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Trump flew into a rage every time US intelligence warned him about Russia, so officials gave up briefing him on it, report says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/2/2020 mjankowicz@businessinsider.com (Mia Jankowicz)
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. REUTERS/Carlos Barria © REUTERS/Carlos Barria President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
  • President Donald Trump would blow up at briefers who tried to tell him about Russia's malign actions towards the US, according to CNN
  • Multiple sources said this created a chilling effect, leading him to hear less and less about Russian threats and bolstering his belief in Putin's good intentions.
  • Top security and intelligence officials denied the reports that Trump is unfavorable towards receiving intelligence about Russia. Business Insider has approached the White House for comment. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump was briefed less and less with warnings about Russia's behavior towards the US because he would get angry when presented with intelligence about it, a CNN report said

Early in his presidency, officials learned to limit their verbal briefings on the topic and would often see their written materials ignored, according to multiple former White House officials cited in the report from CNN's Jim Scuitto. 

"The President has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn't favorable to Russia," one former senior national security staffer told CNN. 

The current Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe — who started in May — and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien both denied the accounts. 

a person standing next to a helicopter: A US soldier posted on a mission with Afghanistan police on December 20, 2014. Thomson Reuters © Thomson Reuters A US soldier posted on a mission with Afghanistan police on December 20, 2014. Thomson Reuters

They nonetheless have renewed relevance to a New York Times report that Taliban-linked bounty killings, sponsored by Russia, resulted in the deaths of US soldiers.

Three separate Taliban sources corroborated these claims to Mitch Prothero for Business Insider on Wednesday. 

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday that intelligence officials knew, and had briefed the president on them, as far back as 2019. 

CNN's report about the president's attitude to intelligence warnings on Russia now offers a potential alternative explanation.

Vladimir Putin wearing a suit and tie: Russian premier Vladimir Putin. Reuters © Reuters Russian premier Vladimir Putin. Reuters

The CNN report said that at the start of his presidency, Trump often flew into a rage at briefers who attempted to tell him about hostile Russian activity towards the US, including political interference. CNN's cited multiple former officials for that detail.

They soon learned, according to the report, not to highlight Russia in their briefings. 

In many cases, oral briefings on Russia would be avoided altogether and left in the president's lengthy written briefings, which he often did not read, according to CNN. 

It left officials with difficult decisions on how to prioritize the most crucial information, CNN reported. One former senior intelligence said their policy became to "save it for when it matters."

This led to what one former senior National Security Council official described as "a self-fulfilling prophecy," in which the less Trump heard of Russian activity, the less he believed that Vladimir Putin could mean the US harm, CNN said.

Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, told CNN in a statement that this was "totally false."

O'Brien said that the claims were "ridiculous" and only backed up the White House claims that the intelligence was not reliable enough to pass on, CNN reported. 

CNN's report is also in line with Trump's well-documented deference towards Putin despite warnings. As one former US ambassador to Russia put it in a tweet on Wednesday, Trump "always sides with Putin."

Business Insider has approached the White House for comment but did not immediately receive a reply. 

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