Campaign Puts Trump and the Spy Agencies on a Collision Course

Even as president, Donald J. Trump flaunted his animosity for intelligence officials, portraying them as part of a politicized “deep state” out to get him. And since he left office, that distrust has grown into outright hostility, with potentially serious implications for national security should he be elected again.

Citing his belief that his 2016 campaign had been spied on by the intelligence community, Mr. Trump on Wednesday urged his House allies to “kill” a bill that would extend an expiring surveillance law that national security officials say is crucial to their ability to gather foreign intelligence and fight terrorism on behalf of the country. The House approved the legislation on Friday only after Republicans revised it to ensure that Mr. Trump would get another crack at shaping it to his liking if he wins the presidency again.

Indicted last year on charges of hoarding classified documents after leaving office and obstructing efforts to retrieve them, Mr. Trump has also translated his anger into legal arguments, telling a federal court that there is no reason to believe the “meritless claims” of agencies like the C.I.A. regarding the “alleged sensitivities” of the files.

Intelligence agencies have shown a bias against Mr. Trump since the first impeachment against him, his lawyers have argued in the classified documents case, promising a fight if officials testify that his actions put the country at risk.

Mr. Trump is now on a possible collision course with the intelligence community. After he formally accepts the Republican presidential nomination in July, he will be entitled to receive a briefing from intelligence officials. Should he win the election, he would again command security agencies that he has repeatedly portrayed as his enemy and vowed to “demolish.”

The result is a complicated and possibly destabilizing situation the United States has never seen before: deep-seated suspicion and disdain on the part of a former and perhaps future president toward the very people he would be relying on for the most sensitive information he would need to perform his role if elected again.

Back to top button