OPINION: Trump rightfully lost privilege of viewing President Biden’s executive orders


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Biden has signed the same amount of orders in his first two weeks in office as Trump and Obama combined, according to NPR.

In an interview with CBS on Feb. 6, President Joe Biden stated that he did not have the intention of allowing former president Donald Trump to request intelligence briefings in the same way that other presidents such as Bush, Cater, Clinton and Obama can. In the interview, Biden said that Trump’s behavior with classified intelligence prior to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was the reason he would not be allowing him to access the intelligence briefings.  

When asked what his reasons were, Biden said: “What value is there in giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all? Other than he might slip and say something.” While Biden refused to speculate on what Trump might do with these briefings there are many ways he could use them against the current administration if he were to run for office again. Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be a situation where Trump receiving these briefings would benefit Biden, so it seems reasonable that Biden would remove his ability to do so.

It is also worth noting the behavior Biden has said Trump displays with regards to intelligence is backed up by many in the intelligence community. During Trump’s presidency, he played fast and loose with intelligence, and now it has caught up to him. 

The only major argument I have seen in favor of him receiving these briefings is that because it is tradition, it must be beneficial. But tradition, while sometimes rooted in beneficial practices, should not dictate what we do when following tradition could lead the nation to potential harm.

Tradition alone means very little more than the significance we as Americans put into it. We have a tradition of pardoning a turkey every Thanksgiving, but if that bird were to pose even the slightest risk to national security, it’s likely that we’d suspend that tradition rather quickly, until it was safe to continue. 

It is not the privilege of former presidents to receive these briefings, but the privilege of sitting presidents to consult with former presidents when relevant. Unlike former presidents receiving secret service protection, which is granted to them and is necessary for them to return to public life after their presidency, receiving these briefings is not a necessary function of being a former president. Americans have a tendency to mythologize both the office of the president and presidents themselves. 

What is important to remember is that even the highest level of elected official is still just an elected official, and that when they leave office, they should not retain any of the rights and responsibilities of that office except for those that maintain their own security and national security. Trump still has a right to protection, as all former presidents do, and a responsibility not to leak classified information from his time as president. However, he has no right to the intelligence briefings of the Biden administration and, given Trump’s record and potential bid for re-election, it is perfectly reasonable why Biden would not want to share this information with him.