Among all of the discussion about the Russian involvement in getting Trump elected, one item hasn’t yet received much play in the press.
He also indicated that, as president, he would not take the daily intelligence briefing that President Obama and his predecessors have received. Mr. Trump, who has received the briefing sparingly as president-elect, said that it was often repetitive and that he would take it “when I need it.” He said his vice president, Mike Pence, would receive the daily briefing.
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” he said. He added that he had instructed the officials who give the briefing: “‘If something should change from this point, immediately call me. I’m available on a one-minute’s notice.’”
A man who didn’t even know that Russia had already invaded the Ukraine is a man who needs more information, not less. The President’s Daily Brief has, in one form or another, been given to the President and other relevant Executive Branch personnel since 1961. That’s over half of a century.
The purpose of the briefing is to give the Commander-in-Chief a synopsis of important intelligence events, including updates on previous intelligence releases. We can actually look at PDBs from several administrations at the CIA. I’ve looked at several. They’re not large, they don’t take much time, and they all contain something new, relevant, and important.
Trump’s disinterest in keeping up-to-date on important security information is the most profound abrogation of responsibility ever exhibited by a person about to take command of our nuclear codes and the combined might of our military.
Pence being given the PDB is not a sufficient replacement. No President has ever turned over their Commander-in-Chief responsibilities to their Vice President—not without being dead or completely incapacitated.
Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0