Donald Trump’s spokesman on Thursday denied a Wall Street Journal report that Trump is aiming to restructure the top U.S. intelligence agency.
“These reports are false,” said Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary. “All transition activities are for information-gathering purposes and all discussions are tentative. The president-elect’s top priority is to ensure the safety of the American people and the security of the nation and he is committed to finding the best and most effective ways to do it.”
“There is no truth to this idea of restructuring the intelligence community infrastructure,” Spicer added. “It is 100 percent false.”
The Journal reported that sources familiar with the planning said Trump was motivated by the belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had become politicized. The report cited another source saying Trump aimed to restructure the CIA, cutting back staff at the Virginia headquarters and moving more CIA staff into the field.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,” the Journal quoted a person close to the transition as saying. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
The Journal’s report follows a November Intercept story about discussions within the Trump team to “dismantle” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The report comes after Trump has repeatedly questioned the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election to help him and harm Hillary Clinton. Trump has said the American people should “move on” from concerns about Russian hacking, and cited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to cast doubt on Russia’s role in the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
But Trump himself seemed to push back on the notion that he is hostile to American intelligence agencies on Twitter Thursday morning.
“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people….to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!” Trump wrote.
Trump is scheduled to meet with FBI director James Comey, CIA director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Friday to be briefed on the intelligence community’s conclusions regarding the hacking.