The president-elect is once again telling a clear lie, one which is easily refuted by publicly available facts and statements. But his self-serving falsehoods are part of his overarching, dangerous strategy to discredit the U.S. intelligence community, and to create his own version of reality.
The President-elect has a nasty habit of starting his morning off with disinformation.
At 7:23am EST, Donald Trump published yet another false tweet mischaracterizing both his interactions with the U.S. intelligence community and the materials purporting to present compromising information, or kompromat, on Trump, which was reportedly presented to him during his briefing by top U.S. intelligence officials:
James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts.Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
Contrary to Trump’s claims, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement last night that the intelligence community (IC) has not made any judgment about the reliability of the information one way or another:
This evening, I had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss recent media reports about our briefing last Friday. I expressed my profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press, and we both agreed that they are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.
We also discussed the private security company document, which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and Congressional staff even before the IC became aware of it. I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.
In fact, Clapper's statement was widely interpreted as a refutation of claims by Trump surrogates earlier yesterday that the president-elect had not even been briefed by the IC about the possible existence of kompromat as CNN had originally reported:
This statement appears to confirm on record the CNN report on what took place last week. pic.twitter.com/S9Szott1ng
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 12, 2017
This tweet follows within minutes the statement from DNI Clapper confirming our report on the record https://t.co/Cpr0PIw6V2
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) January 12, 2017
If you're reading the Clapper statement and don't recognize it's a direct confirmation of CNN's reporting, well, you're reading it wrong.
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) January 12, 2017
Today: Trump yells at a CNN reporter “you are fake news”
Tonight: DNI Clapper releases statement confirming CNN report.
— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) January 12, 2017
Just after dawn and using less than 140 characters, Trump managed to do four things:
- Spread a false narrative about the possible accuracy of the contents of the kompromat materials;
- Continue to sow distrust of the media;
- Gaslight Americans by telling us what we witnessed did not actually happen; and
- Misconstrue DNI Clapper’s views to suit Trump’s own ends.
Trump’s claims about what DNI Clapper said stand in direct opposition to Clapper’s own statement, and should rightly be identified as part of Trump's ongoing efforts to delegitimize the U.S. intelligence community.