Biden gave his first network TV interview to CBS Evening News’ Norah O’Donnell on Friday and she asked him directly about his predecessor continuing to have access to classified intel.
“Let me ask you, then, something you do have oversight of as president. Should former President Trump still receive intelligence briefings?” O’Donnell asked the president.
“I think not,” Biden said and O’Donnell asked why he thought that way.
“Because of his erratic behavior, unrelated to the insurrection,” Biden said.
“You’ve called him an existential threat. You’ve called him dangerous. You’ve called him reckless,” O’Donnell went on.
“Yeah, I have, and I believe it,” he replied.
“What’s your worst fear if he continues to get these intelligence briefings?” O’Donnell asked.
“I’d rather not speculate out loud,” the president said. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefing. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”
Former presidents receive intel briefings as a courtesy but there is no requirement for them to do so. If Biden believes Trump’s access to classified information is inappropriate, it can be withdrawn.
During his time in office, Trump was accused of being lax with intelligence, not paying attention to briefings and even sharing classified information with other countries.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the “intelligence community supports requests for intelligence briefings by former presidents and will review any incoming requests, as they always have.”
Trump has not yet filed a request for classified briefings, according to a CNN report citing an unnamed administration official. Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has also signaled openness to denying Trump access.
Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS’ Face the Nation on January 17 that Trump should be barred from receiving sensitive intel.
“There’s no circumstance in which this president [Trump] should get another intelligence briefing. Not now, not in the future. I don’t think he can be trusted with it now and in the future, he certainly can’t be trusted,” Schiff said.
“Indeed, there were, I think, any number of intelligence partners of ours around the world who probably started withholding information from us because they didn’t trust the president would safeguard that information and protect their sources and methods. And that makes us less safe. We’ve seen this president politicize intelligence, and that’s another risk to the country.”