Intelligence community reveal that Trump will receive pre-election classified briefing, though provided assessments could be limited

 March 12, 2024

Some Democrats and federal officials have talked openly about denying the traditional pre-election intelligence briefings for presidential nominees to former President Donald Trump in light of his federal criminal charges for alleged unlawful retention of classified documents after leaving office.

Yet, multiple reports indicate that the intelligence community will go ahead and provide Trump with those traditional briefings, if perhaps in a manner that limits the sharing of classified information, according to NBC News.

The pre-election briefings for presidential nominees, begun under President Harry Truman in 1952, are intended to aid a smooth transition in administrations by ensuring that a potential incoming president is up to speed on major ongoing events and hot spots around the globe.

Trump could receive scaled back version of standard pre-election classified briefing

NBC News cited unnamed sources as saying that despite some concerns raised by elected Democrats and other current and former officials, the U.S. intelligence community intends to deliver the usual intelligence briefings to former President Trump once he has formally obtained the Republican Party's nomination.

However, there remains some talk that those briefings for Trump could be scaled back from usual in terms of withholding highly classified and sensitive materials, such as the sources and methods by which the intelligence was obtained.

To be sure, the briefings for nominees are typically not as in-depth as the ones provided to an incumbent or even a president-elect, but rather provide a general overview of national security issues and threats as assessed by the various intelligence agencies.

Denying typical intel briefings to Trump would be "politically dangerous"

Politico, citing its own anonymous sources, reported similarly to NBC News that, despite loud objections from some political opponents, including elected politicians as well as current and former officials, the intelligence community will abide by standard practices and provide former President Trump with at least one pre-election briefing once he is the Republican nominee.

Concerns had been raised by some about such briefings for Trump, given the criminal charges he faces for keeping some classified documents in his possession after leaving the presidency, not to mention allegations that he had previously and inappropriately shared sensitive information with others who lacked proper clearance.

However, the unnamed sources indicated that intelligence community leaders determined that adhering to those objections and denying Trump the traditional pre-election briefings could backfire and prove "politically dangerous" for the Biden administration, in that it would seemingly confirm Trump's longstanding complaints that the intelligence community is biased against him and working surreptitiously to undermine his presidential authority.

Democrats like Biden, Schiff, would deny classified briefings for Trump

It must be noted that President Biden, shortly after taking office in early 2021, openly stated his intention to deny his predecessor any classified briefings, which historically have been made available to all former presidents upon request, according to CNN at that time.

The reason given for that decision by Biden in an interview was that Trump didn't deserve to know any additional classified information as he "might slip and say something" that wasn't supposed to be known by other world leaders or the general public.

More recently, The Hill reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), formerly the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who is now running for an open Senate seat in California, is among those who have talked openly of denying or scaling back the traditional classified briefings for presidential nominees if the GOP nominee ends up being Trump, as seems most likely.

"We’ve never had a situation where one of the candidates for president has been so criminally negligent when it comes to handling -- if not worse -- classified information," Schiff said in a recent interview. "So I have to hope, and knowing the Intelligence Community as I do, that they will dumb down the briefing for Donald Trump."

"That is, they will give him no more information than absolutely necessary. Nothing that would reveal sources or methods," he added. "Because we can’t trust that he will do the right thing with that information, he’s been so reckless."

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