Well, I really should apologize: I’ve been on a depressing roll lately!
The problem is, just as I try to focus on good news, and there is good news to find (for example, the NRA just declared bankruptcy) someone gives voice to a danger I hadn’t previously considered and sets my hair on fire.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed a few days ago, and came across a conversation between a couple of my more politically savvy friends. They were discussing what one of them termed “an interesting point.”
In theory, at least, Donald Trump is in possession of a lot of confidential information about foreign threats and the United States’ security measures to counter them. There is apparently a worry among Intelligence and Homeland Security personnel that he will reveal highly sensitive information after he leaves office. As the original post noted, “after all, he’s shown he’ll do it while in office.”
Although Trump would undoubtedly sell state secrets if he could monetize them, the danger is amplified by the even more foreseeable possibility that he would disclose classified information inadvertently–that in the course of one of his grandiose, “look at me I’m so important” word-salads, he would blurt out state secrets.
If, as many lawyers predict, Trump is prosecuted in New York for his financial crimes (a federal pardon is ineffective against state-level criminal convictions) and if, as a result, he is actually imprisoned, it would be totally in character for him to take his revenge by intentionally disclosing classified information.
Evidently, the possibility of such disclosures has become a real worry within the Intelligence Community. As one of the commenters noted, Trump has over $400 million in debt coming due just within the next couple of years. We can all identify the foreign powers–adverse to America– who would be happy to help him pay off that debt. For a quid pro quo.
A column by a former Intelligence official told me something I hadn’t previously known: former presidents are given routine intelligence briefings with access to classified information. These briefings are thought to support a former President’s presumed continued involvement in advancing America’s interests. As the official noted, a “more purposeful decision” should be made about Trump, who she characterizes as “uniquely vulnerable” to” bad actors and ill intent.”
My recommendation, as a 30-plus-year veteran of the intelligence community, is not to provide him any briefings after Jan. 20. With this simple act — which is solely the new president’s prerogative — Joe Biden can mitigate one aspect of the potential national security risk posed by Donald Trump, private citizen.
Since the publication of that column, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) — who sit on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, respectively — have publicly urged President-elect Biden to prohibit outgoing President Trump from receiving those briefings.
Anyone who has been watching his behavior over the past four years (and especially the last two months) understands that Trump has no loyalty–zero, zip– to the United States. Actually, he has shown zero loyalty to anything or anyone but himself (and possibly Ivanka). That, as my Facebook friends noted, makes him a continuing threat to the republic even after he leaves office.
The only mitigating factor I can see is the same one that has saved us from an even worse fate than we have experienced in the presidential term that is mercifully ending–his incompetence. Trump, as he has made painfully obvious, is none too bright. He is also incredibly lazy, thoroughly ignorant of government and how it operates, and has a significantly limited attention span. It is doubtful that he paid much attention during briefings, and even more doubtful that he understood them at the time or can remember them now.
If I were Putin or another one of Trump’s autocrat friends, I think I’d hesitate to bail Trump out in return for information that has a high likelihood of being wrong. But that’s a pretty thin reed on which to rest confidence in America’s security…
What was that book that Rick Wilson wrote? Everything That Trump Touches Dies.
COVID deaths have already been bad enough. Let’s hope millions more Americans aren’t exposed to foreign attacks because Mr. Psychopath couldn’t–or wouldn’t– keep his mouth shut.