U.S. President Donald Trump grew so angry at intelligence briefings that warned about national security threats from Russia that the staff delivering the president’s daily brief started briefing him less often on these threats, a new report claimed.
Citing multiple Trump administration officials who delivered the verbal daily briefing to the president, CNN reported that Trump put up strong resistance to hearing any negative news about Russia. The news comes amid a controversy over whether Trump was personally briefed on intelligence showing that Russia was offering cash bounties to Taliban-connected militants who killed U.S. service members.
Multiple reports claimed that Trump was briefed on the intelligence as far back as a year ago but did nothing to act on the reports. The White House claimed that Trump was not personally briefed about the alleged bounty program.
A new report indicates that briefers may have avoided telling the president directly. CNN reporter Jim Sciutto, citing multiple sources he contacted for an upcoming book on the Trump administration, said that Trump was known to grow so angry at hearing any negative news about Russia that senior intelligence officials made a rule for briefers never to lead with news about Russia.
“Early in his term, Trump’s briefers discovered that when his oral briefing included intelligence related to Russia’s malign activities against the United States, including evidence of its interference in US politics, Trump would often blow up at them, demanding to know why they kept focusing on Russia and often questioning the intelligence itself, multiple former administration officials said,” the report noted.
The report went on to say that while they reduced any negative news about Russia in verbal briefings of the president, this information was still added to the written briefing book delivered to the president each day. As CNN and multiple previous reports have noted, Trump was known within the White House not to read these reports.
Trump has also been criticized for what many see as a too-cozy relationship with Russia, often refusing to accept the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the goal of helping to get Trump elected. Trump has met and spoken regularly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he has reportedly taken great lengths to keep the matter of those discussions private.
The president now maintains that the story regarding intelligence about Russian bounties is untrue, suggesting that the New York Times may have fabricated the story.