, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Does the president listen, receive and/or accept information & analysis from the intelligence community about foreign adversaries & world affairs? Two years into his presidency, the answer is complicated...
On the campaign trail, he openly questioned the assessment that the Russians were engaged in malicious cyber activity against the U.S., as evidenced by his statements in a presidential debate, as I discussed here: lawfareblog.com/why-doesnt-don…
Even back then, it was unclear whether he didn't believe the intelligence community about much of anything, or just about Russia:
By January 2018, the answer on the president's acceptance of intelligence was mixed. As I wrote here, it looked like he was receiving briefings, and absorbing some of them: lawfareblog.com/president-trum…
But, he continued to reject publicly the continued intelligence assessment on Russian cyber activities directed against the U.S., against a growing body of substantial evidence...
...the good part of that result is that it appeared he was listening to some informed advice & analysis, but rejecting all that was related to Russia, taking Putin's assurances over the informed assessments of US & allied intelligence...
...the recent shutdown over the border wall reveals an additional layer of complexity: The president portrayed the "wall," specifically, as a national security necessity, although the administration presented no analysis or evidence that it was...
...but he betrayed his national security justification as really just a political promise, here:
...enter the annual #WorldwideThreat briefing of the major intelligence chiefs, which took place yesterday: c-span.org/video/?457211-…
..the DNI's full written statement is here, and it highlights the threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, among others: dni.gov/files/ODNI/doc…
...as expected, it does not discuss the southern border as an emergency national security threat, nor did the intelligence chiefs' oral testimony...
this morning, the president tweeted that, at least as it relates to Iran, the intelligence community has it wrong:
...which is the latest example (North Korea, southern border) being others, of the president rejecting intelligence assessments of topics far broader than just Russian election interference...
..to be clear: as someone who spent years working with and within the intelligence community, it's not inappropriate for policymakers, including the president, to question and challenge intelligence assessments...
...and in fact, we want informed, independent thinkers in policy positions who do challenge the community....
...but there is something different going on here, the picture (after two long years) of which is emerging is that the head of the executive branch appears to make decisions on national security the basis of which is completely opaque...
...decisions about deployment of forces, withdrawals of military engagement, staying in or out of treaties, relationships w/allies, to name a few, are consequential decisions of national policy and exercises of national power upon which we have no idea upon which they are made...
...are these national security & foreign policy decisions based on personal financial interests? information obtained from tv shows? white house policy advisors? Or, are domestic political considerations the sole and only driving factor in this president's decision making? ...
...two years in, I'm not sure we yet know the answer. It may be all of the above.
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