Spokesman Denies Donald Trump Is Mulling Plans to Overhaul Top US Intelligence Agencies
"There is no truth to this idea of restructuring" intel community: Sean Spicer
ByJONATHAN KARL and MORGAN WINSOR
January 5, 2017, 5:44 PM
• 3 min read
-- Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer today flatly denied that President-elect Donald Trump was considering reported plans to reform the nation's top intelligence agencies.
The denial comes after a senior Trump transition official, speaking to ABC News earlier today, confirmed a Wednesday night Wall Street Journal report on the plans, saying such reforms were under consideration by Trump and his team.
But Spicer called that report "100 percent false" in a telephone call with reporters about the presidential transition today.
"These reports are false. All transition activities are for information gathering purposes, and all discussions are tentative," Spicer said, pushing back on the notion that the president-elect was considering an overhaul of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
He added, "I want to reiterate, there is no truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure. It is 100 percent false.”
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the planning, reported that Trump was working with top advisers on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the country's intelligence community.
Trump and his advisers were also working on a plan to revamp the Central Intelligence Agency, including staff cutbacks at its headquarters in Virginia and putting more people out in the field, the newspaper said.
People familiar with the planning told The Wall Street Journal that the potential reforms were driven by Trump's belief that the agencies have become politicized and bloated.
The Journal story comes amid Trump's harsh criticism of U.S. intelligence agencies. In a Twitter post Wednesday, for instance, the real estate developer turned president-elect appeared to side with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, referring to the controversial activist's claim that Russia did not provide his site with thousands of emails it published that were stolen from Democratic National Committee officials and other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta.
Trump tweeted, "Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' - why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!"
ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.