Intelligence Community ‘Quite Upset’ Over Donald Trump’s Comments About Briefing, Says Retired Col. Steve Ganyard
ABC News(NEW YORK) — Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Col. Steve Ganyard said Donald Trump’s comments about his classified intelligence briefing this week troubled some in the intelligence community, saying that “our friends in the intelligence community were quite upset to hear that sort of talk.”
“I think if there was any discomfort, it was not signaling any personal preference or policy — it was more because they understood that what they were saying might be used against them in a way that was untrue,” he said, in response to Trump claiming that military generals’ body language revealed their frustration with President Obama’s leadership.
Ganyard, who attended classified briefings while working at the State Department, joined this week’s episode of the Powerhouse Politics podcast with ABC News White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein to discuss Trump’s inflammatory comments about his latest intelligence briefing and possible ties to the Russian government.
Ganyard, a retired colonel and fighter pilot in the Marine Corps and current ABC News contributor, explained that the heated exchange between Gen. Michael Flynn and the intelligence officers, in which the general was allegedly restrained by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was probably more about the level of the analysis, rather than the analysis itself.
“Everybody has some sort of intelligence capability or an arm, and so DIA has been sort of the JV to the CIA’s varsity,” Ganyard said. “So I’m sure [Flynn] was expecting something much more substantial than what was given. That’s probably what he was objecting to — not the analysis itself.”
The briefing was most likely a basic, “around-the-world” overview of information, Ganyard said, with “added layers of intelligence behind it.” “So, if they’re doing that sort of thing,” he explained, “then it’s probably not going to be to the level of intelligence, the very, very secretive stuff, that General Flynn was looking for.”
As for Trump’s recent praise of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and potential ties to Russia?
“I used to think the Manchurian candidate was just a movie. Now, I’m beginning to wonder,” Ganyard replied, later slamming Trump for appearing on the Russian television program, “RT,” which he called “a propaganda arm of the Russian government.”
“For [Trump] to go on and treat it like it was ABC, or NBC, or CBS, is just deceptive,” he added.
Ganyard also didn’t hold back when calling out Hillary Clinton and her aides for their handling of sensitive information while Clinton served as secretary of state. While Clinton may have had “the ability to say ‘I don’t know what the C is’” in reference to confidential material, Ganyard has little sympathy for Clinton’s aides who handled the classified information.
“The people that don’t have any kind of excuse are her aides,” he said, later adding, “The fact that all of her aides went free is a thing that I have a hard time justifying because somebody knew — maybe she didn’t, maybe she has an excuse — but somebody was feeding her highly, highly classified information knowing full well what they were doing.”
While the FBI decided not to indict Clinton over the email scandal, Ganyard explained that in the military, “it can generally be a career-ender to divulge classified information or mishandle it.” But more than anything, Ganyard said he is distressed over “the military being pulled into a very politicized, bitterly politicized, campaign,” and urged the military to “rise above partisan politics.”
“The military has to step back and say, these are politicians, there are other people, but you’re in the military, you’re there to support and defend the constitution. You’re going to be held to a higher standard — not only in your conduct, but in the eyes of the American people,” he said.
This week’s podcast episode also featured Micah Cohen, political editor of FiveThirtyEight, who discussed the tightening poll numbers between Clinton and Trump.
Although Trump “has not been the disaster that I thought he would be,” Cohen said both Trump and Clinton are “problematic” candidates.
“Look, Hillary Clinton herself is a really problematic candidate, the most unpopular nominee in modern presidential election history — except for Donald Trump,” he explained. Cohen estimated that Trump currently has about a 30 percent chance of winning the general election in November.
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