Leon Panetta said Donald Trump’s disinterest in receiving the briefings “can’t last.”
Responsibility for an attack against the U.S. could fall on President-elect Donald Trump if he continues to regularly refuse intelligence briefings, former defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta said Wednesday.
Trump said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview taped last weekend that he does not need to receive the presidential intelligence briefing every day because “I’m, like, a smart person” and such briefings are often repetitive. He has received the briefing only a handful of times since winning the presidency and said he relies on those around him, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to receive the briefings.
“I’ve seen presidents who have asked questions about whether that intelligence is verifiable, what are the sources for that intelligence, but I have never seen a president who said, ‘I don’t want that stuff,'” Panetta said at a conference sponsored by the government of Dubai, according to Reuters.
“If we endure another attack and the intelligence officials had indications or information regarding that attack and the president did not want to listen to that, for whatever reason, the responsibility for that attack would fall on the president,” he continued.
Panetta said Trump’s disinterest in receiving the briefings “can’t last” and also criticized him for his unwillingness to accept the assessment of the intelligence community that the Russian government launched cyberattacks to interfere with last month’s presidential election.
“When it comes to Russian interference in our last campaign, 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia is involved in that effort,” Panetta said. “I think the President would do well to say we ought to find out what Russia’s role was, we ought to investigate it and ensure that it never happens again.”