As president, Donald Trump had a reputation for being easily bored during White House briefings. But a new report claims he zoned in and lapped up intelligence presentations that dished dirt about rival world leaders he didn’t like.
According to The New York Times, Trump was also fascinated by information about himself and how his meetings with global leaders were received.
Trump devoured intelligence briefings about his foreign counterparts before and after phone calls with them, sources told the newspaper. Trump also appeared to be particularly attentive to information that he may have believed could help him woo autocratic leaders he admired — such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — as well as provide leverage he could utilize against heads of state he disliked — such as French President Emmanuel Macron.
“He is all about leverage,” Sue Gordon, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence, told the Times. “It is not my experience that he has an ideologically held view about anything. It’s all about what he can use as leverage in this moment.”
As president, Donald Trump had a reputation for being easily bored during White House briefings. However, a new report claims he lapped up intelligence presentations that dished dirt about rival world leaders he didn’t like. (Photo: Morry Gash via Associated Press)
The latest report may help to explain why Trump took classified documents from the White House at the end of his term and stashed them in his Mar-a-Lago home.
Rolling Stone has previously reported that Trump boasted he had intelligence on Macron’s sex life. But he was fascinated by the extramarital affairs of other world leaders, as well, largely because he found the news titillating, sources said.
Other presidents rarely, if ever, kept documents from their intelligence briefings.
“In my entire time of briefing President [George W.] Bush, he asked to keep only one thing, which was a chart of those responsible for 9/11, which he then, when we captured or killed somebody on that list, he would cross off,” Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, told the Times.
Bush never took the chart out of the Oval Office, Morell added.
Trump’s ex-chief of staff John Kelly told The Washington Post that the former president was disdainful of the rules for handling classified information.
“His sense was that the people who are in the intel business are incompetent, and he knew better,” Kelly said. “He didn’t believe in the classification system.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.