Donald Trump trusts WikiLeaks more than the CIA or FBI

January 4, 2017It's hard to believe that Donald Trump still has the ability to surprise us, but here we are.

The president-elect sent a pair of breakfast-time tweets that, while not exactly praising WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, surely paints him in a positive light and continues Trump's efforts in antagonizing and undermining U.S. intelligence agencies.

In his tweets, Trump gives credence to claims Assange made in a recent interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity that Russia was not the source of the DNC emails posted by WikiLeaks. Trump also supported Assange's claims that the U.S. media was "dishonest" in its reporting on the story.

In his interview, Assange claimed WikiLeaks' source for the now-infamous Democratic National Committee email leaks was not Russia, telling Hannity, "We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government. And it is not a state party."

Trump's support of Assange follows weeks of skepticism aimed at U.S. intelligence agencies by the president-elect, a seeming distrust that has already raised the ire of political opponents.

The president-elect has been most vocal about claims by the CIA and FBI that Russian hackers interfered in the U.S. election, which recently saw heavy sanctions imposed on Russia from outgoing president Barack Obama. 

In fact, Trump's support of Assange comes just hours after Trump derided intelligence officials for delaying his official briefing on the hack until later in the week, accusing them of scrambling to strengthen a flimsy case.

This week's statements are just the latest examples of Trump's apparent distrust of those agencies, though, and the inherent undermining of their authority that comes with it. 

When the CIA reported in mid-December that it backed claims Russian hackers were aiming to help get Trump elected, Trump flippantly shrugged it off by implying it was a conspiracy theory, delegitimizing both the case and the agency.

Trump has also refused to accept the CIA's daily briefings, saying he doesn't need them because, "I don’t have to be told, you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years."

But this attitude isn't new; Trump has questioned the competency of U.S. intelligence since before he was even elected. When the FBI cleared Hillary Clinton for a second time in the case of her use of a private email server, Trump questioned how the agency checked so many emails in a short amount of time.

While the email scenario is totally plausible, Trump's undermining of these intelligence agencies also feeds into the general distrust of these large entities that Trump's supporters hold, a mindset Trump has successfully exploited in tactics that range from continually questioning President Obama's birth place to claiming the media was rigging the election (even though he ultimately won).  

Trump's critics have fired back at these latest claims. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized Trump for the lack of respect shown toward "the intelligence community."

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