Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Reports Claim President-elect Donald Trump Intends to Restructure U.S. Intelligence Agencies 
Wednesday, January 4, 2017, 10:37 PM

President-elect Donald Trump, a fierce critic of the U.S. intelligence community, is reportedly working on scaling back two of the country's largest spy agencies because he believes they have become "completely politicized," people familiar with the plan have revealed.

Multiple sources close to the Trump transition team told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the President-elect is of the opinion that both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency have become too politically vested.

"The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized. They all need to be slimmed down," one source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the paper.

The DNI, which oversees the entire intelligence community, would face "restructuring" under the plan while the CIA would see staff cuts at its Virginia headquarters, the source added.

A spokeswoman for Trump would not return a request for comment from the Daily News Wednesday evening on how the supposed restructuring would play out.

News of the plan comes as the President-elect is doubling down on his distrust of the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia stole emails from Democratic groups and individuals and handed them over to WikiLeaks in a direct effort to help Trump win the White House.

Trump signaled in a tweet earlier Wednesday that he took WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange by his word when he told Fox News the day before that Russia was not the source of the anti-secrecy site's massive email leak, which caused repeated embarrassments for Hillary Clinton during the campaign season.

"Julian Assange said a '14-year-old could have hacked Podesta' — why was DNC so careless?" Trump tweeted, referring to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, who had thousands of email stolen by hackers.

"Also said Russians did not give him the info!" the President-elect added in an apparent embrace of the Kremlin's repeated denials of the hacking allegations.

Trump has been rebuked by both Democrats and Republicans for repeatedly praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, refusing to accept the intelligence community's conclusion on the election hacks, and now for embracing Assange.

"I don't believe any American should give a whole lot of credibility to anything Julian Assange says," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Wednesday. "Assange has a record of undermining the United States. He's no friend to America or democracy."

In an ironic twist, Trump in 2010 said the people behind WikiLeaks should be punished with "the death penalty or something" after the anti-secrecy site published hundreds of thousands of classified military documents leaked by U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning, who is currently in prison for violating the Espionage Act.

Republicans have previously tried to pare back the DNI, which was founded in the wake of 9/11 to boost counterterrorism, nuclear proliferation and counterintelligence efforts. But such attempts have proven difficult as the office is responsible for overseeing core national security operations.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said Wednesday that he believes dismantling the DNI could lead to dire national security consequences.

"When Trump belittles the Intelligence Community, he impairs our national security and prospects for the success of his own Administration," Schiff tweeted. "That Trump would accept self-serving denials of Kremlin is alarming enough. Citing Assange takes him into new & more treacherous territory."

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