Officials put Trump's name in 'as many memo paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned'

Tactic among a number developed to keep easily distracted President focused on important information

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 17 May 2017 14:03 BST
President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Donald Trump can only stay focused on intelligence reports if his name is in them, according to officials close to him.

Staff members are being forced to strategically include the President's name in the reports to ensure that he keeps reading and doesn't get distracted, they said. National Security Council officials make sure "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned", they told Reuters.

The trick is part of a range of techniques developed by officials to keep Mr Trump's infamously short attention span focused on important information.

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Officials have also learnt to keep all reports to a single page, and to include as many pictures, maps, charts and graphs as possible.

The President also likes to look at a map of wherever he is reading about, officials said.

"He likes to visualize things," said a senior administration official. "The guy's a builder. He has spent his whole life looking at architectural renderings and floor plans."

The details emerged as people close to the President worried that he may not be able to stick to the script and avoid more problems as he heads out on his first foreign trip. Officials are worried that Mr Trump's lack of focus and attention to detail could cause problems as he visits Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Israel and the West Bank, the pope at the Vatican, NATO leaders in Brussels and G7 counterparts in Sicily.

One Republican official, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, said after meeting Trump recently he did not think the president had a firm enough grasp on the nuances of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I don't think he understands it," said the official, adding that Mr Trump needed more detailed briefings before leaving on Friday. "I think it's a very difficult challenge and I hope he's going to talk to a lot of smart people."

Mr Trump's supporters hope that trip could be an opportunity to put scandals like the firing of James Comey behind him and to launch new diplomatic relationships.

The President's trip will see him visit the birthplace of Islam – a gesture apparently meant to show that he doesn't consider the religion to be an enemy of America, as some of his campagn rhetoric had suggested. But officials were worried that he may slip up during the meetings.

Aides are worried that Mr Trump could end up speaking off-the-cuff and ruin the meetings, said one official.

"It can backfire, I mean it can seriously backfire," the official said.

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to Bush, said that since the trip would be Trump's first overseas, the stakes were higher.

"The meaning and importance of his first trip abroad will be exaggerated, but it gives him a chance to get bipartisan accolades, or a chance to fail badly and have the failure exaggerated," Fleischer said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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