Intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to improve communication with Trump: report

U.S. intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how to better communicate information to President Trump in briefings after several instances where he has misspoken or forgotten key information, according to a Thursday report from The New York Times.

Maintaining Trump’s attention during briefings burned out his first briefer, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Edward Gistaro, officials told the Times. Gistaro was eventually replaced with current briefer Beth Sanner, a CIA analyst.

Intelligence officials told the Times that Trump becomes irritable when intelligence officials present information he doesn’t agree with or correct falsehoods he says publicly or privately.

Once he is irate, it is reportedly difficult for him to retain information. During the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling, any mention of the country could upset him and disrupt the briefing. 

“There was some venting, which at times made me a little bit frustrated,” Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence, told congressional investigators in 2017. “I thought it was taking away from him getting the intelligence he needed.”

Sanner has adopted a new form of briefing the president that involves a more relaxed, conversational approach, sources told the Times. 

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell told the Times, however, that the notion that Trump is difficult to brief is “flat wrong.”

“When you are there, you see a president questioning the assumptions and using the opportunity to broaden the discussion to include real-world perspectives,” Grenell said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but also disputed the premise of the story to the Times.

“The president is laser-focused on the issues at hand and asks probing questions throughout the briefings — it reminds me of appearing before a well-prepared appellate judge and defending the case,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told the Times in response to a request for comment.

Tags Dan Coats Donald Trump intelligence briefing

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