- Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon at an event on Monday laid out the unique challenges of 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 sought a political loyalist for the role.
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Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon has said that President Donald Trump would often push back during his daily intelligence briefing and express doubt over the evidence presented to him.
Gordon described her time working with the 45th president before her resignation in August at a Women’s Foreign Policy Group meeting on Monday.
She told the conference 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, reported 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.
Of Trump’s skepticism, she remarked “remember, intelligence is fundamentally a craft of uncertainty and of possibility, so that doesn’t put you off.
“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 that made briefing Trump different from other presidents was his lack of a framework for understanding the intelligence being presented to him.
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,” Gordon said.
She went on to compare briefing Trump as being “like playing pickup basketball with one runner. 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 that 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 stepped down as National Intelligence Director earlier in the year, with Coats having clashed with the president’s assertions that North Korea had frozen its nuclear weapons program, and his doubts that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
According to reports, Trump passed over Gordon for the role because he was instead seeking a political loyalist who could reign in the intelligence services.
Joseph Maguire, a former Navy vice admiral, is the current acting chief of US intelligence services.