Originally published on March 1, 2021
The damage done to the U.S. intelligence community (IC) during the Trump administration was considerable but not irreparable, said House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). But, he added somewhat ominously, the IC’s reputational recovery will take time and significant bipartisan cooperation.
Schiff, who became a household name during the 2020 impeachment trial of former President Trump, was the guest speaker for the February 25 event “Face to Face with Adam Schiff,” a conversation between the chairman and former acting director of the CIA Michael Morell, a distinguished visiting professor at the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security which hosted the talk.
View a recording of the 72-minute discussion. More than 650 viewers on six continents registered to attend the discussion. The conversation is also available as a CBS News podcast, “Intelligence Matters with Michael Morell.”
“At some of the very highest levels of the IC, you had appointed officials who were, I think unquestionably, politicizing the intelligence,” Schiff said in describing some of the damage that will need to be addressed by the incoming administration.
Morell pointed out that some in the American public continue to believe in a “deep state” of operatives attempting to undermine freedoms and are wary of intelligence agencies. “Because of the actions and words of Donald Trump for four years, there are many Americans who supported him who now see the IC as this deep state, who see the IC not as the defender of America, but as an organization trying to undermine it,” he said.
“The agencies need to speak truth to power, whether that is power in the executive [branch] or power in Congress,” said Schiff. “I want you to tell me what your best analysis is, whether you think I want to hear it, or I don’t.”
Schar School fact: Security programs faculty include former CIA and NSA director Michael V. Hayden, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, former CIA acting director Michael Morell, former vice chair of the National Intelligence Council Ellen Laipson, and other notable professors.