Trump claims great progress on ISIS, North Korea after intelligence officials present less optimistic view

(Jacquelyn Martin | The Associated Press) President Donald Trump waves as he walks through the Colonnade from the Oval Office of the White House on arrival to announce a deal to temporarily reopen the government, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

Washington • President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed “tremendous progress” in destroying the Islamic State and denuclearizing North Korea, a day after U.S. intelligence chiefs offered congressional testimony at odds with his rosy assessments on multiple global threats.

In his tweets, Trump wrote that when he became president, the Islamic State “was out of control in Syria & running rampant.”

"Since then, tremendous progress made, especially over last 5 weeks," the president wrote. "Caliphate will soon be destroyed, unthinkable two years ago."

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, officials warned that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was capable of attacking the United States and painted a picture of a still-formidable terrorist organization. Trump previously declared the group defeated and has said he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as a result.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats noted that the terrorist group has suffered "significant leadership and territorial losses." But it still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, he said, and maintains eight branches, has more than a dozen networks and attracts thousands of supporters around the world.

Coats was on a panel of top Trump administration intelligence officials who appeared before the Senate panel Tuesday to share assessments on an array of national security challenges. Others included CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

In his tweets, Trump also sought to defend progress on North Korea ahead of a planned second summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

During Tuesday's hearing, Coats said that North Korea was "unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities," which the country's leaders consider "critical to the regime's survival."

"North Korea relationship is best it has ever been with U.S.," Trump wrote Wednesday. "No testing, getting remains, hostages returned. Decent chance of Denuclearization."

"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," Trump added, noting that he was looking forward to the summit with Kim.

Though exuberant in his claims of progress, Trump's assessment on North Korea was tempered compared to his initial claims after the first summit in June.

In tweets upon returning from that meeting, Trump declared America's "biggest and most dangerous problem" all but resolved. The deal he struck with Kim, he said, meant there was "no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea," and "everybody can now feel much safer."

The first summit ended with a vague agreement that contained few concrete goals and deadlines.