Trump’s Intelligence Chiefs Contradicted Him on Live TV. Naturally He’s Blaming the Media.

“A false narrative is so bad for our Country,” he tweeted.

CIA Director Gina Haspel speaks with director of national intelligence Dan Coats during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.Jose Luis Magana/AP

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Days after Donald Trump called the intelligence community “extremely passive and naive” for publicly contradicting his views on Iran, the president decided to blame the media instead. In a series of tweets Thursday afternoon, Trump said the media “distorted” and “mischaracterized” the intelligence chiefs’ Senate testimony about global threats. Reporters quickly seized on the hearing as evidence of Trump’s disagreements with his intelligence team.

Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate intelligence committee convened the heads of the major intelligence agencies to deliver their annual global threat assessment, which contained several statements at odds with Trump’s public positions. The 42-page report, for example, refers to climate change as a threat to “infrastructure, health, and water and food security.” Trump has called global warming a Chinese hoax, and has even dismissed a report produced by his own administration that warned of grave economic consequences if the United States did not curb its carbon dioxide emissions. “I don’t believe it,” Trump had said.

Other elements of the report flatly dispute Trump’s view of North Korea. After returning from his summit with dictator Kim Jong-un in June, Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” The report came to the opposite conclusion, noting, “North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and the [intelligence community] continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities.” During the hearing, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pressed Gina Haspel, the CIA director, on whether North Korea has shown any signs of changing its behavior. Haspel affirmed the intelligence community’s assessment. “I don’t think I can point to any specific changes over the past couple of years,” she said.

Twenty-four hours ago, Trump’s Twitter feed told a much different story about the hearing. Rather than question the media’s reporting, he challenged the intelligence community directly.

Trump reportedly watched the hearing live from the White House and was “furious” when early news coverage showed his views being contradicted by his advisers, according to CNN. Now it appears after meeting with his intelligence chiefs, Trump is singing a different tune. “We are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, etc.,” he said, adding, “[a] false narrative is so bad for our Country.”

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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