U.S> President Donald Trump reportedly rarely reads his intelligence briefings and relies on friends, colleagues, and conservative news outlets to get his information, instead. According to the New York Times, when presented with intelligence reports, he prefers to focus on the pictures and graphs.
The news outlet interviewed nearly a dozen current and former intel officials, some of whom spoke on the record about Trump’s White House briefings.
According to those insiders, the president chooses not to read the briefings presented to him. Instead, he chats with people like Steven Wynn, a former Las Vegas casino tycoon, and conservative media executive Christopher Ruddy to get information.
“Mr. Trump rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him,” the Times wrote.
Reportedly, in meetings, Trump often goes off-topic and officials struggle to guide him back to the matter at hand. The report noted that he has a short attention span and will interrupt briefings to talk about “tips or gossip” that he has heard from his friends.
Briefings can apparently become adversarial, and Trump is known to have a distrust for intelligence agencies, which he sees as part of the so-called “deep state.”
“‘How do you know?’ is Mr. Trump’s common refrain,” the Times wrote. “He counters with his own statistics on issues where he has strong views, like trade or NATO. Directly challenging him, even when his numbers are wrong, appears to erode Mr. Trump’s trust, according to former officials, and ultimately he stops listening.”
Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that when he tried to correct the president, he would be ignored. Insiders said these corrections, in part, led to McMaster being replaced after 13 months in office.
Current White House officials said that to describe Trump as inattentive is inaccurate. Current national security adviser Rober C. O’Brien said that the president is “laser-focused” and asks numerous questions during the briefings.
The issue of whether or not Trump is attentive during the briefings came to a head recently after he was criticized for not initially taking reports of the coronavirus seriously enough. He has said that his intelligence team didn’t warn him of the danger the disease presented to the world, though insiders dispute his claim.