Flynn Rewrote Trump’s Daily Intel Briefings Before Being Fired
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2017—When reports that Michael Flynn was rewriting the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) while serving as National Security Advisor, the news appeared unusual but did not get much attention in the press. However, in light of recent revelations regarding Flynn’s ties to Russia and Turkey, this information becomes more alarming.
The New York Times first reported that Flynn was rewriting the PDB before Trump read it in a January 29 article about Stephen Bannon.
“Mr. Flynn still communicates with Mr. Trump frequently, and his staff has been assembling a version of the Presidential Daily Briefing for Mr. Trump, truncated but comprehensive, to be the president’s main source of national security information.”
That information was not the main subject of the article and at the time got little attention amid the other crises in the White House. Only a few journalists besides MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made note of it at the time.
However, it appears that the practice of Flynn being briefed by the preparers of the PDB and then briefing Trump on what he had heard was occurring during the transition as well. According to a December 14 report, Trump was getting a traditional PDB three times a week, but an “intel update” from Michael Flynn once or twice a day.
“He is meeting with General Flynn on a daily basis to get an intel update so in some cases he is getting an intel briefing every single day, in some cases twice,” said then-RNC communications director Sean Spicer to reporters.
CNN’s Kate Bolduan asked Spicer about the issue a few days later in December,
“Michael Flynn gets the presidential daily briefing from the briefers and then Michael Flynn relays it to Donald Trump. Why wouldn’t Donald Trump want to get it from the source?”
“I think that this is sort of a semantics thing,” answered Spicer.
The New York Times January 29 report did not elaborate further on the extent that the original PDB, which is prepared by the intelligence community, was being altered or abbreviated by Flynn, what information (if any) was left out, how information was prioritized or what information (if any) was added that was not originally included by the intelligence community.
The Times report suggested that Michael Flynn had unfettered ability to decide how and what kind of information was included in Trump’s PDB for over three weeks that Flynn was National Security Advisor. At the time, this was alarming because there were serious questions about Flynn’s judgment regarding conspiracies and attitudes toward Islam.
Given recent reports about Flynn’s ties to Turkey and Russia, the fact that Flynn was in a position to manipulate Trump’s main source of national intelligence deserves far more public scrutiny than it has received so far.
Featured image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Flickr Creative Commons