White House press secretary insists that Trump 'does read' and 'is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face'

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  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that President Donald Trump "is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face."
  • She also insisted that Trump "does read" the daily classified book of important intelligence on threats and opportunities known as the President's Daily Brief (PDB).
  • McEnany's claim that Trump is "the most informed person on planet earth" comes nearly two months after she vowed during her first White House press briefing that she would "never lie" to the public.
  • Her statements Tuesday came in response to a question about whether the PDB contained intelligence suggesting that Russia paid Afghan militants to kill US and coalition troops in the region.
  • The New York Times first reported on the intelligence on Friday, but the White House claims Trump was never briefed on it because officials did not believe it to be credible.

The White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that President Donald Trump "does read" the daily presentation of important intelligence on threats and opportunities known as the President's Daily Brief (PDB).

Trump "also consumes intelligence verbally," McEnany said. "This president, I'll tell you, is the most informed person on planet earth when it comes to the threats that we face."

The White House press secretary's statements are at odds with multiple media reports over the past three years which said the president often does not pay attention during briefings, does not read the PDB, and frequently loses interest in the discussion unless he sees or hears his own name.Advertisement

Reuters reported in 2017 that officials on the National Security Council purposely include Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source.

Officials also told The Times in May that the president does not read the written intelligence reports presented to him, choosing instead to look at visuals like charts, tables, graphs, and satellite images. More often than not, The Times reported, the president likes getting information from his friends and the right-wing media.

McEnany's comments Tuesday came in response to a question about whether the PDB contained intelligence suggesting that Russia paid Taliban-linked militants secret bounties to kill US and coalition troops in the Middle East.
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The New York Times first reported on the intelligence on Friday, adding that Trump was briefed on the matter earlier this year and the National Security Council also discussed the information during an interagency meeting in late March.

The AP reported Tuesday that senior White House officials were aware of the Russian bounties as early as March 2019. According to the AP, then-national security adviser John Bolton briefed the president on the issue at the time, and multiple media outlets reported that the intelligence was included in at least one PDB.Advertisement

Trump, however, said he was never briefed on the matter and later said intelligence officials told him after The Times' initial report was published that they didn't brief him on it because they did not believe the intelligence to be credible.

McEnany also said Monday that there are "dissenting opinions" within the intelligence community, meaning that the intelligence "would not be elevated" to the president "until it was verified."

During Tuesday's White House press briefing, a reporter asked McEnany about the discrepancy.Advertisement

"If the president isn't reading his PDB, he might not know that there are these policy decisions being made, right? If the president was presented with this information, it's unverified, he could be alarmed, change his posture towards Russia, conceivably ask intelligence officials to work harder to determine whether or not this was true, make a series of judgments," the reporter said.

He continued: "And so I guess, more broadly, I would re-ask the question of whether it was in his materials, but ask you maybe to defend why the president isn't necessarily reading his PDB when there are these types of issues that arise."

McEnany responded that Trump reads the PDB. She also added that national security adviser Robert O'Brien sees Trump in person at least twice a day and sometimes "takes upwards of half a dozen calls with this president."Advertisement

"He's constantly being informed and briefed on intelligence matters," McEnany said of Trump. "But I'm not going to allow The New York Times to dictate when we give top secret information and when we don't give top secret information. That's not a tenable proposition."

McEnany's claim that Trump "is the most informed person on planet earth" comes almost two months after she vowed during her first briefing as White House press secretary that she would "never lie" to the public.

"I will never lie to you. You have my word on that," McEnany said at the time.Advertisement

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