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CIA Chief Pompeo: Trump Is a 'Serious Consumer' of Intelligence

In an interview with Hugh Hewitt, the head of the CIA refuted reports that the president is uninterested in intelligence briefings.
Image: Mike Pompeo
CIA Director Mike Pompeo answers questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on April 13.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Allegations that President Donald Trump is uninterested in intelligence briefings related to national security could not be "any more false," CIA chief Mike Pompeo told MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt in an exclusive interview that aired Saturday.

Trump “is a serious consumer of the product that the intelligence community delivers," Pompeo said.

“I cannot imagine a statement that is any more false than the one that would attribute President Trump not being interested in intelligence and facts when it comes to national security,” he added.

In one of his first interviews since becoming head of the CIA, Pompeo told Hewitt he directly briefs Trump for 35 to 40 minutes every day, and added that it often runs beyond that time.

“I know that my predecessor handled it differently, wasn’t there very often,” Pompeo said. “President Obama consumed his intelligence in a different way. President Trump is incredibly demanding of the intelligence community, asks us incredibly difficult questions and then counts on myself and other leaders in the [intelligence community] to deliver those answers for him.”

The CIA director said he could not confirm the Washington Post report that his agency had confirmed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand in meddling with the 2016 election. But Pompeo did note that this kind of attack was business as usual for Russia.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo answers questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on April 13.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

"The intelligence community has said that this election was meddled with by the Russians in a way that frankly is not particularly original,” he said. “They've been doing this for an awfully long time, and we are decades into the Russians trying to undermine American democracy.”

The report of Russian interference should not be surprising to anyone, Pompeo told Hewitt.

“So in some ways there's no news, but it certainly puts a heightened emphasis on our ability to figure out how to stop them,” he added.

But the president has repeatedly refused to say whether he believes Russia waged the multi-tier campaign that disrupted the U.S. presidential election, despite the consensus of American intelligence agencies, including the CIA.

NBC News reported Saturday that despite warnings, the Trump administration has done little to stop the next Russian hack.

Trump, in an interview Friday on "Fox & Friends," didn’t say what he would do to stop Russian hacking, but he did blame the 2016 hacks on the Obama administration.

"Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it,” Trump said.”But nobody wants to talk about that."