Before Receiving His First Briefing, Trump Questions Intelligence Community
Just a day ahead of receiving his first intelligence briefing as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump expressed skepticism about the trustworthiness of U.S. intelligence.
Fox News’s Ainsley Earhardt asked Trump the question in Milwaukee on Tuesday night which aired Wednesday on Fox and Friends: “Do you trust intelligence?”
“Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country,” Trump responded. “I mean, look what’s happened over the last 10 years. … It’s been catastrophic.”
He expanded, pointing to the intelligence briefings that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the turmoil in the Middle East.
“I won’t use some of the [intelligence] people that are your standards … very easy to use them, but I won’t use them, because they’ve made such bad decisions,” he said. “You look at Iraq. You look at the Middle East. It’s a total powder keg. If we would have never touched it, it would have been a lot better.”
Trump will be joined New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and General Michael Flynn to the inaugural intelligence briefing.
Trump surrogate and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani agreed with Trump’s decision to bring in someone like Flynn because the general would be able to “ask critical questions.”
“If I were going to a national security briefing as a presidential candidate, and I’ve had top security clearances as associate attorney general, U.S. attorney, even as mayor during Sept. 11 in particular, I would take one or two experts with me to critically analyze it,” Giuliani said.
When asked why he chose Flynn to join in for the briefing, Trump praised the General as a “terrific guy” and someone who feels the same as he does about immigration.
“I think he’s a great guy. I’ve gotten to know him. He’s been a real fan of mine and defender of mine and he’s a terrific guy, a terrific general—tough, smart. Feels like I do about illegal immigration, in particular,” Trump told Earhardt in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
“He wants to make sure the right people are coming into our country, not the people that we’re probably taking in right now. We don’t even know who we’re taking in. I mean, we have people coming into our country, we have no idea who they are, where they come from, and he’s somebody that I believe in,” he continued.
The briefings are a scaled back version of what President Obama receives on a daily basis, and include classified information.
The intelligence briefings come amid some expansion and overhaul in the Trump campaign, as they announced the promotion of lead adviser Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager, and bringing in Breitbart News Chairman Stephen Bannon as campaign chief executive, both of whom support the mantra of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s “Let Trump be Trump.