Biden chief of staff doesn’t rule out stopping intelligence briefings for Trump

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 5: Ron Klain (R), former White House Ebola Response Coordinator, arrives for a House Committee on Foreign Affairs Asia and Pacific subcommittee hearing concerning the coronavirus outbreak, in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, February 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. The number of cases of the deadly coronavirus rose to more than 20,000 in mainland China on Wednesday, days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global public health emergency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Joe Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff on Sunday did not rule out blocking President Donald Trump from receiving intelligence briefings once he is a private citizen.

Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” whether the Biden administration would follow recommendations from a former intelligence official to limit Trump’s access to classified information, Ron Klain said, “We’ll certainly look for a recommendation from the intelligence professionals in the Biden-Harris administration once they’re in place and act on that recommendation.”

“So obviously, we don’t have those intelligence professionals in place yet. (I) hope the Senate moves to confirm them quickly and then we’ll look what they recommend in terms of intelligence sharing going forward,” he continued.

Former Trump principal deputy director of national intelligence Sue Gordon wrote in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Friday that Trump “might be unusually vulnerable to bad actors with ill intent” once he is no longer President.

“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. “No departing president in the modern era has hinted at or planned on becoming a political actor immediately after leaving office.”

Gordon’s op-ed came in the wake of Trump’s role inciting a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.

Klain told Tapper that the incoming Biden administration has concerns about threats to state capitol buildings across the country ahead of Inauguration Day. But he added that he thinks the Secret Service and the more than 20,000 National Guard troops will keep Washington, DC, and inaugurations events safe.

“These broader threats, Jake, are concerning,” Klain said. “The President did incite this mob on January, 6 and that’s very, very, disconcerting. … We are obviously getting briefings from the outgoing administration about the efforts to try to secure state capitals, secure Washington, DC.”

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on “Inside Politics” that Biden should cut Trump off from briefings.

“There’s a grave danger of him inadvertently or willfully revealing classified information that would compromise sources and methods,” he told CNN’s John King. “There is no upside, there is no reason that he needs to have this information. It’s a courtesy that’s been passed on from president to president, but there is no legal requirement and I think given his past history of being fast and loose with intelligence data, it ought to be — that ought to be an easy decision for the incoming President.”

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, a Trump ally turned critic, told Tapper that while there are “many reasons” for the assault on the US Capitol, the President’s “sustained disinformation” are chief among them.

McMaster wouldn’t say whether the Senate should convict Trump, but told Tapper it would be “terribly divisive for our country for him to run again” and that “our reputation is harmed” around the world because of the insurrection and the President’s attacks on democracy.

This story has been updated with additional details Sunday.