Is Donald Trump an intelligence threat?

Presidential nominees typically get classified briefings. Should Trump?

Illustration of a classified documents folder covered in orange fingerprints
"If there's anyone in American politics less deserving of access to sensitive security information, I can't think of them"
(Image credit: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images)

Here's a paradox: Donald Trump faces trial for mishandling national secrets. But as the GOP's presidential nominee, he will be eligible for regular intelligence briefings by the federal government in the months leading up to November's election. The Biden administration is sticking with that "normally humdrum" tradition, Politico said, even though the briefings are "fraught with unusual risk this year due to the pending court case." Said one former intelligence official: "I'd be afraid about giving him stuff."

It's not just his history of cavalier treatment of classified docs, The Guardian said. Trump's "bromance" with Russian leader Vladimir Putin also raises concerns in the intelligence community. "I think Trump and Putin are natural bedfellows," said Douglas London, a retired CIA operations officer. That is why some Democrats are sounding the alarm. "There is literally nothing about Trump that suggests he would put our country's interests ahead of his own interests under almost any circumstances," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.