Biden Considering Not Giving Trump Intelligence Briefings

At the White House press briefing on Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated that the idea of extending intelligence briefings to former President Trump is “under review.”

A reporter asked, “Has the White House made a determination about whether it will continue to extend the privilege of intelligence briefings to former President Trump, given the concerns among some Democrats that he’ll either misuse it or leverage it to enrich himself?”

Psaki answered, “Mm-hmm. This is a good question. I’ve raised it with our intelligence teams — or our national security team, I should say.  It’s something, obviously, that’s under review, but there was not a conclusion last I asked them about it, but I’m happy to follow up on it and see if there’s more to share.”

The move to block Trump from intelligence briefings after he left office has been brewing for weeks; five days before he left office, his principal deputy director of national intelligence from 2017 to 2019, Susan M. Gordon, wrote in The Washington Post:

My recommendation, as a 30-plus-year veteran of the intelligence community, is not to provide him any briefings after Jan. 20. With this simple act — which is solely the new president’s prerogative — Joe Biden can mitigate one aspect of the potential national security risk posed by Donald Trump, private citizen. …

His post-White House “security profile,” as the professionals like to call it, is daunting. Any former president is by definition a target and presents some risks. But a former president Trump, even before the events of last week, might be unusually vulnerable to bad actors with ill intent. He leaves, unlike his predecessors who embraced the muted responsibilities of being a “former,” with a stated agenda to stay engaged in politics and policy. No departing president in the modern era has hinted at or planned on becoming a political actor immediately after leaving office.

Gordon also stated that because of his “business entanglements” that are located “in parts of the world that are vulnerable to intelligence services from other nation-states,” Trump should not be given intelligence briefings.  She added, “Neither past position nor past clearance is the basis for access to classified information — the ‘need to know’ is. Trump will not warrant access simply because he was the president, and he cannot assert need to know for himself. He has to be granted it.”

The day after Gordon’s op-ed, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was asked on CBS’ “Face The Nation” by Margaret Brennan: “Sue Gordon, who I know you know, one of the nation’s top intelligence professionals for decades, wrote an op-ed yesterday in which she said President Trump is a security threat himself. And when he leaves office, he should be denied access to intelligence briefings. Would you urge the Biden administration to do that?”

Schiff replied: “Absolutely. There’s no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now, not in the future. I don’t think he can be trusted with it now and in the future, he certainly can’t be trusted. Indeed, there were, I think, any number of intelligence partners of ours around the world who probably started withholding information from us because they didn’t trust the President would– would safeguard that information and protect their sources and methods. And that makes us less safe. We’ve seen this President politicize intelligence, and that’s another risk to the country.”

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