Trump and Intelligence

I read in the press that President Biden has delegated to his intelligence staff the decision on whether to stop further intelligence briefings to former president Trump. And Biden faces the herculean task of restoring the federal bureaucracy and repairing the enormous damage inflicted by the Trump administration. My guess is that the worst injury was to the State Department and the intelligence agencies. The repairs will take years.

There is no question in my mind that Trump should be denied any classified information. He has proven himself not just irresponsible but actually malfeasant in the handling of sensitive data. He revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during a White House meeting on 10 May 2017. In addition, evidence suggests that he shared secrets with Putin on at least one occasion. And we know that he disclosed national secrets during a pep rally with supporters. Whether he was criminally negligent or actively destructive is not clear. It doesn’t matter. He demonstrated why he is a danger to the nation’s security.

We know that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not qualify for top secret clearances, but a Trump-appointed official overruled career security experts and cleared Kushner. Kushner’s was one of at least 30 cases in which that official overrode security specialists and granted clearances despite information that should have disqualified the candidates.

From my thirty-five-plus years working in the intelligence community, I’m quite sure that Trump himself would not have met the requirements for security clearances had he not been elected president. With huge debts, including some to foreign concerns, and many incidences in his history for which he might have been blackmailed, Trump would have been rejected out of hand.

More tomorrow.

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