President Donald Trump on Thursday, after attacking his top intelligence officials the day before for contradicting his claims of foreign policy success with Iran, North Korea and ISIS, contended the news media had created a 'distorted" and "false narrative" when reporting on their public testimony and written assessment.
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Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he had met with CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to express concern over their testimony to Congress on Tuesday.
"They said they that were totally misquoted and they were totally – it was taken out of context. So what I’d do is I’d suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news," Trump said.
The president made the remarkable claim despite the fact that the remarks and assessments Haspel, Coats and the other intelligence officials made were either carried live by tv networks or extensively replayed and quoted widely in newspapers and in online news accounts.
Earlier Thursday, at another photo-op, when asked by reporters if he has confidence in his intelligence chiefs, Trump said: "I think I'm right but time will prove that. Time will prove me right, probably."
“I think we’re doing so well on a foreign policy basis," he added.
He had tweeted Wednesday that the intelligence officials were “extremely passive and naïve" Trump also tweeted “perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
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
In addition to his Oval Office remarks Thursday, Trump tweeted that he and his intelligence team are on the same page.
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. Their testimony was distorted press.... pic.twitter.com/Zl5aqBmpjF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2019
....I would suggest you read the COMPLETE testimony from Tuesday. 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2019
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted President Trump for his “extraordinarily inappropriate” criticism of testimony from the nation's intel chiefs before Congress and called on them to essentially stage an intervention with the president.
Schumer said the president’s attacks “will undermine the public confidence in the U.S. government’s efforts to protect our national security and preserve U.S. power and influence abroad,” in a letter he wrote to Director of National intelligence Dan Coats.
Schumer called for Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray and the CIA's Haspel to insist on a meeting with Trump to “educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments.”
“He is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interest in the process. You must find a way to make that clear to him,” Schumer wrote in the letter.
In a press conference with reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s dismissal of intelligence chiefs’ “courageous” Senate testimony on global threats was “stunning.”
Trump “doesn’t have the attention span or desire to hear what the intelligence community is telling him,” Pelosi said.
Even some Republicans took issue with Trump’s criticisms.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate Majority Whip, told reporters on Wednesday that the intelligence community should be trusted.
"I don't know how many times you can say this, but I prefer the President would stay off Twitter -- particularly with regard to these important national security issues where you've got people who are experts and have the background and are professionals," Thune said. "I think in those cases when it comes to their judgment, take into consideration what they're saying...I think we need to trust their judgment."
On Thursday, the president seemingly responded to Schumer in a tweet.
“Schumer and the Democrats are big fans of being weak and passive with Iran. They have no clue as to the danger they would be inflicting on our Country. Iran is in financial chaos now because of the sanctions and Iran Deal termination. Dems put us in a bad place - but now good!”
Schumer and the Democrats are big fans of being weak and passive with Iran. They have no clue as to the danger they would be inflicting on our Country. Iran is in financial chaos now because of the sanctions and Iran Deal termination. Dems put us in a bad place - but now good!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2019