It’s Nuts That Trump Will Soon Have Classified National Security Intelligence Briefings Again

It’s Nuts That Trump Will Soon Have Classified National Security Intelligence Briefings Again

When he clinches the GOP nomination, the ex-president—currently under indictment for taking, hiding, and refusing to return classified docs—will have access to similar info again.


An illustration including a photo of former U.S. President Donald Trump and a manilla envelope

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty

Political news comes at the speed of tweets these days. In the deluge of breaking news, it’s easy to forget what happened in the not-so-distant past.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump disclosed “highly classified” intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in the White House. The intelligence was “code word” information, obtained by an American ally and shared with the United States only in the strictest confidence.

In 2019, Trump tweeted a remarkably clear image of a rocket that had exploded on a launch site in Iran. It turned out this was a classified image taken by a classified reconnaissance spacecraft. The image was finally declassified three years after Trump had shared it with the public.

People are, of course, fallible. The president surely receives an overwhelming amount of classified information, and the president is human. The president could accidentally slip and reveal something that he shouldn’t have. (Personally, I’m more forgiving of inadvertent disclosures during conversations than I am of disclosures in tweets, because you have an opportunity to think, and ask for review, before you tweet something. But occasional slip-ups don’t surprise or outrage me.)

But those were the old events, while Trump was in office.

Think for a moment about the new events.

Trump has been indicted for intentionally taking possession of a trove of some of the nation’s most sensitive documents and then storing those documents in an unsecured location at his social club. When the government sought the return of the documents, Trump returned only a few of them, lied about whether he possessed any more, and asked first his lawyer—and then his aide—to conceal the existence of the documents.

Trump hasn’t been convicted of these things, but no one on the Trump side is saying, “It didn’t happen! Trump never possessed confidential documents!” The Trump defense is more like, “The government shouldn’t prosecute Trump if it doesn’t prosecute Joe Biden,” and “Trump actually declassified all of these documents, but he didn’t tell anyone about it!” Which is interesting stuff, but not a denial that Trump committed the crime.

In the last six weeks, the national security situation has gotten even worse. Trump was hit with an $83.3 million judgment in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit, then with a $355 million judgment (plus another $100 million in interest) in the fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. A half-billion dollars in legal liabilities is enough to put the squeeze on even a very wealthy man. Indeed, Trump is now asking courts that he be excused from posting a bond in the full amount of these judgments.

Trump was irresponsible with government secrets while he was in office. He was irresponsible with government secrets after he left office. And Trump is now under immense financial pressure to sell information that he possesses in order to cover his debts.

When Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president, he’ll be entitled once again to receive national security briefings.

In a normal world, this wouldn’t happen. No responsible party would nominate for president a person who had disclosed classified information in the past, is under credible suspicion of having stolen and concealed classified information in the present, and who is under immense pressure to sell classified information in the future.

But here we are. Isn’t anyone else nervous about this?

Shout Out!!!

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