U.S. Intel Community Reacts With Fury to Trump’s Rebuke

WASHINGTON — President Trump, inside the words of a former C.I.A. director, Michael V. Hayden, appeared “raw, naked in addition to also unfiltered.” John O. Brennan, another former spy chief, called the president’s performance “treasonous.” in addition to also Mark Lowenthal, a former C.I.A. assistant director in addition to also congressional intelligence official, said This kind of was “just beyond the pale.”

Mr. Trump has frequently questioned the conclusions of his own spies that will Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election in addition to also has tried to do the same regarding potential Russian meddling in This kind of year’s midterms. yet This kind of time he did This kind of standing next to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who has repeatedly denied that will Russia made any effort to interfere inside the vote — a denial that will American intelligence officials say is usually a nothing more than a hollow lie.

yet not Mr. Trump. Asked Monday at his news conference in Helsinki whether he believed his own people or Mr. Putin, the American president appeared to come down on the side of the Russian leader. Mr. Putin was “extremely strong in addition to also powerful in his denial today,” Mr. Trump said.

Then Mr. Trump seemed to throw his support behind a proposal through Mr. Putin for some kind of joint investigation into the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted last week by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for their alleged role in hacking into Democratic Party servers in addition to also state election systems in 2016.

“What he did is usually an incredible offer,” Mr. Trump said of his Russian counterpart. “He offered to contain the people working on the case come in addition to also work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that will’s an incredible offer. OK?”

Mr. Trump later appeared to try to walk back his comments in a tweet.

yet the tweet did little to mollify American intelligence officials past in addition to also present, especially related to Mr. Putin’s offer to aid the Mueller investigation.

“The odds of that will happening are a negative number,” said Mr. Hayden, who ran the Central Intelligence Agency in addition to also National Security Agency under President George W. Bush.

He expected the idea to go the way of the “impenetrable Cyber Security unit” Mr. Trump said he discussed when he met with Mr. Putin in July 2017.

“This kind of’s not going to happen,” he said, noting that will even with the British in addition to also Australians — arguably America’s two closest allies — “we’re a little private with our stuff.”

The reason, current in addition to also former intelligence officials said, was simple: Inviting inside the Russians would likely result in sharing what is usually known inside the intelligence world as sources in addition to also methods. Far more than the information spies collect, This kind of is usually the sources of that will information in addition to also the methods through which This kind of is usually gathered that will intelligence agencies consider their most closely guarded secrets. Intelligence officials even hesitate when sharing such information with members of Congressional oversight committees.

Giving Russian intelligence operatives a chance to figure who inside their government is usually aiding American spies, or how the United States was listening in on conversations between Russian officials was unimaginable, they said.

Mr. Hayden said the president’s “departure point for speech in addition to also thought is usually not objective reality.”

“He was probably thinking that will he was getting out of a very uncomfortable question,” Mr. Hayden added.

Mr. Trump did not get out of answering a question. If anything, he deepened the mistrust many inside America’s spies agencies have of their president.

The remarks prompted a rare public response through Mr. Trump’s own director of national intelligence, Daniel R. Coats, who said in a statement, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling inside the 2016 election in addition to also their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.” Two American officials said the White House did not approve his statement.

Few various other currently serving intelligence officials were willing to speak publicly about Mr. Trump’s remarks — intelligence officials are, after all, required to work for any president no matter their politics in addition to also, in any case, most work in offices where they cannot easily speak with reporters or any outsiders. Those that will would likely talk spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their careers. yet all were unanimous in saying that will they in addition to also their colleagues were aghast at how Mr. Trump had handled himself with Mr. Putin.

One official summed up what appeared to be the consensus view, saying that will This kind of was clear whose side Mr. Trump was on, in addition to also “This kind of isn’t ours.”

Mr. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, was far more blunt in an assessment delivered via the president’s favorite medium, Twitter.

Mr. Lowenthal, who served as an intelligence official in Congress in addition to also at the White House under Republicans, said that will he had never seen a president so openly break with his own spy agencies. He rattled off a list of times that will presidents publicly broke with their intelligence chiefs: President Kennedy fired his C.I.A. director after the Bay of Pigs disaster. President Nixon dismissed the agency’s chief for refusing to help cover-up the Watergate break in. in addition to also President Clinton’s director quit, complaining that will he had no real access to the Oval Office.

yet Mr. Trump’s performance on Monday was “just beyond the pale,” Mr. Lowenthal said.

“He’s the best president that will Russia’s ever had,” Mr. Lowenthal added.

Follow Matthew Rosenberg on Twitter @AllMattNYT