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National Security & Defense

Schumer Enters Fray as Trump’s Clash with Intel Chiefs Heats Up

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., speaks after a Democratic policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., January 29, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer released an open letter to top U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday evening urging them to hold an intervention for President Trump amid a growing fight between the White House and the Intelligence community over the latter’s assessment of foreign threats.

“I believe it is incumbent on you, [FBI] Director [Christopher] Wray and [CIA] Director [Gina] Haspel to insist on an immediate meeting with the President to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments,” the New York Democrat wrote in his letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Coats testified Tuesday along with Wray and Haspel, contradicting the president’s assessment of the threats posed by Iran, ISIS, and North Korea. Among other points of contention, the intelligence chiefs said in their testimony accompanying the intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment that North Korea is not on the path to relinquishing its nuclear weapons and that ISIS will likely “continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.”

Trump shot back on Twitter, calling his intelligence directors “extremely passive and naive” for downplaying the threat posed by Iran, claiming that the relationship between North Korea and the U.S. is the “best it has ever been,” and promising that ISIS “will soon be destroyed.”

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he wrote.

Schumer said in his letter to the intelligence chiefs that the president’s criticism “is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interest in the process.”

“I applaud you and your colleagues in the Intelligence Community for being clear-eyed about the threats we face,” he added, “but you cannot allow the President’s ill-advised and unwarranted comments today to stand.”

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