The White House has said Joe Biden will not have the final say on whether Donald Trump can receive intelligence briefings after the president said his predecessor’s ‘erratic behavior’ means ‘he might slip and say something’.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki poured cold water on what had appeared to be Biden taking the unprecedented step to deny Trump access to classified information now he has left office.
Psaki said in a statement Saturday the president was merely ‘expressing his concern’ and will leave the final decision to his intelligence team.
‘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, according to the Washington Post.
It is not clear when a final decision on the matter will be reached.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has not commented on the decision and referred DailyMail.com’s request for comment to the White House.
The White House has said Joe Biden will not have the final say on whether Donald Trump can receive intelligence briefings after the president said his predecessor’s ‘erratic behavior’ means ‘he might slip and say something’
The walkback from the Oval Office came after Biden said in an interview with CBS Evening News Friday night he did not think Trump should receive intelligence briefings citing the ex-president’s ‘erratic behavior’.
‘I think not,’ he said. When asked why, Biden said: ‘Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.’
Biden said he would ‘rather not speculate out loud’ what his worst fear is if Trump is given access to the highly sensitive information but said there is ‘no need’ for him to be involved now he has left office.
‘I would rather not speculate out loud. I just think there is no need for him to have that intelligence briefing?’ he said.
‘What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than he might slip and say something?’
Psaki had also indicated in Monday’s press briefing that the Biden administration was evaluating whether or not to allow Trump to receive the briefings.
‘This is a good question,’ said Psaki. ‘It’s something that’s obviously under review.’
It has become tradition for former presidents to be granted routine intelligence briefings and access to classified information once they leave office.
The intel is not at the very highest levels which is reserved for the current officeholder only but are still delivered by current intelligence officers.
The president was asked by CBS Evening News Friday night if he believes his predecessor should receive the briefings. ‘I think not,’ he said. When asked why, Biden said: ‘Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection’
The move is said to enable outgoing presidents to continue to support the nation’s interests.
But it is an honor granted out of respect by the new president to their predecessor and the administration has the power to decide whether or not to allow ex-presidents access.
No other president has ever said no to allowing the tradition to continue but, in Trump’s case, the briefings would go to a former president who left the White House in a blaze of breaking with traditions.
He refused to concede to Biden when he lost the presidential election and then refused to attend the inauguration – the first time an outgoing president did this in more than 150 years.
Trump also spent his final months in the White House pushing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and telling his supporters the election was ‘stolen’ from him.
This culminated in the January 6 riot where a MAGA mob stormed the US Capitol in a violent siege that left five – including a Capitol cop – dead.
Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is set to begin on Tuesday after he became the first president to be impeached by the House twice in the nation’s history for his part in ‘inciting’ the riot.
Biden’s comments about Trump letting something ‘slip’ indicate his reasoning for denying the former president access to classified information was not driven by the events that brought about impeachment.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki walked back Biden’s comments saying the decision whether or not to grant Trump access will be left to the intelligence teams
In the days between the MAGA mob riot and Biden’s inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised concerns about Trump having access to the nuclear codes.
On January 8 – two days on from the riot – Pelosi took the unprecedented step of calling the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and asking the Pentagon to take ‘available precautions’ to stop Trump launching nuclear weapons in his last days in office.
But, long before the riots, there have been concerns in the past about Trump leaking classified information while president.
He caused an uproar during his 2017 meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak after it was reported he revealed highly classified information about ISIS in Syria to the US adversary.
The meeting took place in the Oval Office on May 10 2017 – the day after he fired FBI director James Comey after he announced the bureau was probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
In it, Trump gave up highly sensitive information from a US ally, reported to be Israel, including the Syrian city in which the intel was gathered.
The information was highly classified and had not even been shared with US allies.
The leak resulted in the US having to extract a top-level source inside the Russian government who was said to have been instrumental in the CIA’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
There have been concerns in the past about Trump leaking classified information. Trump caused an uproar during his May 2017 meeting (above) with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and then-ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak (left) after it was reported he revealed highly classified information about ISIS in Syria to the US adversary
Trump also once tweeted out what appeared to be a classified photo of an Iranian nuclear installation.
He then said he had the power to declassify material.
He repeatedly pushed for the release of information about the Russia probe that he believed would tarnish the investigation he derided as a ‘witch hunt.
Ex-principal deputy director of national intelligence Susan M. Gordon voiced concerns over Trump getting access to intel on leaving office in an op ed for the Washington Post in January citing it a ‘potential national security risk’.
Gordon, who served under Trump from 2017 to 2019, recommended Biden do not enable him to have any briefings after January 20 ‘based on my deep understanding of threats to national security.’
She pointed to Trump’s business dealings with foreign entities as well as his defiance that he will run again as major risks in him getting access to more intel than the swathes with which he has already left the White House with.
‘He leaves, unlike his predecessors who embraced the muted responsibilities of being a “former,” with a stated agenda to stay engaged in politics and policy,’ she wrote.
Ex-principal deputy director of national intelligence Susan M. Gordon (pictured in 2017) voiced concerns over Trump getting access to intel on leaving office in an op ed for the Washington Post in January citing it a ‘potential national security risk’
‘No departing president in the modern era has hinted at or planned on becoming a political actor immediately after leaving office.’
She added that ‘Trump has significant business entanglements that involve foreign entities.
‘Many of these current business relationships are in parts of the world that are vulnerable to intelligence services from other nation-states,’ she wrote.
‘And it is not clear that he understands the tradecraft to which he has been exposed, the reasons the knowledge he has acquired must be protected from disclosure, or the intentions and capabilities of adversaries and competitors who will use any means to advance their interests at the expense of ours.’
Biden doubled down on his previous comments that Trump is an ‘existential threat’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘reckless’ telling CBS’s Norah O’Donnell ‘I believe it’ in his first network interview since taking office.
‘I ran like hell to defeat him because I thought he was unfit to be president,’ he said
‘I watched and everyone else watched when that crew invaded the United Sates Congress.’
Trump was impeached by the House on January 13 for the second time for ‘inciting the insurrection’ on January 6. Pictured Trump at the rally where he told supporters to ‘fight’ moments before they stormed the Capitol
Pro-Trump insurgents stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in an attack that left nation stunned
Biden refused to say whether or not he would vote to impeach Trump if he was still a senator saying he would ‘let the Senate make that decision’.
Trump was impeached by the House on January 13 for the second time.
In the trial beginning next week, Democrats will argue Trump ‘incited an insurrection’ and should be convicted.
His defense will argue the MAGA mob rioters planned the attack before Trump’s speech where he told them to ‘fight’.
Trump is likely to be cleared by the Senate after a procedural vote showed Republicans were unlikely to support his conviction
Trump’s first impeachment trial in January 2017 came after it emerged he had pressured the Ukrainian president for information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
He was impeached in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress but was acquitted by the Senate in February after only one Republican – Mitt Romney – broke from party lines to back the impeachment article.