Donald Trump is being slammed for a viral report claiming he refuses to pay attention to intelligence briefings, even though they are filled with pictures and other visuals meant to keep the interest of the notoriously short attention-spanned president.
The report from Time claimed that intelligence officials have grown frustrated at the “willful ignorance” of Trump in regard to the intelligence agencies. The outlet spoke to analysts who prepare intelligence briefs for Trump and some of the presenters themselves who say it is nearly impossible to keep Trump’s attention, even though they keep reports to just a few sentences and make sure to insert Trump’s name as frequently as possible.
They also added that Trump grows enraged if he hears information that goes against his own public positions.
“What is most troubling, say these officials and others in government and on Capitol Hill who have been briefed on the episodes, are Trump’s angry reactions when he is given information that contradicts positions he has taken or beliefs he holds,” the report noted. “Two intelligence officers even reported that they have been warned to avoid giving the president intelligence assessments that contradict stances he has taken in public.”
The report has generated a strong backlash against Donald Trump, with many seizing on the report to slam what they saw as a major risk to national security due to the president’s inability to pay attention to critical briefings.
The phrase “willful ignorance” captures an important truth about Trump. It also captures a truth about those of his defenders and enablers who should know better. https://t.co/Fi27jHEMxa
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 2, 2019
Very disturbing to hear that the president is even ignoring the new hand-puppet unit established by the CIA to make his briefings intelligible to him. Especially after the failure of the Lego unit. However, I understand that a new unit of briefer-strippers will be deployed soon.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) February 3, 2019
Others seized on critical details of the report, including Donald Trump’s ignorance of world issues and even basic geography. One intelligence official said Trump said he knew Nepal was part of India, but officials had to tell him that it was actually an independent nation. Trump made the same mistake with Bhutan, mistakenly believing that it was part of India rather than an independent kingdom.
"Trump pointed at the map and said he knew that Nepal was part of India, only to be told that it is an independent nation. When said he was familiar with Bhutan and knew it, too, was part of India, his briefers told him Bhutan was an independent kingdom" https://t.co/vuXhBUXFRQ
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) February 2, 2019
Donald Trump has frequently been criticized for his inability to focus on critical issues. During the record-long government shutdown, Trump was slammed for focusing more on Fox News and other right-wing media opinions than actually working with Democrats to make a deal that would end the shutdown.
“Wow. Too busy with Fox & Friends?” Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, wrote on Twitter.
Donald Trump himself has spoken about his preference for short, picture-filled briefings rather than the dense written reports given to his predecessors in the White House, once telling Axios, “I like bullets or I like as little as possible.”