CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTillerson may be out, but Trump is the State Department’s real problem Tillerson on reports of ouster: ‘It’s laughable’ Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump’s next secretary of State MORE said on Saturday that President Trump’s Twitter habits have actually helped his agency gather and understand intelligence.
Asked by Fox News’ Bret Baier in a panel discussion at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif., whether Trump’s propensity for Twitter complicated the CIA’s work, Pompeo demurred, saying that the agency has gathered important intelligence by observing how U.S. adversaries react to the president’s tweets.
“I’ve actually seen it help us,” he said. “I have seen things the president has put on his Twitter account actually have a real-world impact on our capacity to understand what’s going on in other places of the world.”
“That is, our adversaries responded to those tweets in ways that were helpful to us to understand command and control issues, who’s listening to what messages, how those messages are resonating around the world.”
Pompeo, a former Republican congressman, has served at the helm of the CIA since January and is said to be close to Trump, frequently delivering his daily intelligence briefings.
Trump’s Twitter account has been the subject of controversy, especially since he entered the White House.
His presence on the social media site came under scrutiny again this week after he re-tweeted three videos from a British ultranationalist group purporting to show Muslims committing acts of violence.
Those tweets sparked a public furor and drew the condemnation of British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose office said in a statement that “it is wrong for the president to have done this.”
Leon Panetta, a former Defense Secretary and CIA director, who joined Pompeo on the panel discussion on Saturday, likened the videos retweeted by Trump this week to videos of people burning copies of the Quran. He said those videos have sparked demonstrations at U.S. embassies in the past, and warned that the president’s tweets could have real-world consequences.
“The problem of tweeting an anti-Muslim video like that is once it goes out, what it does is it inflames the people that are out there,” Panetta said.
“And the problem is that lives can be jeopardized,” he added.