NEW YORK – President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, especially the CIA is working with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), whom Mr. Trump selected as CIA director, on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said.
The move is prompted by his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized, the Wall Street Journal Reports.
According to the WSJ’s report, one of the people familiar with Mr. Trump’s planning said advisers also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,” said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”
In Twitter posts on Wednesday, Mr. Trump referenced an interview that WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange gave to Fox News in which Mr. Assange denied Russia had been his source for the thousands of emails he published that had been stolen from Democratic organizations and Hillary Clinton advisers, including campaign manager John Podesta.
Mr. Trump tweeted: “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’—why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”
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. Assange, long viewed with disdain by government officials and lawmakers.
Mr. Trump’s advisers say he has long been skeptical of the CIA’s accuracy, and the president-elect often mentions faulty intelligence in 2002 and 2003 concerning Iraq’s weapons programs. But his public skepticism about the Russia assessments has jarred analysts accustomed to more cohesion with the White House.
Top officials at U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, have said Russia orchestrated the computer attacks on the Democratic Party last year.
President Barack Obama ordered the intelligence agencies to produce a report on the hacking operation, and he is expected to be presented with the findings on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Russia has long denied any involvement in the hacking operation, though Mr. Putin has said releasing the stolen emails was a public service.
Gen. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo share Mr. Trump’s view that the intelligence community’s position—that Russia tried to help his campaign—is an attempt to undermine his victory or say he didn’t win, the official close to the transition said.
Gen. Flynn will lead the White House’s National Security Council, giving him broad influence in military and intelligence decisions throughout the government. He is also a believer in rotating senior intelligence agencies into the field and reducing headquarters staff.
Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials have reacted with a mix of bafflement and outrage to Mr. Trump’s continuing series of jabs at U.S. spies.
By Damian Paletta and Julian E. Barnes | Read full Story: The Wall Street Journal