As speculation circulates as to the whether Donald Trump was informed about alleged Russian bounty payments for American troops in Afghanistan, or whether he missed the information, his press secretary has claimed he could not be better informed.
Asked at a White House media briefing whether the president is in fact regularly and comprehensively briefed by the intelligence services, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany retorted that the president is kept abreast of security threats to an unparalleled standard.
“The president does read,” said Ms McEnany, “and he also consumes intelligence verbally.”
“This president, I’ll tell you, is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats that we face.
“You have [national security adviser Robert] O’Brien, who sees him in person twice a day, who sometimes takes upwards of half a dozen calls with this president. He’s constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters.
“But I’m not going to allow the New York Times to dictate when we give top secret information and don’t give top secret information. That’s an untenable proposition.”
However, Ms McEnany’s defence of Mr Trump sits uneasily against the events of the last several days as the Russian bounties scandal unfolded. Earlier this week, she herself said the president had not received a briefing on the classified information shortly after he claimed he had spoken with “intel”.
And while there are now accounts claiming Mr Trump was briefed on the matter in February, it remains unclear whether that briefing was delivered verbally or in writing, and if so, whether the president actually listened to it or read it.
There have long been questions about whether Mr Trump does in fact read his Presidential Daily Briefing, which has been presented in varying forms to every president since Harry Truman requested it in 1946. Mr Trump has been reported to have little patience for reading it, with anonymous administration sources claiming he prefers a verbal briefing that he likewise often ignores.
And during the transition period after the election in 2016, Mr Trump told Fox News that he had declined to receive the daily briefing, preferring a weekly one. “I don’t have to be told,” he said. “You know, I’m, like, a smart person.”
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