Some officials worry about briefing Trump, fearing spilled secrets

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Donald Trump Goes After President Obama

WASHINGTON, June 2 (Reuters) - Some U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that Donald Trump's "shoot from the hip" style could pose national security risks as they prepare to give him a routine pre-election briefing once he is formally anointed as the Republican presidential nominee.

Eight senior security officials told Reuters they had concerns over briefing Trump, whose brash, unpredictable campaign style has been a feature of his rise as an insurgent candidate. Despite their worries, the officials said the "Top Secret" briefing to each candidate would not deviate from the usual format to avoid any appearance of bias.

Most of the officials asked for anonymity to discuss a domestic political issue.

SEE ALSO: Possible challenger to Trump shares cryptic message

Current and former officials said that the scandal over Hillary Clinton's use of emails also raises concerns about her handling of sensitive information. The likely Democratic nominee is facing an FBI probe into whether security was compromised and laws were broken by her use of a private email server for government business while she was Secretary of State.

"The only candidate who has proven incapable of handling sensitive information is Hillary Clinton," said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "If there is anyone they should be worried about it is Hillary Clinton."

But Trump's lack of foreign policy experience, his volatile style, and his little known team of foreign policy advisers make him a unique case, the officials said.

"People are very nervous," said one senior U.S. security official.

Intelligence and other security and foreign policy officials are also trying to determine "who on (Trump's) team are trustworthy, the official added. "We've never had a situation like this before. Ever."

A spokesperson for Trump's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Other officials downplayed such worries, noting that the traditional briefing, while classified as Top Secret, is mostly a broad overview of national security issues and does not include the most sensitive government secrets about intelligence sources and operations.

In the post-Second World War era, confirmed U.S. presidential nominees have traditionally received the briefing from intelligence officials -- including spy agency chiefs -- covering a broad range of national security issues.

See Donald Trump's biggest fans:

60 PHOTOS
Donald Trump's biggest fans
See Gallery
Some officials worry about briefing Trump, fearing spilled secrets
BURLINGTON, IA - OCTOBER 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets guests after speaking at a campaign rally at Burlington Memorial Auditorium on October 21, 2015 in Burlington, Iowa. Trump leads most polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Fourteen-year-old supporters Kaylie Kilpatrick (C) and her friend James Hanna (L) pose dress like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Sumter, South Carolina, February 17, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
MOBILE, AL- AUGUST 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Trump campaign moved tonight's rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Audience members cheer as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs at a campaign event Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Patrolman James Pittman poses for a selfie with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop at police headquarters in Manchester, N.H., Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A man with a wig dressed like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes a photo of himself before Trump arrives at a campaign event in Tampa, Fla., Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
A member of the audience cheers as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
TOPSHOT - A protester (C) is surrounded by Trump supporters as he tries to disrupt a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on March 13, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida. Primary voters head to the polls on March 15th in Florida. / AFP / RHONA WISE (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump gets a fist bump from supporters during a rally at Radford University in Radford, Va., Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - FEBRUARY 19: Supporters wait for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a rally February 19, 2016 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Trump is campaigning throughout South Carolina ahead of the state's primary. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Liberty University students, Austin Miller, of Salisbury N.C., left, James Ford, of Elkton Md., second from left, Jeremy Boyd, of New York City, center, Josian O'Boyle, of Toronto Canada, second from right, and Cody Hildebrand, of Fayetteville W.Va., pose for photos with their home made t-shirts as they wait for a speech by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a child he pulled from the crowd as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally in New Orleans, Friday, March 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rubs the shoulders of Alex Stypik, as Stypik shows off his T-shirt during a rally Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Bloomington, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attracts autograph seekers during a rally at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss., on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Thousands of people line up at the Richmond International Raceway to get into a political rally with presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a cap that he signed for a supporter during a rally at the Expo Hall of the Richmond International Raceway on October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
LOWELL, MA - JANUARY 4: Robin Roy reacts to Republican candidate for President Donald Trump meeting spectators after a rally in Lowell, Massachusetts on Monday evening January 4, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Shane Hague waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a campaign stop, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Portsmouth, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Supporters hold up campaign signs, and a Trump coloring book, prior to an address by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass., Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Supporters cheer as presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump takes the stage during a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Supporters react as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
BILOXI, MS - JANUARY 02: Supporters of the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump try to get autographs after his appearance at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on January 2, 2016 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Trump, who has strong support from Southern voters, spoke to thousands in the small Mississippi city on the Gulf of Mexico. Trump continues to split the GOP establishment with his populist and controversial views on immigration, muslims and some of his recent comments on women. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NORFOLK, VA - OCTOBER 31: Donald Trump supporters cheer for the Republican presidential while he speaks at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. . With just 93 days before the Iowa caucuses Republican hopefuls are trying to shore up support amongst the party. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks before the Greater Charleston Business Alliance, which supports minority businesses and is affiliated with the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce on September 23, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The candidate shook hands and signed autographs after the event. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Holly Griffin, 8, of Atlanta, wears a hat in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while waiting for Trump to arrive for a campaign rally at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)
NORFOLK, VA - OCTOBER 31: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump motions to the media at a rally in front of the USS Wisconsin on October 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Virginia. . With just 93 days before the Iowa caucuses Republican hopefuls are trying to shore up support amongst the party. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 08: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump invites Myriam Witcher 35 on the stage during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on October 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo with Iowa State fans before an NCAA college football game between Iowa State and Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP) 
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28: Andy Dean, a spin room surrogate for Donald Trump, wears a hat with Trumps signature outside the spin room before Republican Presidential Debate Your Money, Your Vote sponsored by CNBC at the University of Colorado in Boulder, October 28, 2015. The event will be moderated by network anchors Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick and chief Washington correspondent John Harwood. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wave banners during a rally at the Expo Hall of the Richmond International Raceway on October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump supporters hold up a sign reading 'We Are The 68%' before Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump's rally, December 14, 2015 at the Westgate Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. A recent USA Today poll shows 68% of Trump supporters would follow him if he left the GOP to make a third party run for the presidency. Trump will face off with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and six other main stage candidates at tomorrow's GOP debate, hosted by CNN. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Charlotte Browning (C) and Lois Lang (2nd R) bought wigs to look like their favorite candidate, Republican front-runner Donald Trump, while lining up with thousands of others for a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, stops to take a photograph with Jim Tranz, of Port Charlotte, Fla., as he walks with a crowd during the final round of play at The Barclays golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Edison, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to Trump give a speech outlining his vision for tax reform at his skyscraper on Fifth Avenue on September 28, 2015 in New York City. Under the plan there would be four tax categories, with people earning less than $25,000 per year paying 0% tax. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
BURLINGTON, IA - OCTOBER 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets guests after speaking at a campaign rally at Burlington Memorial Auditorium on October 21, 2015 in Burlington, Iowa. Trump leads most polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The crowd cheers when Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks during a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A woman shows excitement when meeting Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump during a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A supporter for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens during a campaign rally, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Laci Lamb, 6, of Lucedale, Miss., looks at a sign before Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Supporters Kathleen Hastings, left, and Elizabeth Musngi, right, cheers Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he speaks during a campaign rally held at the North Atlanta Trade Center, Saturday, Oct., 10, 2015, in Norcross, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Tammy Pickett is illuminated by her cell phone as she listens to a speech by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
A young girl listens as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers his message during a campaign rally at the state fair in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Supporters cheer Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally held at the North Atlanta Trade Center, Saturday, Oct., 10, 2015, in Norcross, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
MOBILE, AL- AUGUST 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Trump campaign moved tonight's rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters after speaking at a campaign rally, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ruth Hindal, left, shows Ann Thomas, both of Des Moines, Iowa, a shirt for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before his arrival at a rally, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listen to him speak before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: A young woman wears a Donald Trump t-shirt as thousands of people line up at the Richmond International Raceway to get into a political rally with presidential candidate and Republican front-runner Donald Trump October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump greets supporters as he arrives to speak during a Tea Party rally against the international nuclear agreement with Iran outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, September 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 14: A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waits for the start of a campaign rally at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on December 14, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Donlad Trump is campaigning in Las Vegas a day ahead of the final GOP debate. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Attendees try to take a photograph of Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, red cap, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. Billionaire Republican 2016 contender Donald Trump said this week unlike rivals such as Jeb Bush, he wouldn't be beholden to big-money campaign donors if elected president. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - DECEMBER 21: Jeanne Contanch (L) and Shelly Kumfer wait for the start of a campaign event with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on December 21, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trump continues to lead the most polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump spoke about illegal immigration and other topics in front of an estimated crowd of 4,200. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
Supporters reach to great Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump as he leaves a brief stop to speak to supporters and the media in Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. Trump predicted Hispanics would love him, because as president he said he'd grab jobs back from overseas and give more opportunity to those who live in the U.S. legally. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump whispers to James âCooperâ Skinner, 9, of Woodbridge, Va., while he lifts hi up to the microphone to ask a question during a campaign rally at the Prince William County Fair Ground in Manassas, Va., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive officer of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, takes a selfie photograph with guests after an interview on Bloomberg Television's 'With All Due Respect' in the lobby of the Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Trump said that he agrees the carried interest tax 'loophole' should be eliminated and that it is 'tremendous burden' on country's finances. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a campaign rally Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 at Robarts Arena in Sarasota, Fla. Speaking before thousands who jammed into the arena, Trump said he's "killing everybody" in polls nationally and in early voting states. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
Attendee Lucy Weatherwax Chalmers from Palm Springs, California, places her hand over her heart during the Pledge of Allegiance at a Tea Party Patriots rally against the Iran nuclear deal on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. A revolt among U.S. House Republicans delayed action on the Iran nuclear deal today as some members insisted they aren't bound by a Sept. 17 deadline in their efforts to kill the agreement. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The nominees are usually briefed shortly after their party nominating conventions, and are allowed to include one or two aides who must undergo security checks. Current and former officials say the nominees are explicitly warned not to share the contents of the briefing, which includes detailed intelligence assessments.

After election day, presidents-elect receive the same Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, that the sitting president gets, complete with material on the intelligence agencies' sources, methods, and covert operations.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Reuters that he shared some of the concerns over how Trump, who has never held public office, might use information from the briefing.

"I would be very concerned with Mr. Trump's ability to know what he can and can't discuss" publicly about the contents of an intelligence briefing, said Schiff, who has endorsed Clinton for president.

Schiff said one consequence of intelligence agencies' worries about Trump's reputation as a loose cannon could be that briefers circumscribe some of the information they provide to Trump and Hillary Clinton, his prospective Democratic opponent.

Trump has tended to make broad-brush statements on foreign issues rather than delve into policy nuances. He drew criticism from some former national security officials last month when, without evidence, he quickly tweeted that the downing of an EgyptAir flight appeared to be a terrorist attack.

Clinton is honing in on national security as a key potential weakness for Trump, and is set to deliver a foreign policy speech on Thursday designed to portray the billionaire businessman as unfit for the White House.

SAME BRIEFING FOR BOTH?

Officials familiar with the views and policy of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's Office, which will give the in-person briefings, say it will do its utmost to avoid any suggestions of political favoritism or bias.

Officials say the spy agencies' intend to follow past practice and give identical briefings to both nominees.

One former intelligence official said Clinton could have an advantage in the briefing because she would likely ask more probing questions than Trump, a newcomer to foreign policy.

The briefings provide an "overview of pressing issues and hot spots around the world," said former CIA officer David Priess, who briefed attorneys general and FBI directors, but not presidents.

One U.S. intelligence official said that Trump's style may not be such a risk because the briefings are general in nature and often track publicly available information.

"If he reads the papers every day, he won't hear much that will surprise him," the official said.

Current and former officials said that covert operations and the intelligence agencies' "sources and methods," which are among the nation's most tightly guarded secrets, are never discussed in the pre-election briefings.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting By John Walcott; Editing by John Walcott and Stuart Grudgings)

Read Full Story

People are Reading