Trump’s daily briefings often don’t include intelligence about Russia to avoid upsetting him

Donald Trump's temper sometimes leads intelligence experts to avoid briefing him on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Donald Trump’s temper sometimes leads intelligence experts to avoid briefing him on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump’s daily briefing is reportedly structured to avoid the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election in order to keep the president from derailing the meetings.
  • Sometimes intelligence on Russian interference is included in the written briefing but not in the oral briefing the president receives.
  • CIA Director Mike Pompeo has on occasion diminished his own agency’s findings on the matter.

According to current and former US officials, President Donald Trump’s daily briefing is designed to avoid making him angry, and often avoids the latest intelligence on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference – that takes the PDB off the rails,” one former senior U.S. intelligence official said, using an acronym for the president’s daily briefing.

Some US officials did not confirm to The Post whether Trump was receiving the latest intelligence on Russia, but several current and former members of the administration’s staff said Trump’s briefing sometimes buries the information about Russian meddling to make it easier for the president to handle, but at times is not even presented to him verbally.

Although a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Brian Hale, told The Post that the briefing is “written by senior-level, career intelligence officers,” and that it “always provides objective intelligence – including on Russia – to the president and his staff,” officials said that this intelligence is sometimes only included in the written briefing and is not communicated to the president orally.

Trump’s strong feelings about the election meddling issue have led to inconsistencies within intelligence agencies themselves. Mike Pompeo, the director of the CIA, has at times diminished the importance of his own agency’s findings on the matter, even though the CIA unequivocally stands by their reports.

While intelligence officials and agencies intentionally avoided addressing whether Russian interference affected the outcome of the 2016 election, Pompeo has stated that it did not.