The Slatest

Former CIA Head Quits Trump Transition Team as Intelligence Standoff Intensifies Over Russia

Former CIA director James Woolsey on Nov. 19, 2008, in Washington, D.C.

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Former CIA director James Woolsey resigned from the Trump transition team Thursday, as the president-elect’s dismissive attitude towards the U.S. intelligence agencies and reported plan to overhaul America’s intelligence infrastructure heightened tensions between the CIA and Trump. Woolsey, who served as head of the CIA under Bill Clinton, was a senior adviser to the transition team after joining the Trump campaign in September. When he signed on last year, Woolsey lauded the then-Republican candidate for his support for military spending and his judgment, saying the former reality TV star “seems willing to keep a secret and not to blab everything to the public and our opponents.” Despite his decades of experience, according to the Washington Post, Woolsey was increasingly sidelined by Trump and soon-to-be national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

From the Post:

[People close to Woolsey] said that Woolsey had grown increasingly uncomfortable lending his name and credibility to the transition team without being consulted. Woolsey was taken aback by this week’s reports that Trump is considering revamping the country’s intelligence framework, said these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly. … The person close to Woolsey described him as having chafed at Trump’s loose style on Twitter. They described Woolsey as a “very principled” diplomat who takes care to communicate the right message with just the right words.

“Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition. He wishes the President-Elect and his Administration great success in their time in office,” a spokesman for Woolsey said in a statement Wednesday.

Woolsey’s announcement comes amidst an increasingly tense standoff between the incoming administration and the intelligence community that continues to piece together the case that shows how and to what extent Russia meddled in the U.S. election. On Thursday, intelligence sources said they had identified the link between the Russian-backed hack of the DNC and WikiLeaks. “Those and other data points are at the heart of an unprecedented intelligence report being circulated in Washington this week that details the evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and catalogues other cyber operations by Moscow against U.S. election systems over the past nine years,” the Post reports. “The classified document, which officials said is over 50 pages, was delivered to President Obama on Thursday, and it is expected to be presented to Trump in New York on Friday by the nation’s top spy officials, including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and CIA Director John Brennan.”