President Donald Trump has previously declared that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, touted the defeat of ISIS, doubted the effects of climate change and railed against the Iran nuclear deal as “defective at its core,” CNN informs.
But the most senior intelligence officials in the Trump administration suggested Tuesday that many of the President’s sweeping assertions related to national security are inconsistent with their own assessments.
When pressed by Senate lawmakers during a hearing about the most urgent global threats facing the U.S., Trump’s intelligence chiefs, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA director Gina Haspel, appeared to contradict several claims made by the President to justify core tenets of his foreign policy.
The gap between Trump and his own intelligence agencies has been a persistent theme over the last two years, and Tuesday’s testimony illustrates just how stark the divide is between what the President says and the information he is being presented.
On December 19, the President announced that U.S. troops would withdraw from Syria. In making his announcement, Trump declared in a video released on Twitter: “We have won against ISIS. We’ve beaten them and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.”
However, despite repeated claims by the Trump administration, and the President himself, that ISIS has been defeated, U.S. intelligence assesses that the terror group “very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States,” Coats added.
On June 13, the President wrote on Twitter: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” and the message came as he concluded a historic first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
According to Coats, U.S. intelligence “currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”
At the hearing, Coats said the intelligence community’s “assessment is bolstered by observation of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization.” And his CIA counterpart, Haspel, said Pyongyang “is committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.”
When the President announced last May that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal he argued that remaining in the 2015 agreement would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said from the White House Diplomatic Room.
On this issue, Coats assessed that intelligence officials “do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device.”
More than eight months after the President announced the U.S. would withdraw from the pact, U.S. intelligence officials testified that there is no indication Iran is currently attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and told lawmakers that Tehran remains in compliance with the agreement despite the U.S. withdrawal, CNN notes.