Trump shows ‘willful ignorance’ on intelligence – report
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Trump shows ‘willful ignorance’ on intelligence – report

After US president criticizes intel chiefs as ‘passive and naive,’ officials say he often gets angry when new information contradicts his views

US President Donald Trump speaks during a healthcare roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, January 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a healthcare roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, January 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

US President Donald Trump is ignoring intelligence assessments that run against his public stances, according to a report Saturday that cited members of the sprawling US intelligence community who fear his lack of interest may be endangering America and its allies.

Officials who brief Trump on intelligence matters described what one person called “willful ignorance” by the president when faced with information he does not agree with, according to a report in Time magazine Sunday.

Last week, Trump publicly berated CIA head Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats as “passive and naive” after they contradicted him on Iran, Islamic State, Syria and North Korea during Congressional testimony.

Trump later said they had both claimed to have been mischaracterized by the media, which he had relied on for his assessments of their comments.

According to Time, those briefing Trump have been warned not to present him with information that may not dovetail with stances he has taken publicly. When he is presented with information that contradicts his beliefs, he often reacts with anger.

Dan Coats, right, at a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 29, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

None of the sources in the Time report were named. According to the magazine, they requested anonymity because of the highly sensitive nature of their work. The sources included “analysts who prepare Trump’s briefs and the briefers themselves,” the magazine said.

The report is the latest to describe officials’ frustration at trying to convey information to the unorthodox president, including shortening the assessments to brief bullet points compiled on a single page and repeating Trump’s name several times in the document.

According to the magazine, during a briefing on South Asia, Trump told the intelligence officials that he knew Nepal and Bhutan were part of India, only to be told both are independent nations.

In an effort to convince Trump to scale back his avid endorsement of North Korea’s claim to have destroyed a key nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri, the report said, the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency “built a model of the facility with a removable roof, according to two officials. To help Trump grasp the size of the facility, the NGIA briefers built a miniature version New York’s Statue of Liberty to scale and put it inside the model.”

The point was to demonstrate that Pyongyang could easily reopen the sealed doors to the site if it chose to return to nuclear testing. “But the president has ignored the agencies’ warnings and has exaggerated the steps North Korea has taken to shutter the facility, those officials and two others say.”

Trump may be holding a second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un later this month.

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