Spies keep intelligence from Donald Trump on leak concerns

Spies keep intelligence from Donald Trump on leak concerns
US President Donald Trump reacts after delivering remarks during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia U.S., January 21, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

Decision to withhold information underscores deep mistrust between intelligence community and president

US intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.

The officials' decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team's contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward US spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him.

In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.

A White House official said: "There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening."

A spokesman for the Office of Director of National Intelligence said: "Any suggestion that the US intelligence community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true."

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Intelligence officials have in the past not told a president or members of Congress about the ins and outs of how they ply their trade. At times, they have decided that secrecy is essential for protecting a source, and that all a president needs to know is what that source revealed and what the intelligence community thinks is important about it.

But in these previous cases in which information was withheld, the decision wasn't motivated by a concern about a president's trustworthiness or discretion, the current and former officials said.

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