Trump Keeps One Promise: Ignoring Intelligence Briefings

Donald Trump is softening or outright changing his positions on issues left and right at the moment (though I wouldn’t trust the flop any more than I did the flip), but he’s kept one promise: He’s ignoring the daily intelligence briefings prepared for him.

MichaelFlynn

President-elect Donald Trump has received two classified intelligence briefings since his surprise election victory earlier this month, a frequency that is notably lower — at least so far — than that of his predecessors, current and former U.S. officials said.

A team of intelligence analysts has been prepared to deliver daily briefings on global developments and security threats to Trump in the two weeks since he won. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, by contrast, has set aside time for intelligence briefings almost every day since the election, officials said.

Officials involved in the Trump transition team cautioned against assigning any significance to the briefing schedule that the president-elect has set so far, noting that he has been immersed in the work of forming his administration, and has made filling key national security posts his top priority.

But others have interpreted Trump’s limited engagement with his briefing team as an additional sign of indifference from a president-elect who has no meaningful experience on national security issues and was dismissive of U.S. intelligence agencies’ capabilities and findings during the campaign.

Indeed he was. In August, he flat-out said that he didn’t trust the intelligence services and would not use them as a source of information. That fits perfectly with his astonishingly arrogant and ridiculous claim that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. That’s the kind of hubris and dismissal of expertise that could result on massive, global-scale screwups during a Trump administration. Trump is abysmally ignorant about foreign policy and national security issues as it is. He needs all the help he can get.

But I suspect there’s something else going on here as well. His national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and there is a constant rivalry between the various intelligence agencies (DIA, CIA, NSA). They love to badmouth one another and pretend that they’re the only ones that really know what’s going on. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Flynn was pitching that bullshit story to Trump and he swallowed it hook, line and sinker and went off half-cocked in an interview the next day and said he didn’t trust the intelligence agencies. That would also fit with his longstanding pattern of repeating whatever he was told by the last person he spoke to.

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