national security risk
November 10, 2020

President Trump could be a major threat to national security once he leaves the White House.

While he's president, Trump is free to declassify and disperse any U.S. intelligence secrets he'd like. That privilege ends once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, but current and former officials tell The Washington Post Trump is likely to retain and spread those secrets once he leaves office.

All U.S. presidents "exit the office with valuable national secrets in their heads," including deep knowledge of nuclear weapons processes, intelligence assets within foreign governments, and weapons development, the Post describes. But this is the first time an incoming president "has ever had to fear that his predecessor might expose the nation's secrets," the Post continues. Trump's boastful personality, his belief in "deep state" conspiracies, and his millions of dollars of debt set him up to be a "classic counterintelligence risk," the Post reports.

One former official envisioned Trump bragging about Air Force One's technical capabilities or the locations of U.S. spy drones at a rally or in conversation with a foreign leader. John Fitzpatrick, a former intelligence officer, also acknowledged ex-presidents retain information about "special military capabilities, details about cyber weapons and espionage," and U.S. satellites.

Then again, Trump has reportedly rarely paid much attention during intelligence briefings, which he rarely holds to begin with. "A knowledgeable and informed president with Trump's personality characteristics, including lack of self-discipline, would be a disaster," Jack Goldsmith, a Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration, told the Post. "The only saving grace here is that he hasn't been paying attention." Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

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