Skimping on Intelligence

Trump doesn’t read his daily brief.

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump defied expectations and became the 45th President of the United States. Although he has only been in office for a little over a year, it is hard to go anywhere without hearing that he is the worst ever American president.

To add to all of Trump’s faults and failures, The Washington Post recently reported that the president doesn’t even read his President’s Daily Brief—a document put together by U.S. intelligence agencies from around the world that encompasses critical information.

For more than 60 years, U.S. presidents have received a daily brief. According to the CIA, President Harry S. Truman was the first to receive one of these briefs in 1946. Although this document was far less formal than today’s documents, it marked a change in the way that U.S. intelligence agencies communicated with the nation’s highest leaders.

Over the years, presidential briefs evolved greatly. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy requested that the document be clear and concise enough to fit in the president’s jacket pocket. In 2014, President Barack Obama requested that the document be delivered electronically rather than on paper.

According to The Washington Post, “Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day.”

Skipping out on daily briefs is not only lazy and careless but also detrimental to our country’s security. After all, the brief encompasses top secret information gathered from satellites, spies, and other forms of intelligence regarding the most pressing issues in the world.

U.S. intelligence veteran Barry Pavel, who served the past two administrations, told MPR News that over the decades, presidents have often considered the brief “a critical start to their day, where they have this exchange on these critical issues.” He added that it “gets them thinking about what’s going to happen that day, that month or that year.”

Given the significance of these findings, it is likely that Trump is missing out on key pieces of information, which could lead to a multitude of misfortune—ranging from a simple misunderstanding to a complex mistake. After all, there is no way to make an informed judgment, statement, or decision on a subject that one knows nothing about.

Apparently, Trump doesn’t like to read, though. He told The Washington Post that “reading long documents is a waste of time because he absorbs the gist of an issue very quickly.” In Trump’s words: “There’s no reason to do hundreds of pages because I know exactly what it is.”

One thing that Trump does read, however, is content concerning himself. According to the Post, “Trump’s desk is piled high with magazines, nearly all of them with himself on their covers, and each morning, he reviews a pile of printouts of news articles about himself that his secretary delivers to his desk. But there are no shelves of books in his office, no computer on his desk.”

In addition to reading magazines and articles about himself, Trump has also read a number of books about himself. In 2009, he filed a $5 billion lawsuit against Timothy O’Brien for calling him a millionaire instead of a billionaire in his book, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald.” More recently, Trump threatened to sue Michael Wolff, author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a book that represents Trump as unstable and unfit to be president.

With the way that Trump governs, many have wondered if he even read the constitution. The fact that he refuses to read even his daily briefs, however, is absolutely absurd. Clearly, the president of the United States is not doing his job, and frankly, the people of this country should be concerned.

In a final contradictory statement from Trump, he said in a recent interview that he does not watch much TV. His reasoning? He is “too busy reading documents.”