The head of the CIA on Saturday pushed back on accusations the U.S. is not doing enough regarding Russia’s attempts to interfere in elections. CIA Director Mike Pomepo also said President Trump is an “avid consumer” of intelligence reports.
“I cannot imagine a statement that is any more false than one that would attribute President Trump of not being interested in the intelligence community. He is an avid consumer of the products the CIA provides,” Pompeo said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt that aired Saturday on MSNBC.
“I’m with the president nearly every day,” Pompeo said. According to the CIA chief, he has at least 35 minutes regularly on Trump’s calendar and the meetings usually run long. He said his predecessor managed his reports to former President Obama “differently” and rarely met with the former president.
“President Trump is incredibly demanding of the intelligence community, asks incredibly difficult questions,” according to Pompeo.
He said threats to U.S. national security are top of mind for the president.
The CIA has “heightened emphasis on our ability to stop” Russian hacking attempts in the face of recent threats, he said. Russians have been doing this for years, he added.
“It’s important that Americans understand what Russians are doing … to the extent we can declassify that information,” he said. Pompeo indicated that some media reports regarding Russian meddling in the election are “flat out wrong.”
Trump is also very concerned with pushing back on the nuclear threat represented by North Korea, Pompeo said.
“I hardly ever escape a day at the White House without the president asking me about North Korea and how America is going to respond,” he said. “It’s very much at the top of his mind.”
The interview, held at CIA headquarters, was Pompeo’s first media interview since his appointment as CIA chief.
During the interview, Pompeo also acknowledged that the CIA has faced harmful information leaks in recent years.
“There have been failures,” he said. “You have not only nation states trying to steal our stuff but … folks like Wikileaks.”
He went on to say that he believes under Trump, the intelligence community will be able to both stop and punish leaking.
“We and all of President Trump’s government are focused on stopping leaks,” he said.
He also emphasized that “I do” trust that the men and women who sign up to work at the CIA are patriots “aimed at lawfully doing what it is the president directs them to do.”