Speed Reads

Trump White House

Every president consumes classified intelligence differently. Here's how Trump gets briefed.

In a free-form White House, President Trump's daily intelligence briefing is a rare fixture, often going over the allotted time, The Washington Post reports, basing its profile of "Trump as a consumer of the nation's secrets" on interviews with "several senior administration officials who regularly attend his briefings." Most days, at about 10:30 a.m., "Trump sits behind the historic Resolute desk and, with a fresh Diet Coke fizzing and papers piled high, receives top-secret updates on the world's hot spots," the Post reports. "The president interrupts his briefers with questions but also with random asides. He asks that the top brass of the intelligence community be present, and he demands brevity."

Presidents have received daily intelligence briefings for some 50 years, but every president asks to receive classified intelligence differently. Trump has said publicly he prefers a single page of bullet points, maps, graphs, and other images, which aides say is a reflection of his background with real estate blueprints. CIA Director Mike Pompeo says intelligence analysts produce "killer graphics" for Trump because he likes to "get to the core of the issue quickly." Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, another Trump appointee, says that sometimes "pictures do say a thousand words." Trump's briefings are "a very oral, interactive discussion," Pompeo adds, and "he asks hard questions, which I think is the sign of a good intelligence consumer."

At the same time, The Washington Post says, "Trump consumes classified intelligence like he does most everything else in life: ravenously and impatiently, eager to ingest glinting nuggets but often indifferent to subtleties." Trump tells aides he takes the briefings very seriously, "yet there are signs that the president may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented, fully absorbing its nuance, or respecting the sensitivities of the information and how it was gathered." You can read more about Trump's intelligence consumption at The Washington Post.