Former Trump intelligence officials say they had trouble briefing him on Russia: report
Former Trump administration officials said President Trump’s national security advisers began limiting their briefing of the president on matters relating to Russia due to his frequent pushback on such assessments, CNN reported.
Former officials responsible for briefing Trump on national security issues said they found he frequently became angry when being presented with intelligence implicating Russia in political interference.
“The president has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn’t favorable to Russia,” a former senior national security staffer told the network.
To avoid such episodes, briefers often only included Russia-related material in the president’s written briefing materials, but later found that he frequently did not read the written material, the network reported.
While the briefers did not cease briefing Trump on Russia-related matters altogether, they made a calculation to only brief him on them when severe threats were involved, officials told CNN.
A former intelligence official told the network that briefers’ approach was “Never casually go in on Russia, decide when it’s differential …. Save it for when it matters.”
The report comes amid allegations that Russian intelligence officials offered Afghan militants bounties to kill coalition forces, including U.S. troops, and that the information was included in a February briefing. The president and White House officials have vocally pushed back on the reports that Trump was briefed on it, with Trump calling the intelligence itself a “hoax.”
“The president was not briefed because at the time of these allegations they were uncorroborated,” White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday. “The president’s career CIA briefer decided not to brief him because it was unverified intelligence … and knowing all the facts I know, I certainly support her decision.”
“Any thought that we wouldn’t brief him on something because it would anger him, I don’t even know how to respond to that question,” O’Brien added.
White House Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who took office in May, told CNN the report was “totally false.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House and Ratcliffe’s office for comment.