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5 Jan, 2017 19:25

Trump says he’s ‘big fan’ of intelligence amid criticism of his agency restructuring plans

Trump says he’s ‘big fan’ of intelligence amid criticism of his agency restructuring plans

President-elect Donald Trump has backtracked on his criticism of US intelligence agencies as “politicized” and “bloated”, declaring in his latest tweet, that he’s a “big fan” amid reports of his plans to restructure the intelligence services.

“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange - wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth,” said Trump in a two-part tweet on Thursday. “The media lies to make it look like I am against 'Intelligence' when in fact I am a big fan!”

Trump faced criticism by Democrats and some fellow republicans over his attacks on the intelligence community which he described as “politicized.” He also quoted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in his tweet on Wednesday.

Trump is said to be working with top advisers on a plan to restructure the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) which oversees 17 federal agencies, according to the Wall Street Journal. The plans involve restricting and scaling back the ODNI, which Trump thinks has become bloated and politicized, the WSJ reported.

The ODNI was set up during the Bush Administration in response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center to boost coordination between the various intelligence agencies.

The WSJ reported that Trump’s plan included pruning the Central Intelligence Agency, specifically, “cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) warned Trump against “dismantling the intelligence community.”

“You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” the Democratic leader told MSNBC. “So even for a practical supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

It’s not the first time the ODNI has been a restructuring target. In 2010, a White House panel recommended in a classified report, that the agency be downsized and closely focused, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Trump’s criticism that the intelligence services are “politicized,” was amplified when the Obama administration began peddling intelligence claims that Russia orchestrated the computer hacking attack into the Democratic National Committee’s servers.

The Russian government has consistently denied any involvement. Assange, the publisher of the hacked emails from the DNC, has also said repeatedly that the whistleblower site did not receive the emails from the Russian government or any other state player.

Trump has launched several social-media attacks against US intelligence agencies, especially over their assessment over the alleged Russian hacking scandal. Trump’s latest rant focused on an intelligence briefing he was due to receive.

“The "Intelligence" briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case,” Trump tweeted on January 3. “Very strange!”

Trump has already shaken up established Washington practice by rejecting the traditional daily intelligence briefing given to presidents and presidents-elect, preferring instead, to be briefed once a week.

“I get it when I need it,” Trump told Fox News in December. “You know, I’m, like, a smart person.”