US intelligence community 'struggled' to brief Trump in 2016, CIA review shows

The U.S. intelligence community “struggled” to brief former President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE in the weeks before he entered office, according to a newly published account of his transition released by the CIA’s academic center.

John Helgerson, a retired intelligence officer who wrote the chapter on Trump's transition in the CIA’s book on briefing presidents, wrote that Trump’s transition to the White House in late 2016 and early 2017 was “far and away the most difficult” experience the intelligence community (IC) had briefing new presidents.

Helgerson wrote that Trump “doubted the competence of intelligence professionals and felt no need for regular intelligence support.”

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He noted that Trump had publicly criticized the outgoing directors of national intelligence and the CIA and disparaged the intelligence agencies’ work and integrity, adding, “From the outset, it was clear that the IC was in for a difficult time.”

The new information on Trump’s relationship with the intelligence company comes from Helgerson’s 40-page history of the former president’s time in office, which is part of the CIA’s book “Getting to Know the President,” which documents the presidents’ relationships with intelligence community dating back to 1952.

Helgerson wrote that Trump, similar to former President Nixon, was “suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process,” but the two differed in how they acted.

Nixon shut the intelligence community out as president, while Trump “engaged with it” but also “attacked it publicly,” according to Helgerson.

He said the intelligence community’s system “worked” but “struggled” in achieving its two main goals for Trump: assisting the president-elect in becoming familiar with threats affecting the U.S. and its interests and establishing a relationship to show the incoming commander in chief how the intelligence community could help him carry out the responsibilities of the office.

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Helgerson also noted that while Trump’s demeanor during briefing sessions largely remained the same for some time — he was at one point in the report described as “pleasant and courteous” — he started lashing out at the intelligence community in public settings as it became more involved in political incidents that were connected to Trump, including the Steele dossier on his alleged links with Russia, which was said to have leaked from the intelligence community.

Trump, however, reportedly told the briefers at one of their sessions that “the nasty things he was saying” about the intelligence community “don’t apply to you,” according to Helgerson.

The new report also says that Trump did not fully review his presidential daily briefing. Career CIA analyst Ted Gistaro, who briefed Trump, said the former president “touched it” but “doesn’t really read anything.”

Former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperUS intelligence community 'struggled' to brief Trump in 2016, CIA review shows An unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Hillicon Valley — Justice Department takes on Uber MORE agreed with that assessment, telling Helgerson that “Trump doesn’t read much; he likes bullets.”

“Trump’s style was to listen to the key points, discuss them with some care, then lead the discussion to related issues and others further afield. This turned out to be the general model for PDB [presidential daily briefings] sessions,” Helgerson wrote.

Helgerson also write in the report that while Trump’s daily briefings were set to resume on Jan. 6 of this year, no meetings took place after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.