He has time for victory rallies. He has time to attack a union leader in Indiana on Twitter. He has time to meet with reality television producer Mark Burnett to plan a “big show” around his inauguration. He has time to talk with Matt Lauer and whine about Saturday Night Live and Alec Baldwin’s impression of him. He has time to remain an executive producer of The Apprentice. What he apparently doesn’t have time for are the highly classified presidential intelligence briefings. From CBS News:
Intelligence community officials have confirmed that president-elect Donald Trump has declined many of the daily intelligence briefings that have been offered to him, a Senate aide confirmed to CBS News’ Margaret Brennan. The Washington Post first reported that Mr. Trump was turning away intelligence briefings in the weeks after the election.
Two key Senate Democrats -- Ben Cardin of Maryland and Dianne Feinstein of California -- expressed dismay about this in an op-ed published Thursday by USA TODAY.
“Indeed, we find it particularly troubling that President-elect Trump has mostly declined to take the daily intelligence briefing. Presidents and presidents-elect going back decades have begun their day this way — understanding national security threats and opportunities, asking probing questions, and making tough decisions,” they wrote.
Reuters is confirming he only reads an average of one per week:
Although they are not required to, presidents-elect have in the past generally welcomed the opportunity to receive the President's Daily Brief (PDB), the most highly classified and closely held document in the government, on a regular basis.
It was not immediately clear why Trump has decided not to receive the intelligence briefings available to President Barack Obama more frequently, or whether that has made any difference in his presidential preparations.
We had another president who didn’t always read and act on intelligence briefings:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
Mike Pence has been reading intelligence briefings, but it is downright scary the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief isn’t personally reading these critical reports. It’s part of the job. Not doing so is utter incompetence.