Earlier Tuesday, former Republican presidential candidate John McCainJohn McCainMcCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote Overnight Healthcare: Trump pressures GOP ahead of vote | McConnell urges Senate to start debate | Cornyn floats conference on House, Senate bills | Thune sees progress on Medicaid MORE said he's "not too surprised" to learn that the president sat in on less than half of the briefings.

But the White House has defended the president, noting Obama is presented with intelligence briefing materials every morning.

"He gets it every day, okay?" White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday. "The President of the United States gets the presidential daily briefing every day. There is a document that he reads every day when he is not — well, he always reads it every day because he’s a voracious consumer of all of his briefing materials. And when he is physically here, most days he has a meeting in his office, the Oval one, with participants in his national security team."

Carney then offered to measure the president's national security record against that of the Bush administration.

"I believe if you compare our foreign policy record with the one that preceded this one, we’re comfortable with that comparison," Carney said. "And this president is very much steeped in the details of national security issues and the information that as president he received."