Intelligence officials ask Congress not to hold threats hearings after angering Trump last year
Posted January 16, 2020 1:08 p.m. EST
CNN — US intelligence officials have quietly asked the Senate and House Intelligence Committees not to hold public hearings on this year's World Wide Threats Assessment after testimony from agency chiefs last year prompted an angry response from President Donald Trump, according to a source familiar.
Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence broached the topic during informal preliminary discussions with committee staff, the source said.
While these officials made it clear that they don't want top intelligence officials to testify publicly, they haven't formally refused to do so as an invitation to appear has not been issued yet, the source added. The request is unlikely to be granted, multiple sources told CNN.
Politico was first to report the push from intelligence agencies.
An ODNI spokesperson did not deny preliminary discussions have taken place but did provide some additional context related to last year's planning process.
"I can also share regarding last year's Worldwide Threat Assessment that the ODNI issued its unclassified statement for the record and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing in January. While we did not reach a mutual agreement for public testimony with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last year, the director of national intelligence and many other IC leaders conducted classified roundtables sessions with the committee," the spokesperson told CNN.
When pressed by Senate lawmakers during last year's hearing, Trump's intelligence chiefs, including then-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.
Trump chastised his top intelligence officials the next day for being soft on Iran, citing their testimony that there is no indication Tehran is currently attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and remained in compliance with the nuclear agreement despite the US withdrawal.
"The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump tweeted at the time. "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 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!"