President Donald Trump may not have spent his whole life in government or near national intelligence agencies, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t picked up in a hurry, according to CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
During a question-and-answer session at an appearance with the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday, Pompeo said that Trump understood intelligence briefings better than some lifelong intelligence veterans.
“I have seen 25-year intelligence professionals receive briefings. I would tell you that President Trump is the kind of recipient of our information at the same level that they are,” Pompeo told host Marc A. Theissen.
“He has the grounding for him to be able to grasp this information in a way that he can ask sophisticated questions that then lead to important policy discussions,” he continued.
“We’ll be sitting in a National Security Council meeting talking about a particular topic, and he’ll bring up something that I briefed him on weeks or months ago. It could be that he knew that before that.
“I’m going to take full credit for having been the source of that knowledge, but I’ve seen this time and time again,” Pompeo added.
“So it’s not simply the case that this is an exercise. He’s using it. He’s taking it on board, and I’m confident that our team is delivering in a way that’s delivering value to the president and to not just him, but to our senior policymakers as well.”
If there’s anyone who would know this, it’s Pompeo. A former Kansas representative before being tapped to head the CIA by Trump, Pompeo served on the House Intelligence Committee as well as the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
When asked what kind of “consumer of intelligence” the president was, Pompeo was equally laudatory.
“The president asks hard questions. He’s deeply engaged,” Pompeo said.
“We’ll have rambunctious back and forth, all aimed at making sure we’re delivering him the truth as best we understand it. He’ll ask questions from time to time that we frankly don’t have the answer to. We didn’t bring it, or we just — weren’t as complete as we need it to be. We’ll go back and within a couple of hours deliver that information as best we can.
“It is a process — the process that we go through with the president each day is a process that it is my hope every senior policymaker is doing with the various briefers that we have throughout the administration. I hope they’re all consuming the information that we’re delivering. We spend a lot of money on it in the same way that the president does.”
He added that Trump takes his intelligence briefing in person “near daily,” in contrast to former President Barack Obama, who did so less than half the time.
The full talk, for those of you who are interested, is here:
This take, of course, stands in stark contrast to the general take in the media — and hyped by hacks like author Michael Wolff — which is that the president would rather spend his time watching The Gorilla Channel™ than actually being president or listening to intelligence reports.
Of course, that narrative will get 10 times more play in the media than what Pompeo said, but the truth is the truth — and, one hopes, it will eventually get out there.
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