Bringing up Russian interference to President Donald Trump is apparently a very touchy subject — so touchy, in fact, that Trump’s own White House officials fear even broaching the topic during intelligence briefings.
The Washington Post reports that members of Trump’s National Security Council go out of their way to avoid mentioning Russia during meetings, as doing so will often set Trump off in a rage.
“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference — that takes the [president’s daily briefing] off the rails,” one former intelligence official tells the Post.
The Post’s sources say that Russia-related intelligence is sometimes slipped into the briefings, but only as written bullet points that aren’t part of any oral presentation. In rare cases where such intelligence is raised orally, the Post reports that “Trump’s main briefer — a veteran CIA analyst — adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.”
Trump’s anger at mentions of Russia during briefings is part of a larger pattern of the president denying that Russia did anything to influence his electoral victory in 2016. During a recent overseas trip, Trump seemed to signal that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that his country was not involved in any form.
“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,'” Trump said of Putin. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”