Trump's 'Fact-Free' Approach Posed Great Challenge to Presidential Intel Briefings, CIA Says

© AP Photo / Alex BrandonPresident Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington
President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
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Donald Trump, who served as US president from 2017 to 2021, did not enjoy a particularly warm relationship with the American intelligence community. In a new CIA report, the Trump administration has been compared to that of the 37th US President, Richard Nixon.
Former US President Donald Trump and his "fact-free" approach to governing the US presented the intelligence community with one of the toughest challenges it has ever faced, according to a new CIA report on presidential intelligence briefings.
In the ninth chapter of the fourth edition of the CIA's "Getting to Know the President," Trump is branded as "a unique challenge," in part due to his lack of previous political experience before he was elected president, his chaotic style of governing, and reluctance to read extensive texts.
According to the report, Trump's presidential daily briefings – or PDBs – were limited to just two 45-minute sessions per week by the middle of his White House tenure. The former president, who notoriously preferred bullet points and illustrations to long reading, pushed for his PDBs to become shorter and clearer. The report says that on most days, his briefings would just be "three one-page items describing new developments abroad, plus brief updates of ongoing crises in the Middle East."
After the 6 January Capitol attack, which Trump was accused of inciting, the presidential intelligence briefings never resumed for the 45th President.

"Briefing Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, president-elect, and president during his first few weeks in office presented the Intelligence Community (IC) with greater challenges than it had faced since the Central Intelligence Agency attempted to provide similar support to President-elect Richard Nixon 48 years before," the CIA chapter reads.

The CIA report also scrutinises former Vice President Mike Pence who, in contrast, was "an assiduous, six-day-a-week reader." The report says that he would "sometimes ask leading questions during the president’s PDB sessions so the president would hear his concerns."
James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, said that Trump, who would sometimes praise intelligence officials for their service to the nation, was nevertheless prone to "fly off on tangents." He also added that there were times when there could be less than 10 minutes of "real intelligence" in an hour's discussion.

"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," the chapter concludes. "The system worked, but it struggled."

The 45th US President and intelligence community were often at odds, particularly when it came to Russia and allegations that it had "meddled" with the US 2016 presidential election. Trump repeatedly downplayed these allegations, despite the backlash; intelligence officials and many US politicians criticised the ex-president for "siding" with Russian President Vladimir Putin instead of his own intel agencies in 2018. Back then, Trump said he believed Putin's assertions that Moscow has never interfered in US affairs.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit via video link from the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.11.2021
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