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To Woo a Skeptical Trump, Intelligence Chiefs Talk Economics Instead of Spies


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   Negativity   66.00%
The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/03/us/politics/trump-daily-intelligence-briefing.html
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Summary

And they have filled the daily threat briefing with charts and graphs of economic data.In an effort to accommodate President Trump, who has attacked them publicly as “naïve” and in need of going “back to school,” the nation’s intelligence agencies have revamped their presentations to focus on subjects their No. 1 customer wants to hear about — economics and trade.Intelligence officers, steeped in how Mr. Trump views the world, now work to answer his repeated question: Who is winning? Bush also received such briefings daily.For 73 years, geopolitical trends, warnings and high-level gossip have been delivered to the White House regularly by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies in the form of what is today known as the President’s Daily Brief, or P.D.B. Once a thick binder of reports, the P.D.B. is now presented on a secure tablet computer and produced six days a week by officials at the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.On any given day, the briefers would describe terrorist threats in the Middle East, worry about the North Korean nuclear program or get the results of covert missions around the world.Some of what bores Mr. Trump in traditional intelligence briefings, according to former officials, are the detailed analyses of the activities and motivations of secondary foreign officials. It threatens to intimidate agencies into softening their analysis or not delivering information that the president needs to hear, he said.“The problem,” Mr. King said, “is the message sent to agencies: ‘Don’t tell me information I don’t want to hear.’”Mr. Trump’s skepticism of traditional intelligence stretches back to his untraditional path to the presidency, his campaign and his early days in the White House.Two weeks before Mr. Trump took office, the top intelligence chiefs — including the heads of the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. But that is not Trump.”While other presidents have frequently disagreed privately with their intelligence briefers, they did not challenge them publicly, said Michael Morell, a former top C.I.A. official who has briefed Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama.“Bush would say, ‘Michael, I don’t agree with what you are saying,’ then we would have a back and forth and we would discuss it,” said Mr. Morell, who now hosts the “Intelligence Matters” podcast.

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