Panetta: Trump Risks Blame For Any Attacks If He Skips Intel Briefings

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Former CIA director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that if President-elect Donald Trump refuses to receive regular intelligence briefings, he risks being blamed in the wake of any potential attack on the United States.

Panetta told the Arab Strategy Forum that he has “never seen” a president with Trump’s active aversion to intelligence briefings, according to Reuters.

“If we endure another attack and the intelligence officials had indications or information regarding that attack and the president did not want to listen to that, for whatever reason, the responsibility for that attack would fall on the president,” he said.

Panetta reportedly told the forum that Trump’s refusal of presidential intelligence briefings “can’t last.”

“I’ve seen presidents who have asked questions about whether that intelligence is verifiable, what are the sources for that intelligence, but I have never seen a president who said, ‘I don’t want that stuff,'” he said, as quoted by Reuters.

According to U.S. officials cited by Reuters, Trump receives one intelligence briefing per week on average, while Vice President-elect Mike Pence receives around six per week.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump argued that he is “a smart person” and suggested that sitting for intelligence briefings would mean he was being told “the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

President Barack Obama pushed back on that assumption in a Monday appearance on “The Daily Show,” where he said that any president who refuses daily intelligence briefings is “flying blind” as a result.

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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