News & Politics

Former CIA General Counsel Scorches Trump While Warning Transition Team Member of Early Crisis

"There's going to be some crisis very early in the administration."

Photo Credit: PBS NewsHour / YouTube

President-elect Trump's tumultuous relationship with the U.S. intelligence community could have disastrous consequences once he takes office. 

"Mr. Trump has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and from intelligence and law enforcement officials for praising Russian president Vladimir Putin, for criticizing U.S. spy agencies, and now for embracing Mr. [Julian] Assange, long viewed with disdain by government officials and lawmakers," the Wall Street Journal reported on January 4. 

Trump is now planning to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, as he believes that the national intelligence office has become "politicized." The idea originated in a right-wing conspiracy theory explained on Fox News by a Breitbart author. It's one that deeply troubles Jeffrey Smith, former general counsel to the CIA, who spoke in a panel discussion with James Woolsey, senior adviser to the Trump transition on PBS News Hour. 

"The [intelligence community] needs to convince the president, their new boss, that they can be trusted, and he needs to work to develop their trust," Smith said when asked about Donald Trump's notorious refusal of intelligence briefings

"There has to be a mutual understanding from both sides because there's going to be some crisis very early in the administration and the president will have to rely on what he hears from the intelligence community, and if he has been saying before he became president they can't be trusted, what does he say to the American people, now that [he's] relying on them for recommendations to take action?" Smith asked. 

He also rebuffed Woolsey's remark regarding "almost all" first reports of crisis with an impressive comeback. 

"Mr. Trump has had an extraordinary business career," Smith told Woolsey. "But dealing with sovereign states with nuclear weapons is fundamentally different than building a golf course in Scotland." 

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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