Officials and analysts worry intelligence coming in from other countries could start to dry up because of President Donald Trump's calls for a closer relationship with Russia and his outspoken style of communications.
"If there’s a sense that we’re cozying up to regimes like Vladimir Putin’s Russia, that could have something of a chilling effect," an unnamed senior official from former President Barack Obama’s administration told Politico. "The challenge may be in places like Germany, France, potentially even the United Kingdom. If there is a reorientation toward Moscow, there could be some doubts there."
Trump will visit the CIA headquarters Saturday, but in recent weeks has slammed the intelligence community because of leaks of reports concerning Russia, and there are concerns that he may ignore advice from the U.S. intelligence community.
Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, a frequent critic of Trump's during the election, said other countries share intelligence with the United States because they feel there will be a response, but that may stop if Trump rejects the intelligence community's reports.
“How many foreign intelligence agencies might say, 'I’m not sure giving this information to the Americans will do any good anyway. So why should we share it in the first place?’” Hayden said. “If they come to the conclusion that the decision-makers don’t pay attention to the intelligence and the intelligence community is not respected, then why take the risk?”
Meanwhile, European officials, when contacted by Politico, said it's too early in Trump's presidency to predict what he'll do, but said their communications could also depend on how operatives react to the new president.
"There is huge implicit trust between U.S. and British agencies, for example, that will not be easily undermined even by the arrival of a new president with unknown qualities," a senior European official said.
Thomas Sanderson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he is concerned because the nation's allies and intelligence partners don't want their sources or their own cooperation exposed, and may not trust what Trump will do with the intelligence revealed.
"Trump does not have the sophistication nor does he exhibit the respect for the intelligence community to give me or other people confidence that he won’t make a mistake like that," Sanderson told Politico.
Most intelligence officers, though, aren't political appointees, but are career employees. But if Trump calls for more cooperation with Russia, they'll still have to follow his orders. Meanwhile, Trump often spoke well of Putin during his campaign while strongly criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies.
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