President Harry S. Truman started intelligence briefings for presidential candidates in 1945, after he didn’t learn about the Manhattan Project until 12 days after he took office.
Now, 71 years later, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump think that should be stopped. But only for the presidential nominee of the opposing party.
Reid told the Huffington Post Wednesday that he wants the intelligence community to give “fake” briefings to Trump.
“How would the CIA and the other intelligence agencies brief this guy? How could they do that? I would suggest to the intelligence agencies, if you’re forced to brief this guy, don’t tell him anything, just fake it, because this man is dangerous,” Reid said. “Fake it, pretend you’re doing a briefing, but you can’t give the guy any information.”
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., then formally requested that the executive branch withhold briefings from Donald Trump later that same day.
Reid said this was necessary due to Trump’s ties with Russia. Since the Democratic National Committee’s emails were posted by WikiLeaks, information has tied the leak to Russian hackers. In a move Democratic intelligence experts called “irresponsible,” Trump praised Russia for the hacking job and called on the country to also find the 30,000 emails that Hillary Clinton deleted.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said during a news conference in Florida. “They probably have them. I’d like to have them released.”
Trump said in the same news conference that, “I hope (Vladimir Putin) likes me.”
Reid’s call was preceded by both Paul Ryan and Trump asking intelligence leaders to not brief Hillary Clinton on intelligence matters at all, given her email server scandal.
“After the convention, you get the full, deep classified information,” Ryan said about three weeks ago. “I think the (Director of National Intelligence James Clapper) should deny Hillary Clinton access to classified information during this campaign given how she so recklessly handled classified information.”
Trump agreed with Ryan in his most recent press conference, not only saying that Clinton couldn’t be trusted with classified information because of the email scandal, but also saying one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, couldn’t be trusted because of her husband.
“I mean, her number one person is married to Anthony Weiner — who is a sleaze ball and a pervert. And I’m not saying that. I mean, that’s recorded history, right folks?” Trump said. “I don’t like Huma going home at night and telling Anthony Weiner all of these secrets, okay?”
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned in 2011 due to a sexting scandal.
Clapper refused to withhold intelligence information from Clinton after Ryan’s request, and based on his statement will likely say the same of Trump.
“I do not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate,” Clapper wrote in a letter to Ryan. “Nominees for president and vice president receive these briefings by virtue of their status as candidates, and do not require separate security clearances before the briefings. Briefings for the candidates will be provided on an even-handed nonpartisan basis.”