President-elect Donald Trump just firmly stated that he does not need to receive daily intelligence briefings because he's "like, a smart person." (Yes, that is a direct quote. No, it's not surprising at this point.) In an interview with Chris Wallace for Fox News Sunday, the president-elect said he only gets the briefings when he needs them. But for Trump to state that he doesn't need intelligence briefings, and to cherry pick which details should take precedence in his schedule (rather than looking over everything and allowing experts to pinpoint priorities) sets a dangerous precent for our country, leaving our future president woefully uninformed and unprepared to make critical decisions.
In case you were wondering, the incoming president said that he was currently being briefed once a week, while President Barack Obama is briefed six times a week. Trump did his best to explain to Wallace why he doesn't feel it necessary to receive intelligence briefings as often as his predecessors (besides, you know, being, like, a smart person). "I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years – but eight years," he said. (Meanwhile, every person who voted against him in the general election last month just collectively shuddered at the thought of eight years under that sort of casual national direction.)
"Now, there will be times where it might change," Trump added, perhaps hoping to ease fears that he would be out of the loop. "I mean, there will be some very fluid situations. I'll be there not every day, but more than that. But I don't need to be told, Chris, the same thing every day, every morning – same words."
For now, as Trump suggested, it seems as though this responsibility will fall onto Vice President-elect Mike Pence's shoulders, a man whom Trump described in the same interview as one of his "very good decisions." It appears that Pence, a career politician, understands the importance of the daily briefings.
According to The New York Times, Trump reportedly received three briefings during the first four weeks following the election. Pence, on the other hand, received them almost every single day. This is a strong indicator that Trump will rely heavily on Pence when it comes to making key national security decisions during their White House tenure.
The daily intelligence briefing, known as the President's Daily Brief, is considered to be the "highest-level intelligence document produced in the United States," according to The Times. The document is filled with critical information and updates from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The transition period between Election Day and Inauguration Day is usually when the president-elect familiarizes himself with the briefing process, as well the various types of sensitive information included in the document.
Trump is already coming into the most powerful office in the world with no political, foreign policy, or national security experience, yet he has rejected the chance to learn from the President's Daily Brief. Instead, he has delegated the work to his vice president. Being "smart" is not the same thing as being informed, and his refusal to do his job the way it's supposed to be done shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what, exactly, he has signed up for. This isn't an episode of The Apprentice, where Trump can just record another take if he flubs his line. Every action he takes and every decision he makes will have a real, lasting impact on our country and the world. It's time our president-elect starts taking that responsibility seriously.