Cicilline Asks President to Cut Off Trump's Access to Classified Intel

Jul 27, 2016

PAWTUCKET - U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today requested that, in the interest of protecting America’s national security, President Obama withhold classified materials and briefings from Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President.

“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,” wrote Cicilline. “With this in mind, I respectfully ask that you withhold the intelligence briefing to Mr. Trump in the interests of national security.”

Since 1952, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have traditionally received classified national security briefings after securing their party’s nomination. But in recent weeks, Trump’s volatile behavior and murky business dealings have raised serious questions about the depths of his relationship with the Russian government.

Cicilline, who has been a forceful advocate for human rights in Russia, made his request just hours after Trump encouraged the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election by hacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The full text of Cicilline's email is embedded below. A pdf version of his letter is available to view here.

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President Obama,
 

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 by our press.”  In light of these recent statements, I respectfully ask you to suspend Mr. Trump’s access to these briefings.

It is my belief that these statements, when considered in the broader context of the Republican nominee’s prior conduct, 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, I respectfully ask that you withhold the intelligence briefing to Mr. Trump in the interests of national security.

Sincerely,
David N. Cicilline
Member of Congress