The White House appears to be homing in on a defense of last resort for President Trump when it comes to the Russia bounties controversy: He doesn’t read.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday claimed Trump hadn’t been briefed on the intelligence that Russia placed bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But when pressed on whether the intel appeared in Trump’s written President’s Daily Brief, or PDB, she declined to directly respond.
There appears to be a reason for that. The Washington Post and others have confirmed that the information has indeed appeared in the PDB. The Post reports that two sources say “the intelligence was considered significant and credible enough that it was included in the President’s Daily Brief.” The New York Times is also reporting that information appeared in the PDB in late February. The Associated Press reported that it appeared in the PDB as far back as early 2019. And GOP lawmakers who were briefed Monday at the White House also appeared to grant that the info was probably in the PDB. “I believe it may have been,” Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) told NBC News.
The first thing to note here is the semantic game the White House appears to be playing. They’re suggesting that the President’s Daily Brief document doesn’t itself constitute a “briefing” — despite having “brief” in its name — but that a briefing must be done orally.