Concerned as its agencies are with finding facts, President Trump has made sure to keep his distance from the United States intelligence community since taking office. Despite their wealth of expertise, he’s been reluctant to consider their security assessments as any more credible than what he happens to hear on Fox & Friends every morning. It isn’t hard to understand why, and it goes beyond Fox’s use of colorful graphics. The former presents the president with hard truths about dangers facing the nation that he is duty-bound to confront; the latter tells him that all is well — or, if it’s not, that it’s someone else’s fault — and that he’s doing a great job.
On Tuesday, the nation’s top intelligence officials briefed Congress on of North Korea, Iran and ISIS — all issues on which Trump has claimed varying degrees of victory. Their assessments didn’t exactly jibe with what the president would like to believe. Trump responded by attacking the intelligence community, tweeting on Wednesday that its officials are “extremely passive,” “naive” and “wrong,” particularly regarding their assessment of Iran. According to National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, whose warnings about Russian interference in America’s elections Trump has essentially ignored, Iran is still complying with the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, which Trump dramatically abandoned in May. “We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” said Coats.
“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” was the president’s ultimate response the following morning.
The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
….a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
The tweets calling out the intelligence community’s assessment of Iran followed a series of missives touting his administration’s progress combating ISIS and what he sees as a productive relationship with North Korea. “Caliphate will soon be destroyed,” Trump wrote of ISIS while claiming that there is a “decent chance of Denuclearization” in North Korea. Trump has previously said that the United States “accomplished the mission of defeating ISIS” and that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
Coats threw cold water on these delusions, as well. “We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” he said regarding North Korea. Trump-appointed CIA Director Gina Haspel agreed, noting that North Korea “is committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.” Coats acknowledged that the territory controlled by ISIS has been reduced dramatically, but that the terrorist group is still very much a threat, and is no way “defeated,” as Trump has claimed.
Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning came in the heart of Executive Time, each morning’s hours-long stretch wherein the president harvests energy from various Fox News programs. Lou Dobbs, one of the president’s favorite on-air sycophants, had some thoughts about Coats and his cronies in the intelligence community the previous night. Along with guest Fred Fleitz, the former chief of staff to National Security Adviser John Bolton, Dobbs was in a state of shock over Coats’ brazen attempt to dispense information that contradicted the president’s version of reality, which is based on nothing other than ego and political convenience.
“What in the hell is he thinking about?” fumed Dobbs. “I want to understand what he’s thinking, and why he should be tolerated.”
Fleitz then suggested the president should fire Coats. “I would let him go because of this,” he said. “Intelligence is to inform presidential policy. It’s not supposed to undermine it or second-guess presidential policy. This goes against why we set up a domestic intelligence service in the first place after World War II. This has simply evolved into a monster that is basically second-guessing the president all the time. The president needs to stop these worldwide threat briefings.”
#DrainTheSwamp – @FredFleitz: I would fire Dan Coats because of his assessment. This intelligence service has evolved into a monster that is second-guessing @POTUS all the time. @realDonaldTrump has to stop these unclassified worldwide threat briefings. #MAGA #TrumpTrain #Dobbs pic.twitter.com/NCzfAZZNlQ
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) January 30, 2019
The reason Coats and the rest of the intelligence community are second-guessing the president is because the president has absolutely no clue what he’s talking about. Unfortunately for America, Fox News will always be there to insist to him that he does.