Biden Says Trump’s “Erratic Behavior” Is Enough to Cut Off His Classified Intelligence Briefings

Biden Says Trump’s “Erratic Behavior” Is Enough to Cut Off His Classified Intelligence Briefings

Originally Published on Mother Jones

President Joe Biden said he would stop Donald Trump from continuing to receive classified intelligence briefings now that he is out of office, saying that Trump’s behavior was “erratic” and worried him.

Former presidents are allowed to receive classified intelligence briefings, mainly as a courtesy and to allow them to chime in with advice if it’s needed. While all of the living former presidents receive at least some briefings, Trump now will not. Biden told CBS News that he didn’t see the value in letting Trump continue to receive classified information.

“What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?” Biden said.

While in office, Trump was known to dislike receiving the typical lengthy intelligence briefings that most presidents receive, forcing intelligence aides to find ways to present information in shorter, more engaging ways for the president’s notoriously short attention span. And Trump often seemed disinterested in the information his briefers had. Even with access to the vast reservoir of top-secret intelligence information collected by the United States and its allies, on many subjects like hacking and foreign interference in elections, Trump frequently put more weight on things he saw on his favorite television shows.

And he never hid his contempt for the US intelligence community, who often disagreed with Trump’s assessment of tense international situations like Iran and North Korea. 

Trump, and others in his administration and family, had a fairly cavalier approach to keeping America’s secrets. Just weeks after being inaugurated, for instance, Trump shared details of a top-secret Israeli operation against the Islamic State with the Russian ambassador, infuriating Israel’s spy community for potentially compromising their sources. 

Now that he’s left office, Trump has no formal role in American foreign policy to play, and unlike some other former presidents, like Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter, he’s unlikely to be deputized by Biden to carry out diplomatic or even semi-official business. Besides his penchant for saying too much, Trump left office with a shattered business empire and a looming debt crisis—a fact that has led some in the intelligence community to worry that Trump might be willing to sell access to the type of secret information in the briefings. 

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