Presidential Intelligence

Monday, December 12, 2016Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 10.20.46 AM

Good Monday morning.
• Intelligence on Russia
President-elect Donald J. Trump said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he did not believe American intelligence assessments that Russia had intervened to help his candidacy. Instead, he said, Democrats embarrassed by their election loss were to blame for the reports.
Mr. Trump’s own assessment, shared in an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” widened a breach with the intelligence agencies. It also set him apart from a growing, bipartisan group of senators who are calling for a congressional investigation into Russian interference, based on the intelligence reports.
The New York Times has taken a look at how the C.I.A. came to its conclusion that Moscow was actively trying to get Mr. Trump elected.
• Secretary of State
Mr. Trump is expected to choose Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state, the most senior cabinet position yet unfilled. He lavished praise on Mr. Tillerson in the interview with Fox News, even as the transition team said in a post on Twitter on Sunday that any announcement would come “next week at the earliest.”
Several Senate Republicans, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio, were less taken with Mr. Tillerson, indicating over the weekend that they had strong concerns over his ties to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.
• Trump’s Business
Mr. Trump told “Fox News Sunday” in the same interview that his deal-making days in business were over and that he would turn over control of his company to his adult children before taking office. In fact, he said, he had turned down “probably a billion dollars of deals” with one “big player” last week alone so he could focus on doing the job of president-elect.
It is unclear what deals he was referring to, but Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday to detail what the management of the Trump Organization will look like once he takes office.
• A Complete Senate
In a special runoff election on Saturday, Louisiana voters chose John Neely Kennedy, the state’s Republican treasurer, to be junior senator.
Mr. Kennedy, who ran as a fiscal hawk determined to take on the Washington establishment, gives the Republicans a final 52-48 edge over Democrats in the coming Senate. Mr. Trump had campaigned for Mr. Kennedy before the vote.

What We’re Watching

The parade of callers to Trump Tower is set to continue. On Monday, they will include Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia; Carly Fiorina; Representative Raúl R. Labrador, Republican of Idaho; and former Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania.
Will Mr. Trump confirm Mr. Tillerson as his choice for secretary of state?
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is scheduled to hold a news briefing Monday morning. He will probably want to talk about Republican accomplishments in the 114th Congress, but he will no doubt be pressed on his opinion of the C.I.A. findings of Russian influence in the election and on whether he will support an investigation into those accusations.
President Obama will pay a visit on Monday to “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.”
President-elect Donald J. Trump attended the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore on Saturday.
President-elect Donald J. Trump attended the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore on Saturday. Doug Mills/The New York Times

What Is the President’s Daily Brief?

For more than 60 years, American presidents have spent time every day — usually in the morning — with the President’s Daily Brief.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, President-elect Donald J. Trump made clear that he did not intend to extend that practice, saying that he would hand the task to his vice president, Mike Pence, unless there were major developments that warranted his attention.
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person,” he said. “I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
The pronouncement prompted criticism that the president-elect was taking himself out of the loop and losing a chance to quiz his briefers on inconsistencies and questions of fact or interpretation that form the basis for some of the most important decisions a president makes.
• A Broad View of American Intelligence
Just what is this brief that is so highly secretive that its circulation beyond a few trusted advisers could endanger American interests abroad?
The President’s Daily Brief is a compilation of high-level intelligence findings that is put together overnight by a team working out of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a few miles from the C.I.A.’s offices in Virginia.
• A Varied Format
It is tailored to meet each president’s preferences. Long presented on paper, the daily brief is now often compiled on a secure tablet computer that lets the president page through underlying specifics.
During the administration of George W. Bush, the briefing included a complex “threat matrix” that evaluated the potential for terrorist threats around the world; the vulnerabilities of American troops, expatriates and travelers; and evidence of any emerging nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
At times, it would include a “deep dive” into a specific question that a president may have asked or that briefers believed he needed to know, such as the early August 2001 briefing Mr. Bush received at his Texas ranch reporting that Osama Bin Laden was “determined” to strike the United States.
Under President Obama, the brief has taken on some new topics and different forms, including a periodic update on cyberthreats against the United States.
• Other Recipients
Mr. Pence’s involvement would not be unusual. In recent administrations, the vice president has frequently sat in on the meetings that often accompany the brief’s delivery, as have the president’s national security adviser, homeland security chief and, at times, the director of national intelligence. But the vice president usually does so in the Oval Office, with the president.
• An Evolving Assessment
While there is certainly some degree of repetition in the daily brief, those who have read it regularly say that its value is often found in seeing how assessments change over time, and in being able to ask about the evidence on which those changing evaluations were based. And of course, they contain updated information as new threats emerge around the world.
President-elect Donald J. Trump during a “thank you” rally on Friday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

The president-elect said that he did not believe assessments that Russia had intervened, widening a breach with intelligence agencies.

President Vladimir V. Putin last month at the Kremlin. The C.I.A. believes he deployed computer hackers with the goal of tipping the election to Donald J. Trump.

Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

American agencies were united in the belief, before the presidential election, that the Russian government had deployed hackers to sow chaos during the campaign.

President-elect Donald J. Trump last week in Columbus, Ohio.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Defending his recent phone call with Taiwan’s president, Donald J. Trump said the United States was not bound by the One China policy, a 44-year diplomatic understanding.

Farhad Parvaresh, left, Iran Air’s chief executive, shaking hands with Fletcher Barkdull, a Boeing sales director, on Sunday. Boeing reached an agreement with Iran for 80 planes to be delivered.

European Pressphoto Agency

The aerospace giant emphasized how many U.S. jobs its $16.6 billion deal with Iran would support, a message apparently intended for a president-elect looking to shake up trade policy.

In Case You Missed It

Mr. Trump’s transition team has circulated an unusual 74-point document at the Department of Energy that asks pointed questions about climate science.
A New York Times investigation took a look behind the financial maneuvering at the bakery company Hostess, and found a blueprint for how private equity executives have amassed some of the greatest fortunes of the modern era.
Mr. Trump’s plan to keep a presence in New York City feels to some residents less like a source of pride than an open wound.
The editors of The New York Times Book Review have compiled their list of the 10 best books of the year (and the 10 best book covers).
John Neely Kennedy spoke on Saturday at his election watch party in Baton Rouge, La., after defeating his challenger, Foster Campbell.

Louisiana Republican Wins Final U.S. Senate Seat in Runoff


The victory by State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy will give Republicans a 52-48 advantage in the coming Senate, capping a dismal year for Democrats.

Donald J. Trump at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in June. The president-elect pushes the news cycle, but also seems to be pulled by TV news.

The New Reality of TV: All Trump, All the Time


For the next four years, we are living in a TV show that Donald J. Trump is simultaneously starring in, consuming and live-tweeting.

Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, is well versed in affairs around the world, his supporters say.

Rex Tillerson, an Aggressive Dealmaker Whose Ties With Russia May Prompt Scrutiny


Mr. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s chief executive who is expected to be named secretary of state, has a relationship with Moscow that could be both a strength and his Achilles’ heel.

The CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who pressed Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Michael G. Flynn’s role in the transition.

Uncompromising TV News Should Be the Norm, Not the Exception


A CNN interview with Vice President-elect Mike Pence was held up as a shining example of stand-up journalism. But in the Trump era, such moments seem rare.

The Ohio Statehouse last week. Lawmakers passed what would be the nation’s toughest abortion restriction if signed into law.

Andrew Spear for The New York Times

Legalized abortion faces its greatest threat in decades, people on both sides of the issue say, and that includes the possibility that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Matthew Heimbach, who runs the Traditionalist Worker Party, at home in Paoli, Ind., with his son and wife. His group advocates replacing the United States with nation-states based on ethnicity and religion.

Ty Wright for The New York Times

A movement of many factions is trying to change its image now that its profile has risen, but its message — one of racial separation and supremacy — is unchanged.

Oil tankers suspected of belonging to the Islamic State moments before they were hit by airstrikes in central Syria on Thursday.

U.S. Department of Defense/European Pressphoto Agency

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the troops would support Kurdish and Arab fighters in the struggle to retake Raqqa.

Kimberly Salt

The poor and working class have fallen behind the rest of the United States. A tweak of the tax system could help them, but it wouldn’t be cheap.