Defending intelligence pick, Mr Trump says US spy agencies 'run amok'

Mr Trump's choice of John Ratcliffe as the next director of national intelligence has been greeted with scant enthusiasm

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2019 US Representative John Ratcliffe, Republican of Texas, listens as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump's choice of a lawmaker with limited experience to oversee the massive US intelligence community has sparked concerns over the possible politicization of crucial national security decisions. Trump declared on July 30, 2019 that John Ratcliffe is "strong" and "talented", two days after announcing the Republican congressman as his pick to replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence, the person who coordinates the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community.

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US President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his choice for the next US spy chief as someone who could "rein in" intelligence agencies that "have run amok," fueling concerns Mr Trump seeks assessments that support his own views.

Mr Trump's choice of Republican Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas as the next director of national intelligence, has been greeted with scant enthusiasm by his fellow Republicans and charges by former intelligence officials and Democrats that he is unqualified and will frame intelligence to suit the president.

Mr Ratcliffe, a member of the House Intelligence Committee for six months, would replace Dan Coats, whose judgments on Iran, North Korea and Russia's interference in the 2016 elections clashed with Trump's views, earning the president's disdain.

Returning to the White House from an appearance in Virginia, Mr Trump on Tuesday said Mr Ratcliffe "is going to do an incredible job, if he gets approved" by the Senate.

"I think we need somebody like that in there," he continued. "We need somebody strong that can rein it in. Because, as I think you've all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok. They have run amok."

Mr Trump denied he had a "conflict" with Mr Coats, saying he was "a friend of mine" and a "terrific person." But, he added, "Dan made statements and they were a little confused."

Mr Trump repeatedly has criticised the US intelligence community since taking office, questioning its conclusions that Russia's election interference was aimed at boosting Mr Trump's candidacy over that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mr Coats has defended the assessment, while Mr Ratcliffe has denied there was evidence of Russian interference, accused the FBI of pursuing a biased investigation and echoed Trump's baseless charge that the Obama administration spied on his campaign.

In January, Mr Trump attacked Mr Coats and other intelligence agency chiefs on Twitter after they told Congress that Iran was adhering to the 2015 pact designed to block its development of a nuclear bomb and North Korea was unlikely to comply with Mr Trump's demand that it eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

Asked about Mr Trump's comments, Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an email that, "The men and women of our intelligence community deserve our thanks and support, not more baseless attacks."

"It's striking how the president so often seems completely incapable of viewing matters of intelligence and national security through any lens but his own political wellbeing," Mr Warner added.