Trump stages photo-op so he can pretend intel leaders agree with him
Trump spent 24 hours attacking America’s intelligence leaders for contradicting him — and then tried to claim they’re all on the same page after all.
For more than 24 hours, Trump unleashed a series of unhinged attacks against his top intelligence officers after they repeatedly contradicted him during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
Yet in a sudden reversal on Thursday afternoon, he called in his intel leaders for a photo-op and tweeted out a statement claiming they now agreed with him.
“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 – and we are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc.,” he tweeted. “Their testimony was distorted press.”
Then he insisted that a full reading of their testimony, which aired live on C-SPAN, would show they did not disagree with him.
“I would suggest you read the COMPLETE testimony from Tuesday,” he continued on Twitter. “A false narrative is so bad for our Country. I value our intelligence community. Happily, we had a very good meeting, and we are all on the same page!”
The latest chapter in this three-day saga is perhaps the most confusing, with Trump making conflicting statements hours apart and once again blaming the media in an attempt to deflect the humiliating reality.
On Tuesday morning, Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, and Gina Haspel, director of the CIA, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the biggest threats facing the U.S. While under oath, the two repeatedly contradicted statements Trump has made about major global issues, including North Korea (yes, they are still working on missiles that can reach the United States), Iran (yes, they are in compliance with the multi-party nuclear agreement), ISIS (no, they are not defeated) and Russia (yes, they attacked our democracy in 2016 and may do so again in 2020).
On Wednesday morning, Trump attacked his top intelligence officers, calling them”extremely passive and naive,” and “wrong,” and saying they need to “go back to school.” Trump’s attacks on the American intelligence community were so outrageous that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Coats asking intel leader to stage an intervention with Trump and teach him the basic facts about these issues.
On Thursday afternoon, Trump resumed his attacks on Coats and Haspel to reporters. When asked if he has confidence in the two, Trump said, “No, I disagree with them on certain things they said.” He added, “Time will prove me right, probably.”
Hours after his latest attack on them, he sent out a series of tweets claiming the media got it wrong and his intel team does agree with him. He included a photo of himself with them in the Oval Office.
It is difficult to see how the media could mischaracterize the testimony, since the entire hearing aired on C-SPAN. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) had a pointed response to Trump’s sudden turnaround, tweeting at Trump that Coats’ testimony “both in writing and in person, shows that you are lying.”
His testimony, both in writing and in person, shows that you are lying. https://t.co/7ym2Wajek5
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 31, 2019
Either Coats and Haspel were lying under oath to Congress, or Trump — a man who has told more than 8,150 lies since entering the White House — is lying.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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