Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will receive their government intelligence briefing within days, even as each party argues the other’s nominee is not worthy of receiving sensitive information, a US intelligence official familiar with the process said Thursday.
The briefings could be held at any time after Clinton accepts the nomination Thursday night but are mostly likely to begin as soon as next week once arrangements about timing and a secure government location are made.
The Republican and Democratic vice presidential candidates, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, will also receive briefings.
“Nominees for president and vice president receive these classified briefings by virtue of their status as candidates and do not require separate security clearances before the briefings,” the official said.
The official stressed that the briefings would be provided “on an even-handed, non-partisan basis,” and that the candidates would be advised of the classified nature of the material, though “operational and policy matters are not addressed.”
Trump’s call for Russia to share any hacked personal emails from Clinton — which she wrote on the private server she used for official business as secretary of state and deleted instead of giving them to the State Department — was seen by many as a request for further electronic espionage by Moscow.
The incident is just the latest that Democrats are seizing on to argue that he shouldn’t get access to the classified briefing.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called for Trump to get “fake briefings.”
“I think that the man is a loose cannon,” Reid said. “He’s done so much to hurt our country with our international relations.”
Earlier in July, House Speaker Paul Ryan formally requested that Clinton not receive the briefings following the use of a private email server for official business while secretary of state, despite the sensitive information that comes across the desk of the country’s top diplomat.
Clinton was severely criticized by the FBI for her email use but not punished.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Ryan in a letter obtained by CNN that he “does not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate.”
The briefings will include a broad look at the threats and challenges facing US national security, but not any sources or methods of collecting intelligence, as they are considered extremely sensitive. Those types of details, along with anything about covert intelligence operations, are only provided to the president-elect after the election.
Clapper oversees the entire briefing process. If the nominees ask questions seeking more information on a particular subject, the briefer will take the question and the intelligence community decides if it is going to answer it. If so, an answer is provided to both nominees at the same time to preserve parity.
Clinton may be familiar with much of the intelligence from her tenure as secretary of state. But Kaine, a Virginia senator who currently serves on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, is likely to be the most up-to-date of all four nominees by virtue of the briefings he received as a member of Congress.