President-elect Donald Trump has had only two intelligence briefings since he won the election more than two weeks ago, intelligence sources told NBC News on Wednesday — a much lower number than his predecessors had and fewer even than Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
A senior intelligence official cautioned that it was too early to gauge the significance of Trump's sparse briefing schedule, given that he is in the middle of his transition process.
But the news, first reported by The Washington Post, will likely fuel critics who've questioned Trump's knowledge of foreign affairs and national security issues.
While a team of intelligence analysts remains ready and waiting to deliver briefings to the president-elect, sources told NBC News that he has accepted them only twice. Instead, Trump has turned the briefings down to focus on meetings with potential Cabinet members, media executives and business associates.
Pence, on the other hand, has received the briefings nearly every day, the sources said.
The President's Daily Brief is a document that includes top-secret information and is meant to provide presidents-elect with an overview of security developments and the workings of the U.S. intelligence community and defense apparatus.
It could offer Trump an opportunity to study up on foreign policy, a key issue in which his lack of knowledge during the campaign drew criticism even from Republicans and prompted a number of GOP national security experts to speak out against him and sign letters denouncing him.
During the campaign, Trump showed a lack of understanding of basic foreign policy concepts, and he was at separate times unable to distinguish between the Iranian Quds Force and the Kurdish people or to define the nuclear triad.
In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump was unable to distinguish between Hamas, the Sunni militant group in Gaza, and Hezbollah, the Shiite group in Lebanon and Syria.
At the time, Trump told Hewitt that he'd learn the difference "when it's appropriate," and boasted, "I will know more about it than you know."
"And believe me, it won't take me long," he added.