Politics

Donald Trump was ‘fact free’ during briefings, former National Intelligence Director alleges

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that former President Donald Trump went “fact free” during intelligence briefings. Clapper, who primarily served under Barack Obama and shortly under Trump, added that Trump was prone to “fly off on tangents.” 

Clapper made the claims in “Getting to Know the President,” a new CIA-sanctioned history, written by retired spy John L. Helgerson.

Clapper added that he thought the president “could be courteous, affable and complimentary of the IC [intelligence community],” but says he was shaky on facts. “Clapper recalled,” Helgerson wrote, “Trump was prone to ‘fly off on tangents; there might be eight or nine minutes of real intelligence in an hour’s discussion.’ The irreconcilable difference, in Clapper’s view, was that the IC worked with evidence. Trump ‘was fact-free – evidence doesn’t cut it with him.’”

Clapper, who only served under Trump during the transition, has since accused Trump of “ignorance or disrespect” when he fired FBI Director James Comey and of being a “Russian asset.” He added that it was “pretty damn scary” that Trump had access to nuclear codes. 

Trump received a total of 14 briefings during the 10-week transition period, some of which were given in the Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. Trump also received three briefings during the holiday period at his Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida, which he often called the “Winter White House” or the “Southern White House.”

Career CIA analyst who frequently briefed the former president, Ted Gistaro, said that Trump was not much of a reader, and instead he preferred to talk about intelligence information in broad strokes. “He touched it [the briefing dossier]. He doesn’t really read anything,” Gistaro commented to Helgerson. Clapper agreed, adding: “Trump doesn’t read much; he likes bullets.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CHICAGO TRIBUNE

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