- Susan Gordon, the former deputy director of national intelligence, at an event on Monday described unique challenges providing President Donald Trump with intelligence briefings.
- “I’m not sure I believe that,” Trump would frequently say, Gordon said at the event.
- Gordon resigned in August, after being passed over for the job of national intelligence director as Trump was believed to want a political loyalist for the role.
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Susan Gordon, the former deputy director of national intelligence, has said President Donald Trump would often push back during his daily intelligence briefing and express doubt over the evidence presented to him.
Gordon on Monday described her time working with the 45th president before her resignation in August.
She told a Women’s Foreign Policy Group meeting that Trump had two frequent responses when presented with information during the briefing.
“The one is, ‘I’m not sure I believe that,'” Gordon said, according to CNN.
“And the other is the second-order and third-order effects. ‘Why is that true? Why are we there? Why is this what you believe? Why do we do that?’ Those sorts of things.”
She suggested that one of the challenges for intelligence officials was figuring out where Trump was getting his information.
“Remember, intelligence is fundamentally a craft of uncertainty and of possibility, so that doesn’t put you off,” she remarked of Trump’s scepticism.
“It’s trying to catch up to how you adjudicate the sources that led him to believe that and how you respond to it.”
Another thing she said made briefing Trump different from briefing other presidents was his lack of a framework for understanding the intelligence being presented to him.
Gordon said he was the first president “in my experience that had no foundation or framework to understand what the limits of intelligence are, what the purpose of it was, and the way that we discuss it.”
She went on to compare briefing Trump to “playing pickup basketball with one runner.”
She continued: “Right, everyone else knows how the game moves and plays and you have one person that comes in and plays and is just so different. That that in of itself is just so different.”
Trump “asked different questions, he pursued the different – he had different trusts,” she said.
She said that unlike other presidents Trump was chiefly focused on trade and economics.
Trump “is much more economic in the way that he sees the word, and the intelligence community traditional is much more political, military, purposely so,” Gordon said.
“We were scrambling a bit to try and produce intelligence that was foundationally useful for someone who is interested in making trades and deals.”
Gordon said she found working with Trump to be “actually kind of a fun brief because he was interactive, he would challenge you.”
Gordon had been expected to take over from Dan Coats when he announced earlier in the year that he was stepping down as national intelligence director. Coats had clashed with the president’s assertions that North Korea had frozen its nuclear weapons program and with his doubts that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Reports indicated Trump had sought a political loyalist for the role who could rein in the intelligence services.
Joseph Maguire, a former Navy vice admiral, is now the acting chief of US intelligence services.