Vice-president speaks out as agency chiefs prepare to brief president-elect on Russian election interference. The US vice-president, Joe Biden, has said it is “absolutely mindless” for Donald Trump not to have confidence in the intelligence community, as the heads of the US agencies prepared to present their findings on Russian election interference to the president-elect.
The unprecedented dispute between Trump and the intelligence services he will soon control broke into the open at a congressional hearing on Thursday as the head of US intelligence publicly defended his analysts, who he said “stand more resolutely” than ever behind their conclusion of “Russian interference in our electoral process”.
Biden said it would be legitimate to question intelligence and ask for more detail or disagree but “dangerous” to publicly criticise the agencies and claim to know more than them.
“For a president not to have confidence in, not to be prepared to listen to, the myriad intelligence agencies, from defence intelligence to the CIA, is absolutely mindless,” he said in an interview with PBS.
“The idea that you may know more than the intelligence community knows – it’s like saying I know more about physics than my professor. I didn’t read the book, I just know I know more.”
James Clapper, the departing director of national intelligence, and the heads of the CIA, NSA and FBI will brief Trump on Russian election interference in Trump Tower on Friday.
It is likely to be a highly charged meeting. The president-elect has publicly derided the agencies on the issue, and this week cited a denial by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks that his source for Democratic party emails released during the election was the Russian government or “a state party”.
Trump restated his doubts in a series of tweets on Thursday evening suggesting the FBI investigation was flawed.