Dec 3, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Former intelligence official: Trump often didn't believe our findings

Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Former Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon said in a speech to the Women's Foreign Policy Group Tuesday that President Trump often didn't believe intelligence officials' findings during briefings, citing his most common responses, CNN reports.

"One, 'I don't think that's true.' ... one is 'I'm not sure I believe that,' and the other is the second order and third order effects. 'Why is that true? Why are we there? Why is this what you believe? Why do we do that?' Those sorts of things."
— Gordon quoting Trump to Women's Foreign Policy Group, per CNN

Why it matters: Trump has had a fraught relationship with intelligence agencies. This appears to be another example of his skepticism of the intelligence community.

  • In July, the president said he thought loyalist Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) would be an "incredible" replacement for outgoing National Intelligence Director Dan Coats because "we need somebody like that that's strong and can really rein it in," per CNN. "As you've all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok," he said.

The big picture: Gordon is widely respected in the intelligence community and was supposed to assume automatically under federal statute the role of acting director of national intelligence upon Coats' departure.

  • But sources told Axios' Jonathan Swan that Trump never intended to pick her, and she resigned in August. That enabled Trump to appoint counterterrorism official Joseph Maguire to the acting role after Ratcliffe withdrew himself from consideration.

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