Trump makes shocking comments about trusting Putin over US ‘intelligence lowlifes’

Donald Trump on Monday reiterated a belief that sent shockwaves through Washington in 2018 when he first famously described it while standing next to Vladimir Putin.

The former president was roundly denounced by both Republicans and Democrats at the time for denigrating the work of America’s intelligence community and in particular for taking the word of Russia’s president over his own director of national intelligence.

But on Monday he proved that his beliefs were changed little if at all by the wave of criticism he received at the time with a post describing members of the intelligence community, presumably including the CIA, NSA, FBI and cybersecurity agencies, as “lowlifes”.

“Remember in Helsinki when a 3rd rate reporter asked me, essentially, who I trusted more, President Putin of Russia, or our ‘Intelligence’ lowlifes[?]” wrote the former president on Truth Social in a Monday morning post.

He continued: “My instinct at the time was that we had really bad people in the form of James Comey, McCabe (whose wife was being helped out by Crooked Hillary while Crooked was under investigation!), Brennan, Peter Strzok (whose wife is at the SEC) & his lover, Lisa Page. Now add McGonigal & other slime to the list. Who would you choose, Putin or these Misfits?”

It’s an example of the kind of comment that will gin up excitement and agreement from Mr Trump’s hardcore base of supporters but will alienate potential allies in Washington as he pursues a third bid for the presidency.

Mr Trump is likely to face a cadre of Republican rivals for the 2024 GOP nomination including, potentially, former CIA director Mike Pompeo who could very well take issue with his former boss’s words during the campaign.

The former president was loathe to acknowledge the conclusion of US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — apparently on his behalf, or to Hillary Clinton’s detriment — throughout his four years in the White House.

The involvement of Russia in the election sparked a years-long and politically damaging investigation into Donald Trump and his inner circle, headed up by special counsel Robert Mueller of the Justice Department, which eventually resulted in no criminal charges for the president (though others were convicted of unrelated charges in the course of the probe).

Mr Trump has long held a grudge against the FBI and Justice Department for that reason, a feud which spilled back into vocal maligning of the agency’s personnel and mission last year after FBI agents raided his residence and resort at Mar-a-Lago and seized documents including materials marked classified which he had retained without permission.