A CIA analyst and spokesman for the National Security Council said he resigned from the intelligence agency last week because he cannot in "good faith" work under the Trump administration.
In an op-ed written for the Washington Post, Edward Price, who served under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said he started his career with the CIA nearly 15 years ago, but left the agency after what he viewed to be a number of slights by new President Donald Trump.
Price said he was reluctant to leave and said he didn't think anything would ever tear him away from his chosen career path. But he was pushed over the edge after Trump issued a directive reorganizing the National Security Council, which Price said he served on as a staff member from 2014 until earlier this year.
The directive didn't include a seat for the CIA director and the director of national intelligence on the Principals Committee — but added Stephen Bannon, former Breitbart news executive and current White House chief strategist, as a regular attendee of the Principals Committee and the National Security Council, according to Politico.
"The public outcry led the administration to reverse course and name the CIA director an NSC principal, but the White House's inclination was clear," Price wrote in the Feb. 20 article. "It has little need for intelligence professionals who, in speaking truth to power, might challenge the so-called 'America First' orthodoxy that sees Russia as an ally and Australia as a punching bag."
Price said the decision to leave the CIA wasn't easy — knowing his work influenced the decisions of presidents Bush and Obama was the greatest reward, he said. But President Trump's distrust of the 17 intelligence agencies on the campaign trail was disheartening to Price, and with Bannon's appointment, he felt he could no longer serve the agency.
The gulf between Trump and the intelligence community began during his campaign for president when he routinely criticized and expressed skepticism for the agencies.
After being elected, he frequently cast doubt on the findings of the 17 American intel agencies that determined Russia likely interfered with the U.S. presidential election.
Price wrote that he watched the third presidential debate in disbelief as Trump questioned the findings of the agencies in regards to Russia.
On Trump's first full day as president, he visited the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he addressed the agency in person for the first time.
In a speech that was criticized by some members of the intelligence community, Trump stood before the CIA Memorial Wall and gave a campaign-style speech, including jokes about how much he'd support the agency.
"And I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you've wanted, and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you're going to say, 'Please don't give us so much backing,'" Trump said.
Price said the speech was not what he and his colleagues had hoped to hear.
"I couldn't help but reflect on the stark contrast between the bombast of the new president and the quiet dedication of a mentor — a courageous, dedicated professional — who is memorialized on that wall. I know others at CIA felt similarly," he wrote.
Ten days before the speech — which former CIA Director John Brennan called "a despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA's Memorial Wall of Agency heroes" — Trump had compared the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany. The comment came after an unverified dossier alleging scandalous behavior by Trump in Russia was published by BuzzFeed.
"What intelligence professionals want most is to know that the fruits of their labor — sometimes at the risk of life or limb — are accorded due deference in the policymaking process," Price wrote. "Until that happens, President Trump and his team are doing another disservice to these dedicated men and women and the nation they proudly, if quietly, serve."