Intel officials 'struggled' to brief 'fact-free' Donald Trump during the 2016/2017 'transition': CIA

Intel officials 'struggled' to brief 'fact-free' Donald Trump during the 2016/2017 'transition': CIA

Although Barack and Michelle Obama were obviously disappointed with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, they did everything they could to help Donald Trump prepare for his presidency during that lame duck period — and that included matters pertaining to intelligence and national security. But it wasn’t easy. According to a new report from the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence, the intel community “struggled” to brief Trump during the late 2016/ early 2017 transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump Administration.

CNN’s Katie Bo Lillis reports, “Although Trump spent substantial time with briefers on a routine basis throughout the transition period, his free-wheeling style and deep mistrust of the intelligence community presented them with ‘greater challenges’ even than President-elect Richard Nixon, who blamed the CIA for his election loss in 1960 and cut the agency out as president, the history found. The 40-page narrative — a regular update to a CIA book on briefing presidents-elect written by a retired intelligence officer — offers only a few new details but confirms widely reported press accounts of the former president's approach to intelligence.”

The CIA’s report, Lillis notes, “offers an inside window into the intelligence community's struggle to adjust to a president who was ‘suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process’ and, in the words of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, prone to ‘fly off on tangents.’”

“The history reports that during the transition period, Trump was typically ‘pleasant and courteous’ during his briefings, which were given by career intelligence officers drawn from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the Department of State,” Lillis explains. “Together, the team of 14 briefers ‘comprised the largest and most organizationally diverse group of experts ever deployed for transition briefings of candidates and presidents-elect.’ Even later in his presidency, at moments when Trump was publicly expressing deep frustration with the intelligence community, ‘briefings continued as usual, and Trump's demeanor during the sessions remained the same,’ the history reports.”

According to the CIA, Clapper regarded Trump as low-information on intel matters.

The report quotes Clapper as saying that Trump “was fact-free — evidence doesn't cut it with him.”

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