Mar 20, 2017 - Politics & Policy

NSA director openly says Trump complicating U.S. alliances

A stunning moment in today's House Intelligence hearing — the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, acknowledged on live television that President Trump's loose talk has complicated relationships with Britain and Germany.

  1. On Britain: Rogers was asked about Trump's repetition of an unsubstantiated claim that Britain's top spy agency wiretapped Trump on behalf of President Obama. Rogers gave a forceful "no," said he agreed with the British that the claims were nonsense, and acknowledged that Trump's allegation was unhelpful and "clearly frustrates a key ally of ours."
  2. On Germany: Rogers was asked about Trump's suggestion to German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week that they both had something in common because they'd been wiretapped by Obama. Rogers said it was unhelpful for Trump to raise this controversial incident, which became public due to leaks by Edward Snowden. "It certainly complicates things," Rogers said.

Why this matters: Germany and Britain are two of America's key allies, with foundational shared interests and intimate national security relationships. Britain belongs to the "Five Eyes" — the crucial intelligence alliance with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. These relationships — as Rogers acknowledged today — are incredibly resilient and will withstand these presidential hiccups. But for an NSA director to publicly state that the President is straining key relationships...that's extraordinary.

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