US intelligence community “struggled” to inform Trump, CIA study says


Although Trump spent a lot of time routinely briefing them throughout the transition period, his free style and deep distrust of the intelligence community presented them with “greater challenges” even than President-elect Richard Nixon, who blamed the CIA for his election. loss in 1960 and cut the agency off as president, history has found.

The 40-page account – a regular update to a CIA book on informing presidents-elect written by a retired intelligence officer – offers only a few new details but largely confirms press accounts broadcast on the former president’s approach to intelligence.

It offers an inside window into the intelligence community’s struggle to adjust to a president who was “suspicious and insecure of the intelligence process” and, in the words of former director of national intelligence James Clapper, inclined to “to fly on tangents”. And he tells how, at every turn, the relationship between the new president and the intelligence community has been undermined by the political imbroglio arising from the Trump campaign’s alleged relationship with Russia.

“Thinking back to the Trump transition, it must be concluded that the IC has achieved only limited success with what had always been its two fundamental objectives with the information process: to help the president-elect familiarize himself with the developments foreigners and threats affecting American interests he would have to deal with once in office; and to establish a relationship with the new president and his team in which they understood how they could rely on the intelligence community to help them fulfill their responsibilities, ”the story goes.

“The system worked, but it struggled. “

History reports that during the transition period, Trump was generally “pleasant and courteous” during his briefings, which were given by career intelligence officers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, Defense. Intelligence Agency, FBI and Department of State. Together, the team of 14 briefers “comprised the largest and most organizationally diverse group of experts ever deployed for transition briefings for candidates and presidents-elect.”

Even later in his presidency, at times when Trump publicly expressed his deep frustration with the intelligence community, “the briefings continued as usual and Trump’s behavior during the sessions remained. the same, ”the story reports.

But as the intelligence community was embroiled in the great political dramas surrounding Trump – in particular, public fury over a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer containing allegedly compromising information about the president-elect which, according to Trump, had been leaked by the IC – he’s increasingly lashing out at the intelligence community in public.

According to a previously unreported anecdote, Trump during his second pre-election briefing on September 2, 2016 assured his briefers that “the nasty things he said publicly about the intelligence community” do not apply to you. ”

“Trump was like Nixon, suspicious and insecure of the intelligence process, but unlike Nixon in the way he reacted,” the story reads. “Rather than shutting down the IC, Trump engaged with it, but attacked it publicly.”

Clapper says Trump was ‘without facts’

History also confirms a myriad of press accounts of Trump’s dissociative style during intelligence briefings.

“The irreconcilable difference, in Clapper’s opinion, was that the CI was working with evidence,” according to the story. “Trump ‘was without facts – the evidence doesn’t cut him off,” according to Clapper.

Trump rarely, if at all, read the classified daily briefing prepared for him during the transition, according to the senior intelligence analyst responsible for briefing the president-elect.

“He touched it. He really doesn’t read anything,” quotes the story Ted Gistaro, the CIA career analyst recruited for the job. Yet, as usual, the intelligence community adapted the briefing book to the new president, reducing the number and length of articles. Former Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told briefers to “look at the cards”. Clapper agreed with Gistaro, saying “Trump doesn’t read a lot, he likes balls.”

Trump would “listen to the key points, discuss them with some care, and then lead the discussion to related issues and others beyond,” according to the story.

Unlike previous presidents-elect – and some members of his own national security team – Trump himself only received information about the CIA’s covert action programs several weeks after his inauguration. History calls this chain of events a “significant departure from how briefings were handled in the previous two transitions,” but offers no explanation.

The story focuses primarily on Trump’s time as a candidate and president-elect, and only briefly covers his dealings with the intelligence community during his presidency. He reports that after the 2020 election, Trump’s “PDB” – his daily presidential briefing – only continued for a while.

Trump typically received the PDB twice a week during his tenure. He was due to resume the APB reception on January 6 after a vacation break, the story reveals. But according to an interview with Beth Sanner, Trump’s regular briefer, none were planned after the assault on the U.S. Capitol that took place that day.

The story also provides insight into briefings given to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, recounting a pre-election intelligence briefing given to Clinton at the FBI field office in White Plains, New York, in August of the same year.

“Considering everything Clinton went through regarding her handling of personal email during the campaign, Gistaro regretted that the first question the security guard asked Clinton as she approached the room was whether she had cell phones with her, “the story goes. “The secretary very professionally assured the caller that she had left her cell phones at home.


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