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Photo: Sarah Silbiger / New York Times
Photo: Sarah Silbiger/New York Times

National intelligence chiefs contradict President Trump

During a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the the country's top intelligence officials painted a very different reality from the one that…

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If the veracity behind the president's words was already questionable, statements made by the national intelligence chiefs in a Senate hearing on Tuesday makes them look like baldfaced lies.

Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has made harsh comments about the reality in regions that pose a danger to the country, such as Iran, Syria, North Korea and, obviously, Russia.

Although the U.S. president is not exactly an expert on matters of international politics, the distance between his assertions and the statements of those who know best about the issues in those countries is, at best, alarming.

While Trump has insisted on playing down the widely verified and acknowledged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections - even doubting that it happened at all - FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel have arrived at a different conclusion.

"Russia's social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians," the intelligence document says. "Moscow may employ additional influence toolkits — such as spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and-leak operations, or manipulating data — in a more targeted fashion to influence U.S. policy, actions, and elections."

In addition, while Trump marked a milestone by being the first acting president to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the denuclearization of the country is not as certain as he assured following their meeting last summer.

Coats said that the agencies' investigations have observed "an activity that is inconsistent with the total denuclearization" of the peninsula.

"We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival," he added.

Similarly, Trump has managed to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, arguing that the country was not "delivering as promised" and refusing to “continue financing" agreements that "didn’t work.”

In this, the director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, also had something to add.

"At the moment, technically they’re in compliance, but we do see them debating amongst themselves as they fail to realize the economic benefits they hope for from the deal," she said.

And, finally, the icing on the cake was Coats' guarantee that ISIS has not been defeated.

Just weeks ago, Trump assured before the cameras that "ISIS was defeated" and that he would withdraw the troops from Syria, not only fulfilling another of his campaign promises but leaving an opening for powers like Russia in the conflict.

Radically denying the president's statements, Coats said that while ISIS was severely weakened in Iraq, the group "has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots" and "still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria."

The intelligence officials also emphasized issues that have been overlooked by the president, such as the strengthened alliance between China and Russia. However, they did not dedicate a single sentence to the only threat that the president sees from his window: the border with Mexico.

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