Ex-CIA chief Leon Panetta says Trump risks major liability if he skips intelligence briefings

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DUBAI, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Former CIA director Leon Panetta said on Wednesday that President-elect Donald Trump risked being blamed after any potential attack on the United States if he refused to receive more regular intelligence briefings.

U.S. officials told Reuters that Trump is receiving an average of one presidential intelligence briefing a week - far fewer than most of his recent predecessors - but that his deputy Mike Pence gets briefings around six days a week.

Panetta, a former Democratic Congressman who served as CIA director and defense secretary in President Barack Obama's first term, told the Arab Strategy Forum, a conference sponsored by the government of Dubai, that Trump's aversion "can't last."

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"I've seen presidents who have asked questions about whether that intelligence is verifiable, what are the sources for that intelligence, but I have never seen a president who said, 'I don't want that stuff,'" Panetta said.

"If we endure another attack and the intelligence officials had indications or information regarding that attack and the president did not want to listen to that, for whatever reason, the responsibility for that attack would fall on the president."

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump said he found the intelligence briefings repetitive and that he already understood potential threats.

"You know, I'm a smart person. I don't have to be told the same things in the same words every single day for the next eight years," Trump said.

Panetta said Trump should heed the view of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the presidential election through cyberattacks.

"When it comes to Russian interference in our last campaign, 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia is involved in that effort. I think the President would do well to say we ought to find out what Russia's role was, we ought to investigate it and ensure that it never happens again."

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A White House staff member weeps openly as she awaits U.S. President Barack Obama's arrival to speak about the election results in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

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White House staff, including Press Secretary Josh Earnest (2nd L), senior advisor Valerie Jarrett (3rd L) and Communication Director Jen Psaki (2nd R), listen as U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the election results at the Rose Garden of the White House November 9, 2006 in Washington, DC. Republican presidential nominee has won the election and will become the 45th president of the United States.

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U.S. President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, speaks about the election results that saw Donald Trump become President-elect from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington November 9, 2016.

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Staff members listen as U.S. President Barack Obama, not pictured, speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. No U.S. president put more on the line than Obama to ensure the election of his chosen successor. Now, Hillary Clinton's failure may serve as a repudiation of much of his two-term legacy.

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the election results that saw Donald Trump become President-elect from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House staff listen as U.S. President Barack Obama made a statement on the election results in the Rose Garden at the White House November 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has won the election and will become the 45th president of the United States.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest speaks to reporters about the presidential election victory of Republican Donald Trump from the White House in Washington November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Staff members applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama, not pictured, speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. No U.S. president put more on the line than Obama to ensure the election of his chosen successor. Now, Hillary Clinton's failure may serve as a repudiation of much of his two-term legacy.

(Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (L) walk to the Oval Office after Obama spoke about the election results that saw Donald Trump become President-elect from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington November 9, 2016.

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Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (at column) and White House staffers listen as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden (L) enter the Oval Office after Obama spoke about the election results that saw Donald Trump become President-elect from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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The CIA reportedly believes Russian hacking was aimed at boosting Trump's candidacy - an assessment not shared by the FBI, which along with other U.S. agencies has concluded that Russian cyberattacks sought generally to undermine the election.

Trump called the CIA assessment "ridiculous," and Russia has denied meddling in the election.

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