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VIDEO: Rep. Schiff says Trump shouldn’t get lifetime intel briefings like other presidents do

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, (D-CA). (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
January 18, 2021

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that President Donald Trump should be denied access to future intelligence briefings, despite the tradition of former presidents retaining lifetime access to intelligence briefings.

During a CBS’ “Face The Nation” appearance on Sunday, Schiff was asked if he agreed with an op-ed written by former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon, who said President-elect Joe Biden should block Trump from getting any intelligence briefings as a private citizen. Asked if he agreed with the idea and would urge the Biden administration to cut off access, Schiff said “absolutely.”

“There’s no circumstance in which this president should get another intelligence briefing, not now, not in the future,” Schiff said. “I don’t think he can be trusted with it now and in the future, he certainly can’t be trusted.”

Former U.S. presidents can still receive intelligence briefings after leaving office, but Schiff and Gordon want the Biden administration to cut off Trump’s access to the intelligence.

In her op-ed for the Washington Post, Gordon wrote, “Every former president in the modern era has benefited from a unique national security perk after leaving the White House: routine intelligence briefings and access to classified information to support his continued involvement in advancing America’s interests. These briefings have been a matter of respectful convention and were granted by the new president to the old.”

Gordon recommended the convention be stopped with Trump. “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.”

Schiff’s and Gordon’s calls to block Trump’s post-office intelligence briefings come days after lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for a second time. Lawmakers accused Trump of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when demonstrators stormed the building after he spoke at a rally with his supporters in Washington D.C., over the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.

On “Face The Nation,” Schiff also said he believes U.S. allies have been less willing to share information with the U.S. during the Trump administration.

“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,” Schiff said. “And that makes us less safe. We’ve seen this president politicize intelligence, and that’s another risk to the country.”

Brennan then asked Schiff about a report the Trump administration is putting a GOP operative, Michael Ellis, in the National Security Agency (NSA).

The Trump administration named Ellis to serve as general counsel for the NSA in November. While the position is a political appointment, it is within the federal civil service, allowing Ellis to stay on beyond the end of the Trump administration, according to the New York Times. While the Biden administration can try to remove Ellis, he would reportedly be difficult to fire and would then have to be given a different legal job within the Department of Defense.

“I think it’s very clear this is part of the administration’s effort to embed people in the civil servants who are political and partisan actors who don’t belong there,” Schiff said.