Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for Counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, compared President Donald Trump's mistakes around the coronavirus crisis to the warnings ignored ahead of Sept. 11, 2001 when Al-Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Towers.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace noted that it was obvious to anyone reading the press in China or Europe that the coronavirus was coming to the United States and would kill thousands.
"Where does the White House think they have any leg to stand on in, sort of, shrugging their shoulders and saying, 'Who knew?' They knew," asked Wallace.
"So the fact that you were hearing from former associates [and] sources this same thing can you imagine the level of detail that was being presented in the President's Daily Briefing?" asked Figliuzzi. "Look, in my career I have signed off on those components that came from the FBI that made it to the PDB. It's a big deal. Senior analysts are up all night drafting components for the brief. The director of the agencies sign off. The DNI signs off. By the time something gets to the president's desk, it has been vetted and gone over with a fine-tooth comb and some of the most sensitive information there is."
He went on to say that some people are asking what the connection is between intelligence agencies and health reporting, but he explained that it's "the strongest and most confirmed information you can get," because it's coming from electronic sources and people on the ground.
"So, I don't know what's worse, Nicolle, a president of the United States who's ignoring and not even reading his PDB or one who's reading it and completely ignoring the reporting," he concluded.
Wallace noted that there were reports from years ago that said that Trump never paid attention to his PDB but presumably someone on the White House team is reading them.
"Right, so when all is said and done, you made the analogy to 9/11 -- I'm having some flashbacks now to 9/11," Figliuzzi continued. "If you were in the intel community before 9/11 you knew the chatter was there, everyone knew the chatter was there among Al Qaeda [that] something big was about to happen. There are too many people who know about this, by the time it gets to the PDB and when we do an action report, these PDBs don't disappear."
He said that he would be issuing a preservation order for further study about the actions taken. He specifically wanted to know which details were true and which were not. Was Trump warned in the briefing? How many times? Was it 10 or 12 as the Washington Post report said.
"It's a no-brainer for the president to come out and stop all of this discussion, time-out, I'm releasing the unclassified parts of this PDB," suggested Figliuzzi. But he explained he doesn't see it happening. "the smartest thing they could do right now. Absent that, the distrust of anything coming out of the white house is going to remain."