After the National Conventions are over and the presidential and vice-presidential nominees are named, each of these four people will be given a confidential briefing by top U.S. intelligence officials who will share with them a portion our nation's important classified, confidential and secret information. According to a quote in the New York Times by former deputy CIA director Michael J. Morell, the briefing is given so that the nominees might "'understand that they have now stepped into a bigger world' in which foreign allies, adversaries, and neutral parties are paying close attention to whatever they say, and that their words may have broad consequences".
This briefing of the nominees has been standard protocol for well over half a century . But this time around the intelligence community is scared to death.
For out of the above mouth has come admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to Putin's flattery of Donald Trump; a financial plan for our nation that would involve borrowing gargantuan sums of money from foreign creditors then basically declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying them back; not to mention a wish that that the mouth's owner could date his own daughter. These among other things that would have been better left unspoken.
In a Washington Post article former counter-terrorism analyst Aki Perez says of Trump,"This is a person who doesn't seem to have much of a filter."
Is that putting it mildly?
Perez goes on to say, "The scary part is that nobody knows who he really is. Is he this blowhard demagogue we see on TV or is he really a sophisticated consumer of information that will keep this information close to his chest?" In an article in The Guardian Perez asks the rhetorical but scary question: "Are confidential briefings for Donald Trump a disaster? What will he reveal? "
Which begs the question, what should he be told?
"It beggars the imagination," said former CIA director Michael V. Hayden, who was among those who briefed President Obama after the 2008 election. "Given that [Trump's] public persona seems to reflect a lack of understanding or care about global issues, how do you arrange these presentations?"
And worse, even if Donald Trump doesn't win the presidency he'll walk away with the national secrets he'll have learned from his security briefing. Perez imagines Trump on the campaign trail spilling classified information to his cheering crowds, saying, “Here’s something the government doesn’t want you to know, but I’ll tell you” and being praised for it by his fans for "telling it like it is".
Could Trump be prosecuted for revealing classified information to the public?
Perez says maybe not. "There’s no precedent for prosecuting a presidential nominee. And since the president is the primary individual with the power to classify information – or declassify it – Trump could, theoretically, pardon himself for any legal action taken if he actually wins".
The obvious answer would be not to share any secrets with The Donald. But, alas, according to a May 5 Washington Post article entitled , "Trump will soon be getting briefings from U.S. spy agencies. It might not go well", it's required that all the candidates receive the same information. But which information will be shared is definitely being tailored around which information the intelligence team feels comfortable putting in the safekeeping of Donald Trump.
President Obama, if he wished, could call off he intelligence briefing altogether, as whether or not the briefing takes place has always been at the discretion of the president. But since the briefing has been standard operating procedure for well over half a century, President Obama has stated that it will take place in this election cycle, too, and the President is leaving it up to the intelligence community to decide which need-to-know information will be shared with the nominees.
Let us pray to God not a whole lot. Not this time.