Assessments of President Donald Trump in any future history of the U.S. intelligence Community (IC) will differ dramatically from those of any of his predecessors.  While Trump made little use of the IC to inform or implement policy, he abused and ignored it incessantly.  The closest precedent is Richard Nixon.  Yet Nixon reserved his scorn largely for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and kept it private.  Trump is an equal-opportunity abuser and rages publicly.  The IC struggled mightily to recover from the Nixon years.  The same can be said for the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and the flawed National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The damage done by Trump and his enablers may prove irreparable.  He gauged the IC according to its service to his own, not the national, interests.  Because intelligence professionals refused to politicize their estimates, Trump politicized their leadership.  If there is a silver lining, it is the potential for a better and more accountable institution to emerge.  Achieving that outcome won’t be easy, however, and it will take precious time.

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