President Barack Obama said Thursday that he believed Donald Trump should get national security briefings as a presidential candidate, defusing talk that the Republican nominee shouldn’t be entitled to the information out of fear that he might leak it.
“We are going to go by the law ― both tradition and the law,” Obama said during a press conference. “If somebody is the Republican nominee for president they need to get security briefings so that if they were to win they are not starting from scratch in order to be prepared for this office.”
Speaking at the Pentagon, Obama made clear that he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of Trump being briefed by the Director of National Intelligence, even if he recognized it was a necessary step to take. Referencing Trump and his campaign, he added: “They have been told these are classified briefings. If they want to be president they have to start acting like a president and that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around.”
Concern over Trump’s access to classified information spiked in the early days of the Democratic National Convention, when he publicly encouraged Russia to hack the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In the aftermath, Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta said that the Director of National Intelligence needed to have an ironclad assurance before briefings that Trump wouldn’t send any information he received on to the Russians. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) encouraged DNI to give Trump fake material during the briefing.
All presidential candidates are given briefings prior to the election so they can be partially ready to assume the responsibilities of office should they win. Trump, despite his impulse to discuss whatever is on his mind in that moment, is no different. It is unclear if, in fact, his briefings have started yet, as his campaign chairman said on Wednesday that he had yet to receive them.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump