U.S. intelligence agencies will soon begin giving President-elect Donald Trump the same top secret national security briefings they give President Barack Obama, current and former intelligence officials said Wednesday.
The briefings by veteran career intelligence analysts, which will begin in the next few days, will include some of the government’s most closely-guarded secrets, including details of undercover espionage operations and classified intelligence collection methods, including the National Security Agency’s controversial eavesdropping operations, the officials said.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which will be in charge of Trump’s briefings, had no immediate comment.
“I’m certain the intelligence agencies will approach these briefings with absolute professionalism,” said John McLaughlin, a former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency who participated in presidential briefings.
“Once the American people have chosen a president he or she is entitled to complete support from intelligence, and intelligence agencies have to assume that a president-elect will be equally professional,” McLaughlin said.
He added: “I have seen the transformation that occurs when candidates become presidents and realize the awesome responsibility that rests on them. We can only hope it happens again.”
“The president-elect has received the final anointing by the American people, and is the person the intelligence community knows it will be serving over the next four years,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst. “There is every reason to be as thorough and forthcoming briefing the president-elect as in briefing the incumbent president.”
Not long after Trump was confirmed as the Republican presidential nominee, intelligence officials gave him and a small team of advisors two general briefings on threats and foreign policy issues facing the United States.
Those pre-election briefings contained some classified information, but not anything about covert operations or intelligence-collection methods.
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball)