A former intelligence agent says that Donald Trump was the “most difficult” president he’s ever briefed, making the comments in a new book published by the CIA for U.S. officials.
In his book Getting to Know the President, former intelligence officer John L. Helgerson writes of his interactions with several former president.
“For the Intelligence Community, the Trump transition was far and away the most difficult in its historical experience with briefing new presidents,” he writes, according to an excerpt published by Insider.
Helgerson adds that the only comparable person he could compare the now 75-year-old Trump to, when it came to taking intelligence briefings, was Richard Nixon: “Trump was like Nixon, suspicious and insecure about the intelligence process, but unlike Nixon in the way he reacted.”
He continued: “Rather than shut the [intelligence community] out, Trump engaged with it, but attacked it publicly.”
Insider reports the CIA says that the content of the book — which is updated after every new administration and was first published in 1996 — are the author’s thoughts only, and not a reflection of the agency itself.
Trump made headlines in 2016 when, in his first few days in office, he delivered a speech in front of the agency’s wall of fallen heroes during a visit to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
In his remarks, Trump accused news organizations of lying about the size of the crowds at his inaugural proceedings, and labeled journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Trump also accused the media of creating a faux feud between himself and the intelligence community and told the gathered employees, “I just want to let you know, I am so behind you.”
Those comments contradicted other remarks Trump had made about the intelligence community, such as saying they were peddling “fake news” after BuzzFeed published a dossier about Trump’s purported ties to Russia.
Former CIA Director John Brennan expressed his displeasure at the tone of Trump’s speech at CIA headquarters, saying through a former aide is was “deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.”
Ryan Crocker — a retired diplomat who previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq — said in a 2017 interview with The New Yorker he was “appalled” by Trump’s comments, which he witnessed in-person. “Whatever his intentions, it was horrible,” he told the publication. “As he stood there talking about how great Trump is, I kept looking at the wall behind him—as I’m sure everyone in the room was, too. He has no understanding of the world and what is going on. It was really ugly.”