President-elect Donald Trump has made news over the last few weeks, becoming the only president-elect to reject daily briefings by the intelligence agencies on national security threats. Instead, Trump is recieving them about once a week. The result, according to CNN’s intelligence sources, is that the incoming commander-in-chief is flying blind.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Donald Trump said that he doesn’t need the daily briefing because, “I’m, like, a really smart person.” Author David Priess served in both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations “as an award-winning intelligence officer, manager, and daily intelligence briefer at the CIA as well as a desk officer at the State Department,” according to his website. He concludes that these briefings aren’t about whether someone is smart or stupid, it’s about being informed.
“The briefings can’t be taken in isolation,” Priess explained to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “It’s a steady stream of intelligence information that’s constantly updating stories around the world. So, a briefing now and then or reading the daily book of secrets now and then doesn’t give the president-elect a full picture of what intelligence can do for him. It’s a steady stream that updates him on situations with new and different information. Not about how smart he is. It’s about getting the information he needs to make those decisions.”
Counterterrorism analysist Philip Mudd explained that Trump’s reluctance to pay attention to intelligence briefings is worrisome, not necessarily because of what has happened but what can happen.
“Look at the situations the president-elect is going to have to deal with in coming months and years,” Mudd said. “Intelligence about whether Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement, that president-elect has been so critical of, determining Russian complicity in attacks on civilians in Syria. That’s an issue that would be briefed this morning, I would say, if the president-elect were taking a briefing. There’s an offensive in Aleppo. What are the Russians doing?”
Mudd argued that Washington, D.C. is a city where “information is power,” and he’s concerned because “we do not have access to the individual who makes decisions for the executive branch. This is huge, especially after 15 years of president Obama and formerly President Bush, who gave great access to the CIA.”
He continued, explaining that such a briefing isn’t just about intelligence, both information and the smarts to interpret it.
“By the way, president-elect Trump talked about being a smart guy, he is a smart guy,” Mudd said. “This is about being an informed guy.”