WASHINGTON – When David Preece was a CIA officer, he traveled to Houston to brief former President George HW Bush on classified developments in the Middle East.
It was part of a long tradition of former presidents who were consulted and given access to some of the nation’s secrets.
Preiss and other former intelligence officials say that Joe Biden would not allow that tradition to continue in Donald Trump’s case.
He argues that soon-to-be former President Trump has a threat because of the already existing threat, and he says it would be foolish to believe him with more sensitive information. With Trump’s real estate empire and his brand suffering under financial pressure, he worries that he will see American secrets as a profit center.
Jack Goldsmith, who worked as a senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration, said, “It’s not something anyone could ever imagine with other presidents, but it’s easy to imagine with this one.” “
“He has been shown as president that he does not secretly take very seriously,” Goldsmith said in an interview. “They have a known tendency to disrespect regulations related to national security. And they like to sell things that are valuable to them.”
Goldsmith and other experts noted that Trump has a history of recklessly disclosing classified information. He told the Russian Foreign Minister and the Ambassador in 2017 about the threat of extremely sensitive terrorism, which the US had obtained from an ally. Last year he tweeted that experts said there was a secret satellite photograph of an Iranian nuclear installation.
The President may also be sensitive to foreign influence. His tax records show that Trump appears to be facing financial challenges, according to a New York Times report, personally guaranteeing his companies more than $ 400 million in debt when the epidemic hit the hotel industry Pressure, in which Trump is a major player.
“Is this a risk?” Said Preiss, who has written “The President’s Book of Secrets” about the president and intelligence. “If it was someone applying for a security clearance, well that would be a risk.”
The White House and the Biden transition did not respond to requests for comment. Trump said that his finances are sound, and that the debt is a small percentage of his assets. Typically, however, large loans to foreign banks – Trump’s biggest creditor is told to Deutsche Bank, a German institution with links to Russia – would exclude a person from a top secret clearance.
However, investigations are not done for the president and security clearance, as all other government officials are. On the basis of being elected, they all control the secret intelligence of the country, and are permitted by law to disclose it to anyone, at any time.
Former presidential security clearances are not subject to scrutiny. They are given access to secrets in the form of courtesy, with the permission of the current president.
Typically, former presidents are given briefings before a trip abroad, or in relation to an issue about which the current president wants to consult them, Preuss and other experts say.
When President Bill Clinton sent former President Jimmy Carter to spread a tense situation in Haiti, for example, Carter received a classified briefing on the situation prior to his visit.
And when George HW Bush visited his son in the White House, he sat on the president’s daily brief, the highly classified collection of secrets that are presented each morning to the Oval Office dweller, according to Prius, who has both The men were interviewed for their book.
It is unclear whether former President Barack Obama received intelligence after leaving office, but President Trump said in March that he had not consulted his predecessors about coronoviruses or anything else.
Former presidents have long earned money after leaving office after writing books and making speeches, but no former president has ever confused international trade. Trump has business interests or connections in China, Russia, and other American adversarial countries that also covet small portions of what he knows about the US national security state.
While experts said Trump may not be negotiating with many highly classified details, experts say he was famous for only intermittent attention and reading his written material during his intelligence briefing. Furthermore, intelligence officers do not share specifics about sources and methods with any president, unless he asks.
So Trump probably does not know the names of CIA spies in Russia, experts say. But he probably knows little about the capabilities of US surveillance drones, for example, or how the National Security Agency has disrupted communications from various foreign governments.
Like so much with Trump, his track record of sharing secrets has been unprecedented in the history of the US president.
Releasing this fall in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward for a book, Trump boasted of a secret nuclear weapons system that neither Russia nor China knew.
According to the Washington Post, Woodward sources “later confirmed that the US military had a secret new weapons system, but would not provide details, and people were surprised that Trump had disclosed it.”
When Trump briefed the public about the commando raids that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, NIS News reported, he revealed classified and sensitive details.
In 2017, Trump replaced two US nuclear submarines near North Korea as President of the Philippines.
That same year, a member of his golf club in Mar-a-Lago took a briefing photo of Trump and the Japanese prime minister receiving a public spiel about North Korea, and posted it on Facebook.
In 2018, the New York Times reported that Trump commonly used unsecured cell phones to call friends, and Chinese and other detectives listened, gaining valuable insights.
A former CIA official and Trump critic Doug Wise argued in a piece on the Just Security web site this week that Trump had exacerbated the national security threat, and confirmed his access to the secret after he departed the White House. Will reduce the danger.
Trump’s large debts, he wrote, present a “clear and worrying retaliation risk to the United States.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Trump a great incentive to pay for actions on Russia’s behalf, Wise wrote.
He added, “President Joe Biden said that following the custom, Trump would continue to have access to sensitive information that Russians would consider valuable.” “As horrifying as it may seem, the economically benefited former president may be pressured or blackmailed to provide sensitive information to Moscow in exchange for financial relief and future Russian business ideas?”
It was not impossible to imagine that Trump paid millions on retainers by the Gulf Arab states or other foreign governments, Harvard professor Goldsmith said, “The course in which he begins to blunt and reveal a lot of secrets. It’s There won’t be an Express Quid Pro Quo., But people will pay for more time access with him, knowing that he won’t be prudent. “
Former CIA director John Brennan, a frequent Trump critic who was denied access to his own classified file by the president, said the Biden administration should carefully weigh the question of Trump’s access to future secrets.
“The new administration would be well advised to conduct an urgent review to determine whether Donald Trump should continue to have access to classified information in light of his past actions and what he may do in the future.” There is deep concern. “
Again, this can never become an issue, said former CIA officer Mark Polymeropoulos, who pointed out that Trump has long displayed “disdain” for US intelligence agencies.
Polymeropoulos said, “If he wants these briefings, I would be surprised.”