a great meeting with my Intel team in the Oval Office who told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate Hearing was mischaracterized by the media,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

{mosads}”A false narrative is so bad for our Country,” he added. “I value our intelligence community. Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”

The president relayed a similar version of events to reporters during a meeting with the Chinese vice premier in the Oval Office

“They said they were totally misquoted and it was taken out of context,” Trump said when asked if he had spoken with the intelligence leaders about their testimony.

He suggested reporters call the intelligence leaders to clarify their comments.

The CIA declined to comment on coverage of Haspel’s testimony or whether she told Trump that the media mischaracterized her remarks.

The director of national intelligence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s projection of unity came hours after he appeared to acknowledge that he and the intelligence leaders were out of step after Haspel and Coats testified that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, Iran is complying with the Obama-era nuclear deal and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) still poses a grave threat.

“I disagree with certain things that they said,” Trump said earlier Thursday at an executive order signing.

“I think I’m right,” he added. “Time will prove me right, probably.”

Trump rejected their findings in a string of tweets on Wednesday, writing that the intelligence community was “passive and naive” and they should “go back to school!”

Thursday’s back-and-forth underscores what has been a tense relationship between the president and the leaders of the intelligence community. He has previously cast doubt on the conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

— Updated 5:20 p.m.

Tags Dan Coats Donald Trump intelligence community Trump tweets

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