U.S. Intelligence agencies have been forced to hire outside consultants to study how to present vital national security information to President Donald Trump in a way he will understand the data, The New York Times reports.
Trump, unlike most presidents, is infamous for not reading his daily briefing materials or even paying attention during his oral briefings, now just two or three days a week. But unlike most presidents, Trump prefers to rely on conversations he has with close friends instead of information collected by the nation's top spies and intelligence professionals.
"The president veers off on tangents and getting him back on topic is difficult," The Times adds, citing former intelligence officials. "He has a short attention span and rarely, if ever, reads intelligence reports, relying instead on conservative media and his friends for information. He is unashamed to interrupt intelligence officers and riff based on tips or gossip he hears from the former casino magnate Steve Wynn, the retired golfer Gary Player or Christopher Ruddy, the conservative media executive."
President Trump "rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him."
Trump's inability and lack of interest in understanding the forces that daily threaten America's 3.8 million square miles and nearly 330 million people was never more an issue than at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. To date, nearly 100,000 Americans have died from the virus.
Studies, including one released Wednesday, show that had President Trump acted just one week earlier, 36,000 lives would have been saved.
But Trump "has insisted that the intelligence agencies gave him inadequate warnings about the threat of the virus, describing it as 'not a big deal,'" The Times notes, referring to a January 23 briefing.
Trump blamed that questionable claim on "a C.I.A. analyst with three decades of experience." He also "ignored a host of warnings he received around that time from higher-ranking officials, epidemiologists, scientists, biodefense officials, other national security aides and the news media about the virus’s growing threat. Mr. Trump’s own health secretary had alerted him five days earlier to the potential seriousness of the virus."
Despite all the early warnings about the impending global pandemic, "Trump balked at further measures that might have slowed its spread."