Jefferson Morley | April 17, 2019
Gina Haspel’s Perilous Relationship with Trump
The CIA director has searched for ways to connect with her boss in the White House: with a picture of dead ducks allegedly killed by poison used by GRU agents to assassinate (unsuccessfully) turncoat Russian agent Sergey Skripal.
According to The New York Times, she appeals to his known interest in American hostages.
Early in her tenure, Mr. Trump asked for updates on hostages held in North Korea, Iran, Yemen and elsewhere. Ms. Haspel told her C.I.A. deputies to prioritize hostage cases, to make sure the latest developments were available in presidential intelligence briefings.
Haspel has also, in face of considerable evidence, vouched for Trump’s interest in intelligence, calling him “knowledgeable and engaged.”
From the former CIA personnel quoted by the Times, you get the feeling the intelligence community hopes the Trump presidency will end.
“The C.I.A. is going through tough times because we have a president who says inaccurate things about the intelligence community and his understanding of the facts is questionable,” said Nicholas Dujmovic, the director of the intelligence studies program at the Catholic University of America, who served as a C.I.A. officer for 23 years. “The message to the intelligence community is to hunker down. This will pass.”
And the president’s summary dismissal of a Cabinet officer who disagreed with him doesn’t augur well for Haspel’s longevity as spy chief.
“But as she continues to present facts and analysis that differ from what the president wants to hear, especially on high-profile issues like Russia and North Korea,” Ms. Kendall-Taylor warned, “her influence will wane.”