Washington: Donald Trump has no plans to restructure the nation’s top spy agency, his transition team said Thursday, refuting an explosive report that said the president-elect was considering paring back a bloated intelligence apparatus.
Republican Trump has been highly critical of the nation’s intelligence community for months, openly casting doubt on its conclusion that Russia was involved in US election-related cyber attacks.
“These reports are false,” said Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, referring to a Wall Street Journal report late Wednesday that said Trump was aiming to scale back the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and restructure the Central Intelligence Agency.
“There is no truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure. It is 100 percent false,” Spicer told reporters on a conference call.
Trump won a stunning upset against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the US election on November 8.
US intelligence officials and the White House have said Russia was behind a series of computer attacks, including of the Democratic Party in 2016, and leaks of hacked documents, which hurt Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In a closely-watched Senate hearing, top intelligence officials Thursday presented a united front as they reiterated their conclusion that Moscow interfered ahead of the election.
The Journal had quoted a source familiar with Trump’s strategy as saying the president-elect and his advisors were working on a plan to scale back a US intelligence world which “has become completely politicized.”
“They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
Trump’s criticism of US spy agencies and praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn stern rebukes from Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike.
On Thursday, Trump insisted he supports the US intelligence agencies.
“The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!” the president-elect tweeted.
But Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the willingness of Trump and his backers to disregard the determinations of the US intelligence community had reached “embarrassing” levels.
“This is not healthy skepticism as they would like to portray it,” Schiff told CNN on Thursday. “This is very unhealthy, essentially avoidance of the facts.”