President Biden said he doesn’t think his predecessor, former President Donald Trump should have access to classified intelligence briefing due to his “erratic behavior” for fears that he “might slip and say something.”
In his first televised interview with CBS before SuperBowl, Biden told host Norah O’Donnell that he didn’t want to “speculate out loud” but is clear that the former president should not continue getting U.S. secrets.
“Well, let me ask you then something that you do have oversight of as president,” O’Donnell asked. “Should former President Trump still receive intelligence briefings?”
“I think not,” Biden responded.
“Why not?” O’Donnell continued.
“Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection,” Biden said.
O’Donnell pressed on: “You’ve called him an existential threat. You’ve called him dangerous. You’ve called him reckless.”
“I have, and I believe it,” Biden said.
The president declined to elaborate further to the CBS host what would be his “worst fear” if Trump continues to receive access to the classified information, a courtesy that historically is granted to outgoing presidents.
“I’d rather not speculate out loud. I just think that there is no need for him to have that intelligence briefing,” Biden said. “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?”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier this week that the issue of granting Trump intelligence briefings was “something that is under review.”
However, Psaki backtracked her original remarks, releasing a statement to reporters on Saturday that sought to clarify Biden’s position. In the statement, Psaki stated that Biden will leave the decision about whether or not Trump should have access to the sensitive intelligence briefings up to intelligence officials.
“The president was expressing his concern about former president Trump receiving access to sensitive intelligence, but he also has deep trust in his own intelligence team to make a determination about how to provide intelligence information if at any point the former president Trump requests a briefing,” Psaki said in the Saturday emailed statement.
It is unclear when a decision will be made about Trump’s access.
Anti-Trump Democrats have called on Biden not to grant the former president the classified briefing.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has urged Biden to cut off briefings for Trump.
“There’s no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing,” Schiff said last month just before Biden’s inauguration. “I don’t think he can be trusted with it now, and in the future.”
“Indeed, there were, I think, any number of intelligence partners around the world who probably started withholding information from us because they didn’t trust the president would safeguard that information, and protect their sources and methods,” Schiff added. “And that makes us less safe. We’ve seen this president politicize intelligence, and that’s another risk to the country.”
In 2018, Trump stripped the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, which ignited a firestorm that the president was punishing high-profile critics.