Donald Trump should not continue to receive intelligence briefings normally available to former presidents because of his “erratic” behaviour, President Joe Biden said in a US media interview.
“I just think that there is no need for him to have intelligence,” President Biden said in an interview with CBS Evening News on Friday.
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“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,” Biden said.
Questions had been raised during Trump’s presidency about his ability to keep sensitive US intelligence secret.
Trump revealed classified information related to feared threats by the ISIL (ISIS) group to Russia’s foreign minister and US ambassador in a 2017 White House meeting.
US intelligence agencies were forced to repatriate a high-level spy from Moscow during the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
More recently, during the 2020 election campaign, Trump administration officials selectively declassified information to attack the president’s political opponents
Biden has said Trump was “unfit” to be president and in Friday’s CBS interview cited Trump’s “erratic behaviour unrelated to the insurrection”, a reference to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by Trump political supporters.
Asked by the interviewer whether Trump should continue to receive top-level US intelligence, Biden said, “I think not.”
The full interview is set to air in advance of the NFL Super Bowl football game on February 7.
Some Democratic lawmakers, and even some former Trump administration officials, have questioned the wisdom of allowing Trump to continue to be briefed.
Susan Gordon, who served as the principal deputy director of national intelligence during the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019, in a Washington Post op-ed last month urged Biden to cut off Trump.
“His post-White House ‘security profile,’ as the professionals like to call it, is daunting,” Gordon wrote days after a pro-Trump mob laid siege to the US Capitol as lawmakers sought to certify his defeat in last November’s election.
“Any former president is by definition a target and presents some risks. But a former president Trump, even before the events of last week, might be unusually vulnerable to bad actors with ill intent.”
Gordon also raised concerns about Trump’s business entanglements. The real estate tycoon saw his business founder during his four years in Washington and is weighed down by significant debt, reportedly about $400 million. Trump during the campaign called his debt load a “peanut” and said he did not owe any money to Russia.
“Trump has significant business entanglements that involve foreign entities,” Gordon wrote. “Many of these current business relationships are in parts of the world that are vulnerable to intelligence services from other nation-states.”
Biden also acknowledged in the interview Democrats will be unable to gain congressional approval of a $15 an hour national minimum wage as part of a COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus package. But he pledged to work with Congress to win enactment of a higher minimum wage down the road.
Biden confirmed he is open to negotiating with Republicans to reduce the eligibility of Americans earning more than $75,000 a year, or $150,000 a year for couples, for the $1,400 stimulus cheques Congress is poised to approve.
He had proposed sending the cheques to people earning up to $150,000 a year, or $300,000 for couples. Republicans had objected that people earning that much did not need federal help.