The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Wednesday denied that the intelligence community withholds information from President Donald Trump, following a Wall Street Journal report that officials have sometimes left sensitive details out of his daily intelligence briefings.
“Any suggestion that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team is not true,” the ODNI said in a statement.
Citing unnamed current and former officials, the Wall Street Journal reported that intelligence officials have withheld some sensitive intelligence from Trump, including sources and methods. The officials told the newspaper that the information was withheld due to concerns it could be leaked or compromised in some way.
They officials also told the Journal that the intelligence community has not hid the ball from Trump on any security threats. Per the WSJ:
The officials emphasized that they know of no instance in which crucial information about security threats or potential plotting has been omitted.
Officials told the newspaper that while the intelligence community has withheld some information from other presidents in the past, in those cases officials were not concerned about trust.
For his part, Trump has reportedly requested very short intelligence briefings. Mother Jones obtained guidance from the White House showing that Trump’s daily reports typically contain information on just three topics, with one page for each. The intelligence memos Trump has asked for are shorter than those reviewed by past presidents, according to the report. The President has also asked for memos to include only the facts that back up the intelligence community’s analysis, and directs intelligence officials not to include multiple viewpoints in his briefings, per Mother Jones.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that intelligence agencies “have been told to dramatically pare down the president’s daily intelligence briefing, both the number of topics and how much information is described under each topic,” citing an unnamed official.
Reports about the content (or lack thereof) of Trump’s daily intelligence briefings comes as his administration deals with the messy aftermath of the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Flynn stepped down following reports that he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration. His resignation was followed by reports that Trump campaign aides had spoken with Russian officials before the election.
All those reports prompted calls for congressional probes into potential Trump administration ties to Russia, as well as a focus from some Republican lawmakers on leaks about calls between Trump associates and Russia.