President Donald Trump intends to ask billionaire Stephen A. Feinberg to conduct a full White House review of the intelligence community, following leaks that led to Michael Flynn’s resignation.
The likely move has intelligence officials concerned that their agencies will lose independence, The New York Times reports.
Feinberg, co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, already serves on Trump’s economic advisory council, and while there hasn’t yet been any official announcement of Feinberg joining the administration, word of the possibility has provoked intense worries that he may be slated for a key intelligence position.
Some of these intelligence officials are unsure of the point of bringing Feinberg onboard for a review, as significant changes to the structure of intelligence agencies would have to move through Congress.
“I don’t think any of us think a major restructuring of the community is in order,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden added.
Ever since his presidential campaign, Trump has been locked in a battle with the intelligence community, though that battle has recently intensified after details of the private conversation then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had a phone call in December with the Russian ambassador surfaced in the press.
Before Trump asked Flynn to resign, the CIA also denied one of Flynn’s aides security clearance, further escalating tensions.
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Trump has laid the blame on the leaks squarely on intelligence officials, and others, like former CIA officer Tony Shaffer, have listed particular figures who he thinks may be responsible, namely former CIA Director John Brennan, a loyalist of former President Barack Obama, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
GOP Rep. Steve King recently stated on CNN that there needs to be a hunt to root out the people in the intelligence community leaking information.
“We have to find the people that are working against this administration and they need to be purged from this community,” King said on CNN. “We need to find out who the leaking moles are who are violating federal law because we can’t function from a national security standpoint if we have that spillage coming out of the community.”
Providing classified information to unauthorized individuals is a federal crime.
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