Trump, Clinton Get White House Notice on Intelligence Briefings

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President Barack Obama speaks on Aug. 2, 2016, in Washington.

Photographer: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
  • Obama yesterday called Trump ‘unfit’ for the presidency
  • Briefings are part of transition process for next president

A day after President Barack Obama called Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “unfit” to hold the nation’s highest office, the White House said it’s notified his campaign as well as that of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that their intelligence briefings can get underway.

“This administration is committed to working with both the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at a briefing on Wednesday. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough called both campaigns to tell them that the briefings are available, Earnest said. He didn’t say when those calls were placed.

The administration is adhering to law and convention for the transition to the next U.S. president in January, rather than heeding calls by both Democrats and Republicans who have questioned whether the candidate they oppose should be allowed access to some of the nation’s most sensitive information.

Trump last week suggested that Russia hack into Clinton’s e-mails and mistakenly described Russia’s presence in Ukraine. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid suggested in an interview with the Huffington Post last week that the intelligence community give Trump fake briefings, to protect national secrets. Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan have meanwhile said Clinton’s handling of her e-mail as secretary of state, described as "extremely careless" by FBI director James Comey, should disqualify her from receiving classified briefings.

There is a formal White House transition process that’s directed in part by a law Obama signed this year. The process includes top-secret intelligence briefings, funding and office space provided by the federal government following the parties’ nominating conventions, which concluded last week.

The briefings have not yet begun, Earnest said, and must be requested by the candidates.

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