Can President Donald J. Trump be trusted with some of America’s most sensitive secrets?
That’s a question that top officials in the U.S. intelligence community have to wrestle with as the Trump Administration takes control of the nation’s military and diplomatic machinery, one of the country’s foremost experts on Russia says in an exclusive interview on McMinnville public radio WCPI 91.3.
Dr. Mark N. Katz, professor at George Mason University and a fellow of the prestigious Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center, described the already strained relationship between the American spymasters and Trump, who has tweeted disparaging and dismissive remarks about U.S. intelligence agencies.
“If they don’t trust him they may pull their punches in what they feel they can tell him. Or maybe they will talk to other people they trust more, the vice president, the secretary of defense, or the secretary of state,” Katz told WCPI volunteer producer Bill Zechman in a one-on-one conversation. Earlier in the day, Katz parleyed with the editorial board of The Tennessean newspaper and later addressed a committee of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
Asked point-blank if the top intelligence officials would feel safe sharing national security secrets with the new president and possibly endangering key information assets, Katz replied, “They can’t risk it [if] they fear he would reveal it” to the Russians. “I think it’s going to be a very uncomfortable relationship if he [Trump] feels he knows more than they.”
The half-hour interview explores other areas of US-Russian relations, including Trump’s often-expressed admiration for his counterpart, President Vladimir Putin. The recorded conversation also looks at Russia’s hacking of and interference in the U.S. presidential election. Seventeen U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies agree the Russian employed the internet and fake news to tip the election Trump’s favor, but there is less consensus on whether the foreign activities had substantial impact on the electoral outcome.
Also spotlighted in the interview was the unverified — and possibly unverifiable — claim from a retired British spy that the Russians had compromising information on Trump in the style of Soviet-era “kompromat.” A two-page synopsis of the original 35-page dossier was attached to official presidential security briefings given last week to Trump and outgoing President Barack Obama.
The Katz interview will air Friday at 11:05 a.m. and 11:10 p.m. on 91.3 FM.