Congressman David Cicilline asked President Obama to not share with Donald Trump the national security secrets typically confided in candidates for president. Earlier today, Trump publicly prodded Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email.
He sent this letter to the president today.
Since 1952, the White House has authorized the U.S. intelligence community to provide major party presidential nominees with classified briefings on the state of international affairs. These briefings feature the discussion of sensitive intelligence, and are designed to help prepare candidates for the solemn national security responsibilities that they will assume upon taking office.
As the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump will presumably be eligible for this courtesy in the near future. However, on July 27, 2016, Mr. Trump urged Russian intelligence services to conduct cyberespionage operations into the correspondence of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope that you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily be our press.” In light of these recent statements, we respectfully ask you to rescind Mr. Trump’s access to these briefings.
It is our belief that these statements, when considered in the broader context of the Republican nominee’s prior conduct and ties to the Russian government, warrant a re-examination of his access to this sensitive intelligence. These remarks reflect more than just a lack of good judgment—it is an explicit call for intervention from an adversarial foreign power to undermine the American democratic process, and represents an action just short of outright treason.
Unfortunately, this intervention would be only the latest chapter in Russian efforts to interfere in this presidential election. In May, National Intelligence Director James Clapper announced that the intelligence community had seen some indications that foreign governments were attempting to hack U.S. presidential campaigns. And in June, CrowdStrike identified Russian intelligence agencies as the source behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee—an assessment that has been largely corroborated by the U.S. intelligence community.
The Republican nominee’s call for hostile foreign action represents a step beyond mere partisan politics and represents a threat to the republic itself. It suggests that he is unfit to receive sensitive intelligence, and may willingly compromise our national security if he is permitted to do so. With this in mind, we respectfully ask that you withhold the intelligence briefing to Mr. Trump in the interests of national security.
David N. Cicilline
Member of Congress