President Donald Trump is an "avid consumer" of the CIA's reports, and threats to the nation's security are always at the top of his mind, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in an interview airing Saturday.
"President Trump is incredibly demanding of the intelligence community, asks incredibly difficult questions," the CIA director told talk show host Hugh Hewitt, whose first show for MSNBC aired early Saturday. "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."
Trump's early months in office were marked by his disagreements with the intelligence community, during which time he blamed the intelligence community for leaks, including those concerning former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
The tension grew more with his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, but Pompeo said he and the president meet frequently to discuss concerns.
The CIA director said he meets with Trump "nearly every day," and his meetings are set up for at least 35 minutes on the president's calendar, but usually last longer.
In comparison, Pompeo said that his predecessor, John Brennan, rarely met with former President Barack Obama, and delivered his reports "differently."
Trump is also very concerned with the continued reports concerning Russia and North Korea, Pompeo told Hewitt.
Russia has been making hacking attempts for years, said Pompeo, and the CIA has "heightened emphasis on our ability to stop" them.
However, he told Hewitt that media reports about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election are "flat out wrong," while commenting that it's still important that "Americans understand what Russians are doing."
Trump also asks frequent questions about North Korea, said Pompeo, and is especially concerned about the nation's nuclear threat.
"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 told Hewitt. "It’s very much at the top of his mind."
Pompeo did acknowledge that the CIA has suffered harmful information leaks over the years, but he believes with Trump, the intelligence community will be able to bring them under control.
"We and all of President Trump’s government are focused on stopping leaks," Pompeo said in the interview. He also said he trusts the CIA's agents as patriots who are "aimed at lawfully doing what it is the president directs them to do."
The interview aired after Pompeo came under fire this week by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, concerning the CIA's sharing information with Flynn after learning he could be subject to blackmail from Russia, according to a report in The New York Times.
"Either Director Pompeo had no idea what people in the CIA reportedly knew about Michael Flynn, or he knew about the Justice Department’s concerns and continued to discuss America's secrets with a man vulnerable to blackmail," Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said.
The CIA, though, would not say if Pompeo was aware of the concerns about Flynn, reports The Times, while quoting an anonymous administration official as saying the director did not relay such concerns to Trump.
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