U.S.

Donald Trump Is Less Interested in Terrorism Threats at Intelligence Briefings, Complains His 'Generals Don't Understand Business': Report

President Donald Trump is showing “less interest” in potential terrorist plots during intelligence briefings and complains that his “generals don’t understand business” because they so rarely consider economics in their analyses, according to a Sunday report by New York Times.

Trump has reportedly raised concerns that his generals and officers don’t incorporate enough business considerations into their intelligence briefings. “My generals don’t understand business,” the president reportedly complained following a national security briefing, a former White House official told the Times.

In order to maintain Trump’s interest, intelligence officials have reworked some of their presentations to focus on economics and trade, the president’s favorite topics.

“President Trump’s economic focus has been evident, including his emphasis on increasing NATO allies’ burden sharing and pressing allies and partners to do more in support of our common interests,” Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said.

Although intelligence officers haven’t criticized Trump for his narrow focus, some have questioned whether it could impede the president’s ability to act on threats, like terrorism or political events with global implications. White House officials also told the Times that Trump has shown interest in the cost of American military bases overseas and allies’ defense expenditure, but "less" on potential terrorist schemes or cloak-and-dagger spy work.

“If Trump tailors it to his needs, that is fine and his prerogative,” Douglas H. Wise, a career CIA official and a former top deputy at the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Times. “However, if he suppresses intelligence through that tailoring, that is not helpful. He is no longer making informed decisions because he is making decisions based on information he could have had but didn’t have.”

Senator Angus King, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, argued that Trump’s attitude towards intelligence briefings could result in officials softening their analysis or failing to deliver important information. “The problem,” Mr. King said, “is the message sent to agencies: ‘Don’t tell me information I don’t want to hear.’”

Although former presidents have often disagreed with their intelligence officials, they never challenged their decisions in public, Michael Morell, a former top CIA official who has briefed former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told the Times.

“Bush would say, ‘Michael, I don’t agree with what you are saying,’ then we would have a back and forth and we would discuss it,” Morell said. “Obama would say the same thing. But that discussion was substantive. It wasn’t based on whether something is consistent with your worldview or the policy line you have taken.”

GettyImages-1128158974 President Donald J. Trump returns to the White House on February 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. Getty/Chris Kleponis-Pool

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