Even though it’s only been a few days since Joe Biden has been declared President-elect there has been much speculation about what damage to the United States Donald Trump could do in his remaining time in office. Some of those concerns already have been realized as Trump has refused to acknowledge that he lost the election and participate in an orderly transition to the incoming Biden administration.
Some, however, are worried about what Trump might disclose once he leaves the White House in January. As do all presidents, Trump will re-enter private life with a trove of national security secrets in his head. But according to current and former national security officials, no other former president has presented as much of a national security and counterintelligence risk as Trump.
First, he has a history of playing fast and loose with top secret information. In his first year in office Trump told Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the United States about highly classified information our spy agencies had received from an ally about Islamic State threats to aviation.
Then in August 2019 he tweeted a highly detailed, at the time classified, image of an Iranian launchpad. National security experts were aghast because both disclosures revealed precise details of America’s spying capabilities.
Those same current and former officials told The Washington Post that Trump “checks the boxes of a classic counterintelligence risk: he is deeply in debt and angry at the U.S. government, particularly what he describes as the ‘deep state’ conspiracy that he believes tried to stop him from winning the White House in 2016 and what he falsely claims is an illegal effort to rob him of reelection.”
Former CIA officer David Priess sums it up this way: “Anyone who is disgruntled, dissatisfied or aggrieved is a risk of disclosing classified information, whether as a current or former officeholder. Trump certainly fits that profile.”
The only possible saving grace is that Trump reportedly doesn’t pay much attention during his presidential intelligence briefings so he probably has very little in depth understanding of how the U.S. national security apparatus actually works.