According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, President-elect Donald Trump is planning to reconfigure two of the top U.S. intelligence agencies when he takes office. The paper spoke to a source close to the transition who said that Trump had his eyes on the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world [is] becoming completely politicized,” the source told WSJ. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring agencies and how they interact.”
This story is being reported through the lens of Trump’s comments on the Russian hacking intelligence – and that undoubtedly is part of what’s motivating the president-elect – but this idea of slicing through the bureaucracy of the DNI is not controversial or new.
From the WSJ:
Lawmakers and intelligence experts in the past have proposed cutting or restructuring the ODNI. The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a White House panel, recommended in a classified report in 2010 that the agency be downsized and closely focused, according to the Congressional Research Service.
So the concept of cutting through some of the red tape is not exactly a radical proposal. The Democrats are eager to make this look like some kind of backlash against the intelligence community for them saying that Russia helped Trump get elected. If it is, it’s not because Trump is angry; it’s because he believes that their findings are colored by a political agenda.
That said, this Russia thing isn’t going away even if Trump abolishes every U.S. intelligence agency in the country. Republicans in Congress are putting as much daylight as they can between themselves and the president-elect on this issue, and Democrats are looking for anything and everything they can use to bring Trump down.
Perhaps this will just quietly fade away over the coming weeks and months, but it doesn’t feel like that kind of story. Eventually, this is going to come to a head. It would not be shocking to see Trump and the GOP locked in direct confrontation before the month of January is out.