Intelligence chiefs reveal gulf with Trump on North Korea, Iran, ISIS
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.”
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 US, 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 apparent 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.
What Trump has said: On December 19, the President announced that US 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.”
Since then, members of the Trump administration have repeatedly sought to downplay ISIS’ reach and impact in Syria.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted the gains the US and its partners have made in the fight against the terrorist organization.
“It should not go unnoticed that we’ve also defeated the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq alongside more than six dozen nations in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS,” Pompeo said in remarks to the World Economic Forum delivered via satellite.
Pompeo noted “there’s a lot more work to do,” but told those at the Davos, Switzerland, forum that “with your help I know we’ll achieve it.”
What intelligence officials said on Tuesday: “ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria,” Coats testified.
Despite repeated claims by the Trump administration, and the President himself, that ISIS has been defeated, US 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.