Only verified intelligence? A look at presidents' briefings

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the White House, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – The White House says President Donald Trump was never briefed on intelligence that Russia had put a bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan because there wasn’t corroborating evidence.

But former intelligence officials say presidents are routinely informed about intelligence even when it’s not definitively confirmed. Intelligence that may be on shaky ground today may foreshadow tomorrow’s calamity.

Some questions and answers about how presidents are briefed on intelligence, what sort of information they receive and how this applies to the situation with Russia:


Both orally and through a written document known as the President's Daily Brief.

The PDB, as it is known, is a compilation of intelligence and national security assessments from government analysts. It's material the intelligence community thinks the president should know.

The document has been provided to presidents in some form since Harry Truman occupied the White House. Some presidents are said to have been voracious consumers of their briefings; Trump, by contrast, is known to demand only the sparest details.

Today, the PDB is coordinated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and includes contributions from the CIA and other members of the intelligence community who effectively pitch stories for inclusion, said Rodney Faraon, a former CIA analyst who served from 1999 to 2001 on the briefing team for the White House.