Media reports often like to describe news as “unprecedented,” when in fact, on closer inspection, we find that similar events occurred in the past. It is tempting to suppose that the remarkable public distrust shown between US President-Elect, Donald Trump, and the US intelligence community, is not too different from times past, when US spy agencies also attracted the scorn of presidents. Perhaps all that is new today is that a president-elect’s suspicion about intelligence is now playing publicly, on Twitter, for all to see, rather than behind closed doors.
However, even for those who are historically minded, inclined to see today’s world through a lens of the past, Donald Trump’s relationship with US intelligence already seems historically bad. Even before taking office, Trump has won the race to the bottom in an inglorious line of poor relations between the White House and its intelligence agencies. Indeed, relations are now so poor that US intelligence agencies may soon come to have a better relationship with their UK counterparts than with Trump.