Wallace: Trump shouldn't denigrate intelligence community

Story highlights

  • Tensions between Trump and the intelligence community have ratcheted up quickly
  • Wallace also remarked on the support that Julian Assange has been given by some Republicans
The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for the podcast.

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump's continued war of words with our nation's intelligence community presents a stark and troubling departure from the traditional role of the President of the United States, suggests Fox News's Chris Wallace.

"One of the things I've been talking about [is] how Trump, in his tweets, talks about the intelligence community and puts intelligence in quotes. You can't have that," Wallace told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Wallace, host of the Sunday news program "Fox News Sunday," spoke with Axelrod last week on the day the nation's intelligence chiefs briefed the President-elect on the report that tied Russia to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Wallace expressed his dismay over Trump's public campaign to malign the integrity of the intelligence community.
    "You can't have the president denigrating the 17 [intelligence] agencies of patriots who risk their lives in many cases to try to give them the best information to make decisions," Wallace argued.
    Tensions between Trump and the intelligence community ratcheted up quickly following last week's meeting after it was learned that the intelligence chiefs presented the President-elect with a two-page synopsis of unverified reports claiming the Russians had obtained compromising personal and financial information about him.
    In a news conference on Wednesday, Trump aligned himself for the first time with the intelligence community by acknowledging that Russia was responsible for the hacking ahead of the election.
    But Trump again revealed his apparent distrust of the intelligence agencies by expressing his deep anger with the leak of the unverified intelligence report. The President-elect suggested on Twitter Wednesday that the intelligence community may have been responsible for the leak in order to take what he says was "one last shot" at him. "Are we living in Nazi Germany," Trump then asked.
    Wallace also remarked on the platform and support that Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks, has been given by some Republicans -- notably from Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin -- as he criticizes the intelligence community and adamantly denies their assessment that Russia was the source of the Democratic Party emails his organization published during the campaign.
    "I think that the embrace of Assange by conservatives has been disgraceful," Wallace said. "People forget who this guy was."
    Just last week, Assange defended himself in an extended sit-down interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, a vocal Trump supporter and an anchor on the channel. While Hannity has in the past accused Assange and his organization of "waging war against the US," he lauded the WikiLeaks founder for publishing the contents of the hacked emails.
    "America owes you a debt of gratitude," Hannity told Assange in a radio interview last month.
    During the hour-long conversation, Wallace also addressed the debate on Capitol Hill over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As congressional Republicans work to fashion a health care plan to come soon after they fulfill their long-held promise to repeal the law, Wallace suggested they proceed with caution or pay a political price.
    "If they repeal it, they're going to own it," he said. "And if they start taking away the good parts of Obamacare, they're going to pay a huge political price on it."
    But Wallace argued that a portion of blame for this legislative dilemma must be placed on the Obama administration, which he feels could have done more to win bipartisan support for the health care law, which passed with no Republican votes.
    Allowing that he wasn't in the room for the negotiations and therefore was not privy to every detail, Wallace maintained that, "as a pretty close observer, it looked to me like you could have done more" to gain Republican backing.
    "Because it became such a political issue," Wallace continued, "now you've got the possibility that it's going to be largely undone as a political issue, which I think is terribly sad."
    To hear the whole conversation with Wallace, which also covered his views on the state of the news media and the potential changes coming to the White House Briefing Room during the Trump administration, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.