CIA releases detailed report about what it was like to give Trump infrequent 'presidential daily briefing'
Donald Trump speaks from the Oval Office (Photo: screen grab/CNN)

The CIA released the latest chapter of the ongoing history of Presidential briefings, Micah Zenko tweeted over the weekend. According to the information provided by the U.S. spy agency, Trump didn't much care about national security, while Vice President Mike Pence did the "daily briefing" six days a week. Previous reports cited anonymous sources, but the CIA report detailed the specifics on the record. The report went even deeper into what agents experienced, noting Trump's rants and other issues.

By the time that the 2020 election rolled around, Beth Sanner was the one briefing Trump. The so-called PDB, "Presidential Daily Briefing," actually only took place twice a week under Trump and lasted about 45 minutes, with the overwhelming majority involving Trump's ranting.

"Even during times when President Trump publicly expressed great irritation with the IC—most notably in 2019 when an IC employee filed a whistle-blower complaint concerning the president's efforts to have Ukraine investigate a political opponent, Joe Biden—briefings continued as usual and Trump' s demeanor during the sessions remained the same," said the report. "After the 2020 election, PDB briefings also continued for a period of time. When Sanner briefed the president before he went to Mar-a-Lago for the holidays, he commented that he would see her later. The briefings were to resume on 6 January but none were scheduled after the attack on the Capitol."

By contrast, Pence so regularly held a "presidential daily briefing" that he had briefers to his home and gave them a commemorative medallion as a gift. They offered him a certificate of appreciation as he left office, the report continued.

The report also confessed that no briefing was as bad as Trump's other than Nixon.

"For the Intelligence Community, the Trump transition was far and away the most difficult in its historical experience with briefing new presidents. The only (and imperfect) analogy was the Nixon transition, when the president-elect effectively declined to work with the IC, electing, instead, to receive intelligence information through an intermediary, National Security Advisor-designate Henry Kissinger," the report also explained. "Trump was like Nixon, suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process, but unlike Nixon in the way he reacted. Rather than shut the IC out, Trump engaged with it, but attacked it publicly."

James Clapper also wrote in his book about Trump's inability to focus during briefings as a candidate. After taking over the White House, Clapper left and Trump brought in his own team.

"Clapper recalled, Trump was prone to 'fly off on tangents; there might be eight or nine minutes of real intelligence in an hour's discussion,'" the report recalled. "The irreconcilable difference, in Clapper's view, was that the IC worked with evidence. Trump 'was 'fact-free'—evidence doesn't cut it with him.'"

You can read the full chapter at the CIA's website.

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