Trump hails "best" relationship with N. Korea despite intel chiefs' nuclear assessment

By Emily Tillett

/ CBS News

Intel officials contradict Trump on threats

President Trump says that the U.S. relationship with North Korea is the "best it has ever been" just one day after his own intelligence chiefs testified on Capitol Hill that the regime is still seeking to maintain its nuclear arms.

"North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S. No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization…," Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. He added, "Time will tell what will happen with North Korea, but at the end of the previous administration, relationship was horrendous and very bad things were about to happen. Now a whole different story. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un shortly. Progress being made-big difference!"

…Time will tell what will happen with North Korea, but at the end of the previous administration, relationship was horrendous and very bad things were about to happen. Now a whole different story. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un shortly. Progress being made-big difference!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019

This comes after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee that the intelligence community had made "observations of some activity" in the region that were "inconsistent with full denuclearization" and that it was "unlikely" the regime would ever give up their nuclear weapons completely.

CIA Director Gina Haspel meanwhile said the agency's analysts likely "value the dialogue" emerging between North Korea and the U.S., but likewise indicated Kim's intention to denuclearize remained dubious.

The threat assessment compiled by the intelligence community also appeared to be at odds with much of Mr. Trump's foreign policy viewpoints, particularly his declaration that the U.S. has been victorious in its battle against ISIS in Syria. During Tuesday's hearing, both Haspel and Coats confirmed that the terrorist threat posed by ISIS would continue for "some time" and that the group still maintains thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Despite their testimony, Mr. Trump once again appeared to take credit for "tremendous progress made" in the fight against ISIS and was confident in their demise.

When I became President, ISIS was out of control in Syria & running rampant. Since then tremendous progress made, especially over last 5 weeks. Caliphate will soon be destroyed, unthinkable two years ago. Negotiating are proceeding well in Afghanistan after 18 years of fighting..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019

"Caliphate will soon be destroyed, unthinkable two years ago," he tweeted.

The president has remained relatively under the radar since the end of the 35-day government shutdown last week. With no public events on his schedule for the past three days, Mr. Trump has taken to Twitter to weigh in on news of the day.

CBS News' Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

First published on January 30, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

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