Republican President-elect Donald Trump is facing increasing scrutiny for blowing-off security and intelligence briefings that are considered the highest privilege and top secret. Apparently, Trump is believed to have had just four intelligence briefings till date, a number that’s way less than any of his predecessors.
Donald Trump appears to have made a habit of skipping intelligence briefings. Immediately after the elections, President Barack Obama had ordered the top national security officials to extend the information he currently receives every day, to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. It was expected that the briefings would help the duo get up to speed, and they would be prepared and armed with tactile information come January 20.
Trump on Fox News Sunday says he doesn't need daily intelligence briefings as POTUS because he's "smart" pic.twitter.com/OUiKqj8qjV— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) December 11, 2016
As ordered, a team of intelligence analysts “has been prepared to deliver daily briefings on global developments and security threats to Trump,” reported the Washington Post. However, the Republican president-elect has blown them off with alarming alacrity. As of this week, Donald Trump has reportedly sat through just four of these security and intelligence briefings. It has been about a month since the elections. Simple math will indicate that Trump has attended about one briefing per week since Election Day.
Incidentally, a president-elect need not avail of these security briefings. These briefings aren’t mandatory. However, it goes without saying that these briefings can certainly help the president-elect immensely. Similar to every nation, the United States has to protect itself, and be prepared with an adequate response should its foreign assets or allies are threatened. While a majority of the threats might not be imminent or may even cease to be considered threats in the future, a president-elect can certainly benefit from knowing about what he might have to deal with, within a few short weeks from Election Day.
This absenteeism is perplexing owing to multiple aspects about the president-elect, noted experts. Donald Trump is one of the least experienced presidents-elect in the nation’s history. Before he began his campaign, Trump has always been a businessman first. While his business acumen can’t be refuted, the same may not hold true for his political abilities.
Trump voters, does this seem like a legit reason for skipping intelligence briefings? Does it inspire confidence? pic.twitter.com/VIpy3joXmz— Sean Kent (@seankent) December 11, 2016
Interestingly, as recently as 2014, Donald Trump appeared very interested in these very security briefings. However, his interest was geared towards claiming President Obama’s alleged absenteeism. A year before launching his presidential campaign, Trump appeared concerned and convinced that Obama regularly skipped the national-security briefings. He alleged through Twitter that Obama wasn’t taking these intelligence briefings as seriously as he should.
Fact--Obama does not read his intelligence briefings nor does he get briefed in person by the CIA or DOD. Too busy I guess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2014
A little while later, Trump even flung random statistics about Obama’s attendance record at these briefings. The claims, in no way, reflected reality, reported MSNBC.
Obama has missed 58% of his intelligence briefings. But our president does make 100% of his fundraisers.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2014
With his grumblings about Obama allegedly skipping intelligence briefings so apparent, it is rather ironic that Donald Trump himself has skipped a large number of these secretive meetings. What’s equally surprising is Trump’s response when quizzed about his tardy attendance, reported Reuters. When Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked the Republican about his disinterest in receiving classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump said the following.
“Well, I get it when I need it. I don’t have to be told – you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years. It could be eight years – but eight years. I don’t need that.
“But I do say if something should change, let us know. Now, in the meantime, my generals are great, are being briefed. Mike Pence is being briefed, who is, by the way, one of my very good decisions. He’s terrific. And they’re being briefed. And I’m being briefed also.
“But if they’re going to come in and tell me the exact same thing that they told me, you know, that doesn’t change necessarily. There might be times where it might change. I mean, there will be some very fluid situations. I’ll be there not every day but more than that.
“But I don’t need to be told, Chris, the same thing every day, every morning, same words. ‘Sir, nothing has changed. Let’s go over it again.’ I don’t need that.”
Since Election Day, Donald Trump has attended more rallies (five) than the intelligence briefings (four). Experts stress that Trump must learn as much as possible during his transition period, especially about matters about national security.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]