US President Joe Biden has said there was “no need” for his predecessor Donald Trump to receive intelligence briefings – which are traditionally given to former presidents – because of his “erratic behaviour”.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Trump wanted the briefings at all.
“I think not,” Biden said in an interview to CBS on Friday when asked if Trump should receive intelligence briefings as a former president. The full interview airs on Sunday.
“Because of his erratic behaviour unrelated to the insurrection,” Biden said when asked why not. He was referring to the January 6 storming of the US Capitol that Trump had incited, for which he was impeached and is facing a Senate trial.
“I’d rather not speculate out loud,” Biden said when the interviewer pressed him further. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”
Former presidents are given intelligence briefings partly as a courtesy and partly to keep them updated should the sitting president reach out to them for advice, The New York Times reported.
Former US presidents Jimmy Carter, George W Bush and Barack Obama continue to receive regular briefings.
But concerns about Trump’s past handling of classified information was a cause for early concern for the White House, Democrats and the intelligence community.
Early in his presidency, Trump had reportedly shared with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and then ambassador Sergey Kislyak classified information on the Islamic State that the Americans had received from Israel. It had happened during an Oval Office meeting in 2017.
Susan Gordon, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence, had argued against giving Trump intelligence briefings after he left office in an opinion piece in The Washington Post on January 15, saying, “These briefings have been a matter of respectful convention and were granted by the new president to the old. But convention left the premises a long time ago with President Trump.”
She had raised concerns citing Trump’s plans to continue to be an active player in politics, unlike his predecessors, who “embraced the muted responsibilities of being a former”.