Trump Could Make U.S. 'Relive Iraq All Again' Over Refusal to Listen to Intelligence Leaders, Former CIA Agent Warns

Phil Mudd, the former deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, warned that President Donald Trump's disregard for the counsel of his intelligence agencies could lead the United States into another situation similar to the invasion of Iraq.

Mudd appeared on CNN Tuesday morning to discuss the suggestion from longtime Trump confidant Chris Ruddy that the president could sack National Intelligence Director Dan Coats after he publicly disagreed with Trump's assessment of North Korea. The former CIA agent warned that such an action from the president could send the country down a dangerous path.

"Let me be clear. We lived this already, and the American people said they hated it," he said, referring to the Iraq War. "There were questions during my tenure at the CIA about whether the CIA was too supportive of the president [George W. Bush] going into the Iraq War," he pointed out. "There ain't no learning in the second kick of the mule here.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats walks along the Rose Garden Colonnade before an event to mark the National Day of Prayer at the White House on May 3, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"So we're going again into North Korea and say we'd prefer that the intel guys support the president regardless of whether they agree with his position?" Mudd asked. "The intel guys are supposed to get out there and talk about the facts," he continued. "Do we want to relive Iraq all again? Speak the truth and let the truth fall where it may. That's what intel folks are supposed to do, that's what they did, and Dan Coats is gonna get fired for it," he warned.

On Monday, Ruddy told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he was "hearing from sources around the White House there's just general disappointment of the president with Director Coats." He suggested the administration believes there may need "to be a change of leadership in that position."

At the end of January, Coats, who was appointed by Trump, spoke at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, contradicting the president's optimistic position toward North Korea. Trump has repeatedly praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and plans a second face-to-face summit with the leader, saying he believes the Asian nation will fully denuclearize. Coats's assessment was starkly different.

"We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival," Coats said during the committee hearing. He added that the intelligence communities' assessment was "bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization."

President Donald Trump speaks with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats as he meets with members of the Chicago Cubs baseball team in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 2017 NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Coats, along with CIA Director Gina Haspel, also parted ways with the president in the assessment of Iran. They explained that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, had effectively curbed the Persian Gulf nation's nuclear program, despite Trump's decision to withdraw from the international agreement. Coats also warned that Iran may disregard the deal if it did not see the economic benefits it had been promised, which Trump's withdrawal and renewal of sanctions have threatened.

The next day, Trump slammed his intelligence leaders on Twitter, calling them "naive" and saying they should "go back to school." He later said: "I'm going to just go by my own counsel."

Senator Angus King, a Maine independent, also warned on Tuesday against the possibility of Trump removing Coats.

"If in fact Dan Coats is pushed out, which I deeply hope isn't the case because he's a great public servant, but if he is, the message is 'Don't give me the facts,'" King told CNN.