President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers 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, these people said.
.. 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 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.”
.. “We have two choices: some guy living in an embassy on the run from the law…who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “I’m going with them.”
.. White House officials have been frustrated by Mr. Trump’s confrontations with intelligence officials. “It’s appalling,” an official said. “No president has ever taken on the CIA and come out looking good.”
.. 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.
.. Current and former officials said it was particularly striking to see Mr. Trump quote Mr. Assange in tweets.
“It’s pretty horrifying to me that he’s siding with Assange over the intelligence agencies,’’ said one former law enforcement official.
The most innocent reading of these comments is that Mr. Trump is seeking to flatter his Russian counterpart into a cooperative relationship, much as George W. Bush and Mr. Obama sought to do in the early days of their presidencies... they raise the possibility that his desire for a better relationship is shaping his attitude toward the intelligence.. This is called politicizing intelligence, and it’s reprehensible whether done in the service of starting a war or passing a treaty... It isn’t a secret that the Trump Organization has long been entwined with Russian business interests: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr. told a real-estate conference in 2008. It isn’t a secret that Mr. Trump’s campaign was curiously studded by figures with deep business ties to Russian or pro-Russian figures, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Carter Page. It isn’t a secret that businessmen from Russia and other former Soviet states have been major investorsin marquee projects such as the Trump Soho in New York and the Trump hotel in Toronto... he can begin by telling us what he knows about his Russia ties that the rest of us still don’t.