Intelligence officials urge Congress not to hold threat hearings after enraging Trump last year

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Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence raised the issue during informal preliminary discussions with the committee's staff, the source said.

While these officials have made it clear that they do not want top intelligence officials to testify publicly, they have not formally refused to do so, the source added. The request is unlikely to be granted, several sources told CNN.

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House of Intelligence President Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, sent a letter to interim National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire on Wednesday, inviting him to publicly witness the February 12 worldwide threat audience, according to a copy of the document obtained by CNN.

The ODNI received the letter, a CNN spokesman confirmed on Thursday, but it is not yet clear whether Maguire will accept Schiff's invitation.

"We are continuing discussions with the committees about the timing and format of the World Threat Assessment hearings this year," the spokesman told CNN.

The annual threat report itself is also expected to be made public and there have been no discussions between intelligence officials and Capitol officials about a scenario where there will not be, the source familiar with the situation said.

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Politico was the first to report the push of intelligence agencies.

"This would be a particularly unfortunate time to cancel the threat hearing worldwide, with the American people more focused than ever in recent memory on an important set of intelligence questions: what was the Iranian threat Trump said that justified the murder of Soleimani, did Trump characterize this threat precisely in his public explanations and was this threat reduced by the murder? "said Joshua Geltzer, executive director and visiting professor of law at the Institute of Advocacy and Constitutional Protection at the University of Law Center. Georgetown.

"I feel the understandable reluctance of the intelligence community to avoid a confrontation with the same president who undermined the testimony given at this exact hearing last year, but it is precisely because we have a president who seems to play fast and loose with real intelligence that this rare audience listening is so vital right now, "he told CNN

Although the ODNI spokesperson does not provide details related to preliminary discussions between intelligence officials and committee officials, they provided some additional context related to last year's planning process.

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"I can also share about last year's World Threat Assessment that the ODNI issued its unclassified statement for registration and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee held an open hearing in January. Although we have not reached a mutual agreement for public testimony with the Permanent House Selected Intelligence Committee last year, the director of national intelligence and many other IC leaders held classified roundtable sessions with the committee, "the spokesman told CNN.

When pressed by Senate legislators during last year's hearing, Trump's chiefs of intelligence, including then-director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, seemed to contradict various claims made by the President to justify the fundamental principles of his foreign policy.

Trump punished his top intelligence officials the next day for being lenient with Iran, citing his testimony that there is no indication that Tehran is currently trying to develop a nuclear weapon and remained in compliance with the nuclear deal despite the US withdrawal.

"Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!" Trump tweeted at the time. "When I became president, Iran was causing problems throughout the Middle East and beyond. Since the end of Iran's terrible nuclear deal, they are VERY different, but they are a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets ( last week) and more. " , and are getting too close to the limit. Now the economy is collapsing, which is the only thing stopping them. Beware of Iran. Maybe intelligence should go back to school! "

CNN reported last January that Trump was boiling as he watched the highlights of his intelligence chiefs testifying at the Capitol and highlighting Coats by name. during a rant the day after the hearing.

The president was furious to see the headlines on television shout that the authorities had contradicted him. The Coats excerpts that North Korea "interrupted its provocative behavior related to its weapons of mass destruction program" but were unlikely to "completely abandon its nuclear weapons and its production capacity" irritated CNN.

Coats left office last August and was replaced by Maguire, who acts as an actor.

CNN's Kaitlin Collins contributed reporting.

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