The gulf between President-elect Donald Trump and U.S. intelligence agencies has grown so wide that the two camps can't even agree on the scheduled date of a briefing Trump is supposed to get about Russian hacking.
Trump said on Twitter it had been delayed till Friday; U.S. intelligence officials and other Obama administration officials say it was always scheduled for Friday. A senior U.S. intelligence official who was not toeing the official line told NBC News the Trump transition team was told it would happen "early this week," which might explain the confusion. But Sean Spicer, Trump's spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday it would be "later this week."
All of which would seem to add up to a mundane dispute, but the fact that it is playing out in public represents what is shaping up to be an extraordinary breach between Trump and the intelligence agencies he is poised to lead--one that threatens to expose rifts between Trump and Congressional Republicans.
In addition to the flap over the briefing, Trump doubled down on his skewering of U.S. intelligence officers Wednesday, appearing to grant more credibility to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange than to American spy agencies.
"Julian Assange said `a 14-year old could have hacked Podesta' — why was DNC so careless?" Trump said on Twitter. "Also said Russians did not give him the info!"
Trump was referring to Assange's dismissive comments about the U.S. conclusion that Russia was behind the hacking and leaking of Democratic information, including the emails of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chief. Assange, who lives in the Ecuadoran embassy in London to avoid extradition over a sexual assault charge, is widely loathed within the American national security establishment.