Facing criticism about the number of intelligence briefings he has received, President-elect Trump pushed back with the notion that he does not need to be informed by daily reports from the U.S. intelligence community.
In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, Trump explained his stance:
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don’t need that,” Trump said. “But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know.’”
For the last several weeks, news has surfaced about the small number of intelligence briefings Trump has allowed in his schedule. According to a report by Reuters, Trump is averaging around one briefing a week, which is far less than his predecessors. However, soon to be Vice President Pence has been making time each day for a briefing.
Ironically, Trump incorrectly blasted President Obama on Twitter for not attending intelligence meetings back in 2014.
Fact–Obama does not read his intelligence briefings nor does he get briefed in person by the CIA or DOD. Too busy I guess!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2014
NBC News notes that there was no evidence that Obama was skipping meetings. Trump was getting his information from a conservative group that Steve Bannon helped establish.
Refusing to have daily intel briefings is also an indication of the deepening chasm between the president-elect and the intelligence community.
Trump has frequently made dismissive statements regarding U.S. intelligence agencies indicating he does not trust the information they gather. In the last few days, Trump has been scornful of the CIA’s conclusion that Russia covertly interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Patrick Skinner, a former intelligence official who worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations, said Trump’s actions are unusual.
“Every administration has problems with some intelligence,” said Skinner. “But it really shouldn’t be public. The open disdain Trump has shown for the agencies is unprecedented.”
You can use the word “unprecedented” to describe quite a few things about President-elect Trump and the incoming administration. Hopefully, with the safety of the American people at stake, Trump and the intelligence community develop a functional, civil relationship.
[Politico] [Reuters] [NBC News] [Wired] [Photo courtesy AP via Financial Times]