Officials Express Concern Over Giving Trump Access To National Security Secrets Once He Leaves Office

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. President Donald Trump shushes journalists before signing the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. In the midst of nationwide protests...

When a president leaves office, they are still entitled to classified briefings. But many ex U.S. intel officials argue that it would be unwise to grant President Donald Trump such access to national security secrets once he departs the White House in January.

Trump has a history of carelessly revealing classified information. In 2017, he told the Russian foreign minister and ambassador about extremely sensitive terrorism threat information that the U.S. had received from Israel. Last year, he tweeted what experts later said was a secret satellite photo of an Iranian nuclear installation.

David Priess, a former CIA officer and author of The President’s Book of Secrets, agrees with other former intelligence officials who say President-elect Joe Biden should not allow that tradition to continue into 2021. They argue that Trump already poses a danger because of the secrets he presently possesses, so it would not be in the nation’s best interest to trust him with even more sensitive information.

And officials are even worried that Trump will disclose the intel he has already gathered as president. His deep state of debt and anger towards the U.S. for rejecting him in the election may persuade him to retaliate against the U.S. government and reveal highly classified information. Once he leaves office, Trump will still have access to these records, and although the legal ability to disclose them disappears once Biden is sworn into office on Inauguration Day in January, this may not stop the current president from taking these extreme actions.

However, several concerned experts point to the fact that Trump rarely paid close attention during his intelligence briefings, providing reassurance that he is not even aware of the information that he could potentially disclose. Although he might hold secrets on the procedures for launching nuclear weapons and the development of new and advanced weapon systems, the experts note that his general ignorance might be the best counterweight to the perceived risk that he poses.