Trump’s Top-Secret Transition

The Intelligence Traditions Preparing the President-Elect for the Oval Office

An aerial view of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, January 2008. JASON REED / FILE PHOTO / REUTERS

Each U.S. president inherits history’s most robust system for gaining insight into the capabilities and intentions of other powers. A vital part of this national security infrastructure is the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB, which contains the nation’s most sensitive intelligence reporting and analysis. For more than 50 years, the U.S. intelligence community has delivered this top-secret book to the commander in chief every working day. Along with other support, the PDB helps the president remain the best-informed person on Earth on a wide range of global challenges.

Candidates for the nation’s highest office, by contrast, often begin their runs for the White House with scant knowledge of foreign affairs. And Donald Trump started his presidential bid with even less knowledge than most of his predecessors. In a matter of weeks, however, he will be president. It will be his job to make tough calls

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