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Cockburn

Trump’s new intelligence briefing slimmer and with lots of visuals, documents reveal

‘Visuals, visuals, visuals. It remains true that a picture is worth a thousand words.’

July 2, 2018

10:00 AM

2 July 2018

10:00 AM

President Trump is not known as a voracious reader. So intelligence officials have changed his daily intelligence report to suit his limited attention span. 

Documents released under federal records law show that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence updated the presidential daily briefing (PDB) to consist of “three, one(ish)-page articles and a short Executive Update” in early 2017 as Trump took office. An official wrote in an email:

“As we begin to serve President Trump, we will introduce some small changes to the PDB. Each administration is different in how, when, and what they want in their PDB, and as we obtain more feedback from our customers, we may introduce additional changes.”

The documents were obtained by Governmentattic.org.

The update to the PDB occurred in February 2017 and it is unclear if the document is still presented this way. An email in August 2017 noted:

“Visuals, visuals, visuals. It remains true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Too often we are asking for visuals in the very last stages of review; this limits our ability to generate sophisticated graphics. Assume that most pieces benefit from a visual. Try to limit the amount of text and give your graphic designer license to be creative in telling your story … you may be surprised. We are open to ideas for videos as well.”

Trump is known as a consumer of television and not a reader of books. 

He told the Washington Post he had never read a presidential biography, and was reportedly flummoxed when cable-news blowhard Joe Scarborough asked him if he reads. 

The Washington Post in fact reported in February 2018 that Trump can no longer read hand written intelligence briefs and relies on an oral presentation from aides.

Cockburn can’t confirm this, but can report that Trump couldn’t stay focused in a briefing from aides after the April military strike on Syria. A West Wing source told Cockburn that Trump somehow managed to bring up his stunning election win in Michigan during this important session.


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