In a recent interview with Fox News reporter Chris Wallace, President-Elect Donald Trump stated that he didn’t need to attend daily intelligence briefings because “he’s smart” and “doesn’t have to hear the same thing every single day.” The comments stunned not only Mr. Wallace but also the entire public, because daily briefings are traditionally a critical part of national security operations in the country. Why Mr. Trump feels he doesn’t need to attend these briefings is puzzling, because every president in recent years has depended on them to provide current information to avoid potential terrorist attacks.
The presidential daily brief, or PDB, is an official compilation of information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the general U.S. intelligence community. It is a “top secret” document that is produced by the Director of National Intelligence to provide the latest in international intelligence of sensitive situations that could impact the United States. It provides detailed intelligence analysis on an ongoing basis to help the President and other agencies make the decisions that affect the security of the nation.
Presidential briefings give up-to-date data on current situations around the world that involve American interests both domestically and overseas. They can help to alert the President of impending terrorist activities, such as the DPB during President George W. Bush’s administration that warned of Osama bin Laden’s interest in attacking the United States a few months prior to the attack on the Twin Towers on 9-11. Although Mr. Trump may find much of the information uninformative and repetitive, the data can change quickly and could warn of an immediate threat to the U.S.
Instead of attending all the briefings, Trump has requested that national security agencies let him know when something changes, and that he’s available at any time to discuss any new developments. Those familiar with the briefings note that the data can change radically from day to day, and the president-elect’s lack of interest could have the effect of leaving the nation open to attack. Meanwhile, the supporters of the President-Elect assure any doubters that his superior skills will provide the necessary monitoring against terrorism that the nation needs.
Whether the longer schedule of attending presidential briefings will be sufficient to monitor the critical details that could affect the safety of American citizens is in serious question. Many national security experts hope that once the administration is well under way, the President-Elect will find more time to attend to this important facet of the job.