Top Republican politicians expressed their concern over President Trump’s feud with his own intelligence services as they made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows today.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the president’s public humiliation of his intelligence chiefs in the wake of their congressional testimony positing national security threats that contradicted Trump’s own loudly-stated opinions as “troubling to all of us” in an appearance on CNN‘s State of the Union.
“We should respect them,” he said of the intelligence community. “Most of the time they are pretty much on point.”
“I think there’s got to be real good communications between the president and the director of the CIA and the director of national intelligence,” Shelby, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said.
“These are professional people. The president’s briefed every day on it. He’s not an intelligence officer. None of us are. But they — the people on the front lines, the people who analyze who gather and disseminate intelligence information to our higher-ups, we should respect them,” the senator concluded.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 3, 2019
Senator Shelby wasn’t the only GOP leader to plead with the president to value the dedicated research conducted by the intelligence professionals over his own internal instincts. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) made many of the same points in his appearance on Fox News Sunday today as he called it “imperative” for the president to follow the guidance he receives from his national security team.
“There’s an awful lot, there’s so much tradition, and history and complexity to some of these foreign policy issues, you have to rely on people who have been working these issues for decades,” Senator Johnson said.
“It’s just imperative that you actually listen to, for example, the CIA chief, the director of national intelligence,” he continued. “These people have the real knowledge and you have to listen to them.”
Senator Johnson at least was smart enough to make his remarks on the one cable news network that may actually be able to convey his message to the president effectively, since he seems to pay more attention to the opinions of Fox News hosts on both foreign and domestic policy issues than he does his own intelligence advisors.
Perhaps CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats should deliver their national security threat assessments on Fox News instead of in front of Congress in order to get Trump to pay attention to what they are trying to convey to him.
The increasing alienation between Republicans in Congress and the president over national security matters does not bode well for the smooth conduct of foreign policy during the remaining months of the Trump administration. As Trump faces increasing levels of discomfort from GOP congressional leaders over his government shutdown and the threat of declaring a national emergency over his border wall tantrum, in addition to his internal war with his intelligence chiefs, the threat of a Republican insurrection against Trump’s capricious leadership becomes closer to reality.
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