Former US intel official says Trump would often push back in briefings

Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon, who resigned in August, said Tuesday that President Trump frequently expressed doubt in response to his intelligence briefings.

Speaking to the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, Gordon said Trump had two frequent responses during briefings, CNN reported.

“The one is ‘I’m not sure I believe that,'” Gordon said, according to CNN. “And the other is the second-order and third-order effects. ‘Why is that true? Why are we there? Why is this what you believe? Why do we do that?’ Those sorts of things.”

Gordon implied that briefing the president frequently left intelligence officials unsure of where else he was receiving information that may have contributed to his doubt.

“Remember, intelligence is fundamentally a craft of uncertainty and of possibility, so that doesn’t put you off. It’s trying to catch up to how you adjudicate the sources that led him to believe that and how you respond to it,” she said.

Trump, she added, “is probably the first president that arrived with no framework and a world that has massively available information with infinite people offering opinion that ofttimes sound the same but in fact are grittier because they are — they don’t have to have the same standard.”

Because of the president’s business background, “we were scrambling a bit to try and produce intelligence that was foundationally useful for someone who is interested in making trades and deals,” she said.

However, Gordon said that she found the president was “actually kind of a fun brief because he was interactive” and “he would challenge you,” CNN reported.  

The Hill has reached out to the White House about the former official’s remarks.

Gordon, who served within the intelligence community for more than three decades, left the administration shortly after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stepped down over the summer.

As the deputy director of the office at the time, Gordon was expected to be fill the role. However, The Hill reported that the White House had been weighing removing Gordon in favor of tapping a Trump loyalist.

In a note accompanying her resignation letter, Gordon implied she left to clear the way for a Trump loyalist after Coats and Trump were frequently at odds over Russian interference in the 2016 election.

During her remarks Tuesday, Gordon also touched on the different ways other presidents would receive intelligence.

“President Obama was a reader and just voraciously consumed it. JFK wanted three-by-five cards in his pocket,” Gordon said. 

The mission, Gordon reportedly said, is “to figure out how to convey the information because it ultimately, that is what you are trying to do. You are trying to present information in a way that is both heard and then can be used.”

Aris Folley contributed.

Tags Dan Coats Donald Trump

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