Trump’s shameful rhetorical war against his own intelligence community was sparked on Tuesday when Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee and exposed Trump as a liar on the issues of ISIS, Iran, and North Korea.
The president then retaliated yesterday by slinging schoolyard bully insults on Twitter, comporting himself in a manner deeply unbefitting the man entrusted with keeping our country safe from our adversaries. To him, playing politics is far more important than tending to his mortally serious responsibilities, and he’d rather make the United States less safe than admit that he lied about something.
The backlash against Trump’s execrable behavior was swift and widespread, and now he’s trying to lie his way out of the scandal. Today, he was asked if he has spoken to his intelligence chiefs about his “displeasure” with them.
“I did and they said that they were totally misquoted, and they were totally… It was taken out of context. So what I’d do is… I’d suggest that you call them. They said it was fake news, which frankly didn’t surprise me,” Trump claimed, unconvincingly.
The comments were not taken out of context and were in fact filmed and presented to audiences within their full context. Trump can’t change that fact. There is hard evidence that this is not “fake news.” Furthermore, the fact that he launched his Twitter attack in the first place indicates that he saw the clips and recognized them as real.
The most likely explanation here is not that the intelligence chiefs contradicted his public statements then later told him in private that they had not. It’s equally unlikely these officials referred to the reports about their testimony as “fake news.” As usual, the most likely explanation is that Trump is lying and putting words in their mouths.
Q: "Did you talk to your intelligence chiefs today about the displeasure you had with their…"
President Trump: "I did. They said that they were totally misquoted, and they were totally – it was taken out of context…The said it was fake news." pic.twitter.com/odd6tVSxfY
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 31, 2019
Unfortunately for Trump, the videos of the testimony still exist. One need simply watch the clips to see that Trump is lying.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 29, 2019
CIA Dir. Haspel: ISIS is "still dangerous…and they still command thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria."
"While we have defeated the caliphate, with a couple of little villages left…ISIS will continue to be a threat to the United States," DNI Coats says. pic.twitter.com/GvSMBXUz0F
— ABC News (@ABC) January 29, 2019
Reporters on Twitter immediately pounced on Trump’s absurd claims, reminding everyone that the videos exist proving him wrong.
From the WH Pool: Trump talked with DNI Dan Coats and CIA director Gina Haspel "about his displeasure with their congressional testimony" today. Trump said they claimed they'd been misquoted and it’s fake news.
Note: It was public testimony. On video tape.
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) January 31, 2019
It's possible Coats and Haspel did try to convince Trump that the reporting of their televised testimony was "fake," but Trump is an exceptionally unreliable recounter of what people told him behind closed doors. https://t.co/Wc9rke0HDz
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 31, 2019
Clearly, the president has so little faith in his own rabid supporters that he thinks they’re more likely to believe whatever nonsense dribbles out of his mouth than irrefutable video evidence. Despite what he thinks, his words do not define reality.