U.S. intelligence chiefs will brief Congress a day after Trump compares them to Nazis
A few hours after President-elect Donald Trump repeated his accusation that the American intelligence community was using tactics from “Nazi Germany” to undermine his legitimacy, leaders of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence finalized meetings to brief both houses of Congress starting tomorrow on their findings about Russian interference in the presidential election.
The first briefing will be given to the Senate on Thursday at 3 p.m., as first reported by Politico and confirmed by VICE News. The meeting follows reports that the intelligence assessment includes a two-page summary of unverified allegations that are both salacious and politically damning. The unconfirmed details originate from an opposition research memo prepared by a former British intelligence official.
In sum, the memos say that the Russian government has blackmailing material on Trump, and that it had coordinated with members of his presidential campaign. Intelligence officials briefed both President Obama and Trump on their complete findings last week but it is still unclear if they specifically discussed the memos with Trump.
Following media reports about the summary yesterday, Trump labeled it “fake news” on Twitter and accused the intelligence agencies of allowing the summary to leak in order to get “one last shot at me.” Today during his first press conference as president-elect, Trump said that the leak was “something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.”
The intelligence agencies are continuing investigations into whether Trump’s presidential campaign coordinated with the Russian government, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday; a previous New York Times report from October indicated that FBI investigations on the subject went nowhere.
Trump’s transition team and his incoming press secretary Sean Spicer did not respond to questions about the upcoming briefings.
The feud between Trump and the country’s intelligence apparatus began after Obama ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full report on Russia’s interference in the election following Trump’s surprising victory. Media stories soon surfaced that intelligence officials believed Russia undermined Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in order to help Trump. The declassified report released last Friday concluded, without providing evidence, that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign” to affect the election.
In response, the president-elect has mocked and cast aspersions on the intelligence community, citing their incorrect assessments in the lead-up to the Iraq War and suggesting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be a more credible source. In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers suggested that without the confidence of the commander-in-chief, intelligence analysts could resign en masse.
Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. The Nazi comments may very well come up.
Cover: Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ìRussiaís intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts