Intelligence officials with access to the most sensitive information withheld some of it from President Donald Trump, a former CIA official who served during the administration told the New York Times last week.
Douglas London, who was a high-ranking CIA counterterrorism official during the Trump administration, told the New York Times that the agency would hold back information from the president — more than is typically withheld from a president.
“We certainly took into account ‘what damage could he do if he blurts this out?’” London told the New York Times.
Allegations were raised throughout Trump’s time in office that he revealed still classified information.
In 2019, CNN reported that Trump shared classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2017 and that the CIA then decided to extract a deep-cover agent working in Russia. CNN reported that the decision was taken, in part, out of concern Trump could have exposed the agent. The CIA issued a rare public statement refuting CNN’s reporting.
In one alleged incident following an explosion at an Iranian space launch facility, Trump reportedly clashed with intelligence officials over whether he could share a satellite image of the damaged Iranian facility. Trump reportedly asserted his presidential authority to decide what was and wasn’t classified, saying, “I have declassification authority. I can do anything I want.”
Trump’s declassification authority has become a topic of interest in recent days with the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago resort. Court filings said FBI agents recovered classified documents from Trump’s property, though the former president insisted he had already declassified the materials.
Trump is known to have ordered the declassification of documents related to the FBI’s surveillance of his 2016 campaign. Trump issued a memorandum of this declassification as one of his last acts before departing the White House for Mar-a-Lago at the end of his presidency.
Trump lambasted the FBI’s actions throughout his presidency. In a Jan. 4, 2021 ceremony to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to (now former) Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Trump credited Nunes with learning “that the Obama-Biden administration had issued Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on President Trump’s campaign and illegitimately unmasked several innocent spying victims for political gain.”
“Devin Nunes’ courageous actions helped thwart a plot to take down a sitting United States president,” Trump also said at the time. “Devin’s efforts led to the firing, demotion, or resignation of over a dozen FBI and DOJ employees.”
Trump repeatedly criticized entrenched government bureaucrats throughout his 2016 campaign and presidency as members of the “deep state” and the “swamp.”