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Trump hoarded gossip on world leaders he didn’t like including Trudeau, Merkel and Macron, report says

Insiders claim Trump perked up when personal details about his counterparts were mentioned in intelligence briefings

Johanna Chisholm
Friday 02 September 2022 15:50 BST
Trump says FBI spread documents at Mar-a-Lago on floor in 'messy fashion'

Donald Trump relished collecting personal details about fellow world leaders during his time as president, according to a new report.

Insiders tell the New York Times that during intelligence briefings, the otherwise-bored commander-in-chief would perk up when security agencies relayed the innermost details they had gleaned about the lives of Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s then-chancellor Angela Merkel.

“But the details of broader national security policies bored him,” reporters wrote, citing officials who had been present at the time of intelligence briefings.

The Times report about the ex-president’s fascination with classified materials on his allies and foes arrives as he is facing an onslaught of scrutiny for his handling of hundreds of documents uncovered at his Florida home which had been transferred there after he left office.

Reporters note how the former president’s voracious appetite for receiving “titillating” intel about his fellow world leaders came from a place of wanting to deepen his ties with autocrats like China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

As for America’s declared allies, such as Germany’s Ms Merkel or Canada’s Mr Trudeau, Mr Trump reportedly preferred to keep information on them so that he could use it as “leverage” against the leaders who he’d taken a personal dislike to.

One pointed example of this, recently uncovered byRolling Stone, which the Times also referenced, was Mr Trump’s fascination with bragging about having top secret information about his French counterpart’s love life, information he’d reportedly received through some of these intelligence briefings.

“Item 1a” on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s list of documents seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate was revealed this week to be “info re: President of France”. Rolling Stone said that the ex-president, both during and after leaving the White House, would often boast to close associates that he knew illicit details about Mr Macron.

The details of the inner workings of Mr Trump’s handling of top-secret information while having the nuclear codes at his fingertips comes from a series of interviews conducted by the Times with several former officials, many of whom asked for anonymity out of concern for the ongoing Justice Department investigation or because they feared being on the receiving end of “Mr. Trump’s mercurial temper”.

The officials who briefed the Times also noted how they’d sometimes witness the then-president grab a document from a classified briefing or on the rare occasion request a document from the National Security Council. They emphasised, however, that these requests could not have tallied up to the hundreds of pages uncovered by FBI agents from Mar-a-Lago.

For his part, Mr Trump has flatly accused the FBI and Justice Department of staging the now infamous evidence photo of documents found at his Florida estate. He has also baselessly claimed that the materials found in the dozens of boxes of his resort’s basement had been personally “declassified”.

The Trump legal team is also working to appoint a special master to review the seized documents, a request that is currently under consideration by a Florida judge.

At the hearing in Palm Beach on Thursday, US District Judge Aileen Cannon appeared to be sympathetic to the request, but during the proceedings declined to issue a ruling immediately on the matter.

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