A classified memo was leaked to Mother Jones revealing that Trump’s Presidential Daily Brief is being made far shorter than the daily briefing President Obama received – about only a quarter of the length. Apparently, Trump doesn’t want a whole lot of information and prefers to just see bullet points on a topic, even on matters of national security.
Typically the briefing book contains reports on three topics and can range in length – depending on the president’s preferences and how intelligence analysts best think they can get information across to the president. President Obama’s report ranged anywhere from 12 to 14 pages – Trump prefers his to be around three.
The New York Times reported: “while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps.”
That’s not the only difference, though. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees Trump’s briefing, has been told to keep out any dissenting perspectives or conflicting views. President Obama’s PDB had no such restriction.
Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official, weighed in:
“These issues about the overall length of the book as well as whether there are going to be conflicting interpretations—that unfortunately sounds like…bowing to the reality of a president with a short attention span and little ability to deal with ambiguities.”
Either Trump himself ordered the change, or the intelligence community is just reacting to what Trump said when he was still a President-elect, saying he didn’t require daily intelligence briefings. He would routinely skip them and it was reported he only received a handful after several weeks since winning the election. Vice President Pence, however, has gone to the briefings almost every day.
“I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump said.
Even if he didn’t say it directly to the intelligence community, they got his message. Just before becoming president he again reiterated with Axios that he didn’t want things to be more than a page in length.
“I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.”
The President’s Daily Brief, as it’s referred to, provides a key update from around the world from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies – and contains the most closely guarded secrets in Washington. Even experienced politicians need to play catch up when becoming president as the extent of information is so new – they need to get as much information as possible in order to get a good handle on what’s going on. And, Trump doesn’t appear to want to do that. He says it’s because he’s a “smart person.”
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