Amid controversy with the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn, tensions rise between the Trump administration and US Intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On Wednesday, a report citing unnamed former and current officials stated that intelligence agencies may be “withholding sensitive information from the president” due to suspicion that it will be leaked in connection with President Donald Trump’s dubious ties to Putin. On the same day, it was reported that Trump could launch a review of the agencies led by billionaire Stephen Feinberg, which could threaten the intelligence community’s independence and diminish their ability to secure information that opposes Trump’s agenda.
It doesn’t end there.
Earlier this week, another report came out with news that the Justice Department specifically notified the president about Flynn’s actions and “vulnerability to Russian blackmail” in January. Instead of responding, Trump went on Twitter to shame the intelligence agencies for “illegally” giving out classified information “like candy”. Of course Trump didn’t mention the fact that Flynn broke US law by conducting diplomacy as a private citizen, a true illegal action.
What does this mean for the future?
Trump launching a review of the intelligence agencies could mean more than intimidation. There is suspicion that the investigation is an excuse to condition Feinberg for a high position in one of the intelligence agencies despite little to no experience. With a loyalist at the top, this could tie the hands of any intelligence agency, especially when a good portion of the analysis produced by American intelligence agencies contradicts the policy positions of the Trump administration.
It also could mean a new pinnacle for cooperation between the intelligence community and the media. With both under attack by the president and with the mutual goal of greater transparency in the government, the two forces could ally to curtail the limits Donald Trump seeks to place on both.
At this point in the battle between Intelligence and Donald Trump, the one who can manipulate the playing field best will win.