Jan 31, 2019 - Politics & Policy

All the times Trump's intelligence officials contradicted him

Donald Trump puts up hand to camera and looks away.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After his intelligence officials contradicted President Trump multiple times in sworn, public testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Trump tweeted that their national security assessments were “wrong!” and that perhaps they “should go back to school.”

Why it matters: This is not the first time President Trump has cast doubt on the findings of the U.S. intelligence community, especially when they run counter to his interests or preconceived notions. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, notes: "People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter."


Trump: "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." (Dec. 19, 2018)

  • Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: "ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria." (Jan. 29, 2019)

On the Iran Deal

Trump: "The Iran Deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know what will happen. In just a short time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon." (May 8, 2018)

  • Coats: "We do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device." (Jan. 29, 2019)
  • CIA Director Gina Haspel: "At the moment technically they are in compliance but we do see them debating amongst themselves as they fail to realize the economic benefits they hoped for from the deal." (Jan. 29, 2019)

On North Korea

Trump: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea." (June 13, 2018)

  • Coats: "We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival." (Jan. 29, 2019)
  • Trump insisted the day after that he thinks he is correct: "North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S. No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization..." (Jan. 30, 2019)

On Russian election interference

Trump: Putin "said he didn't meddle, he said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times...Every time he sees me he says I didn't do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it." (Nov. 11, 2017)

  • Coats: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations." (Feb. 13, 2018)
  • Then-NSA Director Mike Rogers: "This is not going to change or stop," referring to election meddling attempts. (Feb. 13, 2018)

On Mueller

White House spokeswoman: The Mueller probe is "probably one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate." (May 11, 2017)

  • Then-acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe: The FBI considers the Mueller investigation a "highly significant investigation." (May 11, 2017)

Trump: "A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!" (Mar. 19, 2018)

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray: "I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt." (June 18, 2018)

Trump: The Inspector General report on James Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton emails "totally exonerates me" with relation to the Mueller probe. "There was no collusion, there was no obstruction." (June 15, 2018)

  • Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz: "We did not look into collusion questions." (June 18, 2018)
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray: "I don't think this report speaks to the special counsel investigation." (June 18, 2018)

On Comey

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: Comey had "lost the confidence" of "rank-and-file" FBI employees. (May 9, 2017)

  • McCabe: "Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day." (May 11, 2017)

On Khashoggi

Trump: "Sounded to me like maybe there could have been rogue killers — who knows" who killed Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Oct. 15, 2018)

  • The CIA reportedly assessed with "high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing. (Nov. 16, 2018)

On Rob Porter

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah: The background investigation into former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who was accused of domestic abuse, was "ongoing." (Feb. 8, 2018)

  • Wray: The FBI "completed" his background investigation in late July, and "we administratively closed the file in January." (Feb. 13, 2018)

On Brett Kavanaugh

Shah: The "scope and duration" of the investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "has been set by the Senate." (Sep. 29, 2018)

  • Wray: The investigation was "limited in scope" by "the White House." (Oct. 10, 2018)

On wiretapping

Trump: "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" (Mar. 4, 2017)

  • Comey: "We do not have any information that supports those tweets." (Mar. 20, 2017)
  • Then-NSA Director Mike Rogers: "I have seen nothing on the NSA side that we have engaged in such activity, nor that anyone ever asked us to engage in such activity." (Mar. 20, 2017)

Go deeper: Everything Trump says he knows "more about than anybody"

Go deeper