U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized Donald Trump for saying he intends to shun daily intelligence briefings once inaugurated, saying that would be akin to “flying blind” in managing national security affairs.
Appearing Monday evening on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Obama said it would be a mistake for a president to pass on regular briefings from the intelligence community.
Trump had said on “Fox News Sunday” he is not interested in getting daily intelligence briefings, a practice that’s been a fixture for chief executives of both parties for several years. Asked whether he’s actually rejecting valuable intelligence, Trump was defiant.
“I get it when I need it,” he said of the top-secret briefings sessions, adding that he’s leaving it up to the briefers to decide when a development represents a “change” big enough to notify him.
“I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump said.
Obama and Trump had an amicable meeting at the White House shortly after the election to discuss transition issues and have been in consultation, and Trump has publicly complimented Obama on helping to smooth his transition to the Oval Office.
In his Monday night appearance, Obama acknowledged that the U.S. intelligence agencies “are not perfect,” But he also said they are stocked with “extraordinary, hard-working and patriotic and knowledgeable experts.”
“It doesn’t matter how smart you are,” he said. “You have to make the best information possible to make the best decisions possible.”
Obama also commented on the burgeoning controversy surrounding the CIA’s conclusion that Russia was engaged in computer hacking aimed at interfering with the U.S. election process and helping Trump in his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump has chafed over the CIA finding, calling it “ridiculous.”
Obama told “The Daily Show” the reason he has ordered a wide-ranging review of the situation “is to really just gather all of the threads of the investigations, the intelligence work that has been done over many months.” The aim, he said, was to ensure that “the public and our elected representatives, going forward, can find ways to prevent this kind of interference from having an effect on the elections in the future.”
“This was not a secret running up to the election,” he added. “The President-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, hack Hillary’s emails so we can finally find out what’s going on and confirm our conspiracy theories.”