Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies

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Us now is Robert Draper writer at large for the New York Times magazine. He's the author of several books including most recently to start a war how the Bush administration took America into Iraq Arbor draper has just published this landmark piece of reporting the Times magazine. It's called unwanted truth this inside trump's battles with US intelligence agencies among the scoops embedded here is news that. The. White House pressured the Director of National Intelligence to change and intelligence community conclusion that Russia wanted president trump reelected in two thousand, twenty, the intelligence director at the time Dan Coats said, no, he was then fired his successor signed off on the change, but he was then fired after one of his deputies briefed Congress that in fact, Russia is working to reelect president trump this year. Mr Draper I, thank you for this reporting for joining us here tonight to help us understand it. Thanks very much for your time. I've said a lot of words about the. Words that you have reported here and that you have printed. Let me just ask if I got anything wrong or if you think that I'm looking at anything the wrong way around. To actually think presences I did when issue two clarifications the I rooted in the most important is that I am not aware the Joe McGuire had anything to do with the alteration of the National Intelligence Estimate this all took place during his first couple of weeks on the job when his hands were very much full with Ukraine whistleblower incident as you correctly pointed at and so this really. Anthem it matter win the in I was approved on September the twenty six inch testifying on the hill all day long. So he wasn't able to cheer that meeting. So that's the first second thing is that You know they're a don't want the story to give anyone the impression that the intelligence community as a whole has been bent to the will of Donald Trump. There's still plenty of analysts in case officers who are doing very good work. The problem is that the people above them have been in the line of fire with the trump administration and had begun to water down such that the intelligence products do not have the integrity that they once did not mean saying black is why end up as down but they are saying things in a more equivocating fashion and we saw this most recently just out of this past Friday. On a no deny official release this election security report saying that for the first time did yes it did appear the Russia. Trump essentially the same breath saying that China in Iran. Favored Biden is if it were kind of a jump ball or something in that was working patient, you did not see before the trump presidency. I feel like I. Thank you for for those clarifications and for drilling down on those things in that way I feel like. When I read it, the beginning of your piece that Dan Coats was pressured to change the National Intelligence Estimate around Russia's intentions for the two thousand election and he said, no felt like, wow, that's that's really big news about Dan Coats to find out that that happened just before he was fired. Is itself a scoop. But then to find out that the National Intelligence Estimate. was in fact watered down in the way that the White House wanted under Joe McGuire. It it does seem like the sort of bending to the White House's will equivocating on things that aren't equivocal casting things in a way that doesn't you know is designed not to upset the president or put things in ways that he likes it does feel like it's not just pressure, but it's effective pressure that's actually working on the I say. Over sharing in. A. probably Rachel that the matter of. Russia in election security has been a sore subject since before trump's presidency and everyone knew I in the NFC in the West Wing and certainly in the intelligence community that to bring the very matter of Russia interfering in two thousand sixteen, it's likely interference patterns through the midterms and into twenty twenty an most of all that if they were trump would be to call into question the legitimacy of this presidency. That's how he would receive this and so because it was such an unpleasant thing as report out then chief definite Mulvaney and then national security advisor. John was a considerable lengths to to keep this completely off the agenda would get on the agenda for example, when it was a single in a seat meeting at relating to Russia in Election Security Pearson Nelson than the secretary of. Homeland Security didn't get five minutes into it before trump started interrupting her and asking questions about a wall along the Mexican border. So this has been a distasteful subject to him people around him have known that and they have adjusted themselves unfortunately accordingly.

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