The White House abruptly canceled President Donald Trump’s daily intelligence briefing on Wednesday, the morning after top intelligence officials testified before Congress, The Daily Beast has learned.
Reached for comment, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders simply said, “It was moved.” She did not go into further detail as to why and did not respond to follow-up inquiries.
American presidents typically meet with their top intelligence officials—or with those officials’ deputies—every day to discuss pressing national security issues. During the Trump administration, it has not been unusual for the White House to cancel those sessions. The abruptness of this cancellation, however, was outside the norm.
The cancellation came a day after CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with a number of other senior intelligence officials, discussed their assessment of national security threats in a way that undermined a number of Trump’s recent claims. In an open session before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, Haspel said Iran is currently complying with the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has called a foreign policy disaster. Coats, meanwhile, said that ISIS remains a threat—a statement that appears at odds with Trump’s assertions that the U.S. has defeated ISIS in Syria.
The next morning, the White House canceled the president’s daily briefing as Trump lambasted his intelligence chiefs on Twitter over their congressional testimony.
By Thursday, Trump’s tone had changed, at least publicly. He met with Haspel, Coats, and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Edward Gistaro in the Oval Office that afternoon, tweeting a picture of their conversation. He also blamed the media for making it appear that they had contradicted him in their congressional testimony.