President Donald Trump’s tweeting habit doesn’t just give him a direct line of communication with his followers — it also opens up an unfiltered view of his psyche to foreign intelligence services who are tasked with constructing psychological profiles of world leaders.
Writing in The Hill, former CIA Director Michael Hayden explains how much rival governments are learning about Trump’s patterns of behavior through his tweets — and they’re getting an up-close look at how he responds to high-pressure situations.
“The president’s Twitter tsunami must be a goldmine for foreign services (including friendly ones) in developing his profile,” he writes. “Press-able buttons, loyalties, exposed nerves, responses to pressure, even sleep habits are on pretty full display.”
In particular, Hayden notes that Trump’s assorted tweets about former FBI Director James Comey offer revealing insights that help rival governments game out Trump’s behavior.
“This last series of tweets on Comey and taping offered something more, certainly enough to tempt some services to conclude that the President bluffs and bends the truth to meet the needs of the moment,” he explains. “You can almost anticipate the language in the report: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you need to know that President Trump appears to be what the Americans call a bullshitter.'”
Despite the fact that Trump’s behavior in pressure situations is fairly predictable, Hayden warns that it could paradoxically have unpredictable consequences, as world leaders might feel free to ignore a Trump threat that turns out to be deadly serious.
“If a foreign leader has reason to believe that the president doesn’t mean what he says, that leader may choose to ignore it and — if he is right — he wins the hand, so to speak,” he writes. “If he is wrong, though, he could trigger American responses that both he and we would have preferred to avoid. Neither are good outcomes.”