President-elect Donald Trump is turning down a large number of the daily intelligence briefings offered to bring him up to speed on world events, officials have confirmed.
The Washington Post initially reported in late November that Trump had only attended two such meetings at that time, electing instead to meet with candidates for his administration as he works to select his team, while Vice President-elect Mike Pence attends them nearly daily. On Dec. 8, a Senate aide confirmed the news to CBS.
"Trump has a lot of catching up to do," a senior U.S. official told The Washington Post in the weeks after Trump won the election regarding the briefing.
Democratic leaders Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump out in a Dec. 8 op-ed for USA Today, saying that they have "little optimism" for his performance as president and find it "particularly troubling" that he has turned down many of the briefings.
"Presidents and presidents-elect going back decades have begun their day this way — understanding national security threats and opportunities, asking probing questions, and making tough decisions," they wrote in the USA Today piece. "At stake is America's role as a global superpower: building coalitions, fostering development, combating disease, fighting terrorism, upholding democratic institutions and values, and filling leadership voids where other nations come up short."
Some, such as Reince Priebus, whom Trump has appointed as his chief of staff, said on "Face the Nation" that the president-elect is attending the meetings "quite frequently" and expects them to "ramp up as we get closer to January 20," according to CBS.
And the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, said that he thought Trump had been putting enough work into understanding the intricacies of national security and balancing it with his busy schedule.
"National security is Donald Trump's number one priority and I think he's taking it very seriously," Nunes said in an interview, according to The Post. "Look how many leaders he's met with, how many phone calls he's done, positions he's filled. People who are being critical need to get a life."