Former White House Counsel: Hillary Clinton Should Not Get Intelligence Briefings

FBI director's assessment that Clinton was extremely careless is 'disqualifying'

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A former White House counsel believes Hillary Clinton should have her security clearance revoked due to the FBI’s assessment that she was "extremely careless" with classified information as secretary of state.

C. Boyden Gray, who worked in the White House as legal counsel for both President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said that Clinton should no longer receive daily intelligence briefings after FBI Director James Comey revealed the agency’s finding from its investigation that she was "extremely careless" with "very sensitive, highly classified information."

"I don’t recall ever giving a security clearance to somebody that has been found to have been extremely careless in the handling of sensitive material," Gray said to the Washington Free Beacon. "It would be impossible to do."

If Clinton is elected president this November, she will not be required to have a security clearance for access to top secret information, but that is not yet the case. Although it has been customary for candidates from both parties to receive security briefings during the election, Gray said an exception should be made for Clinton.

"The rules about security clearances, just like the rules about ethics themselves, don’t apply to presidents," Gray said. "Right now she is just a candidate and she is receiving classified hearings. I just don’t know how they can continue."

 "I think there is a question about whether she can qualify today or tomorrow for the daily intelligence briefings that she is getting," Gray added.

The White House was pushed to answer questions on whether it will abide by the tradition of briefing candidates with sensitive material when it became clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee. Press Secretary Josh Earnest was non-committal on the subject.

"The decision about what material to present to the two presidential candidates who are nominated by the two major political parties will be made by our professionals in the intelligence community," Earnest said during a May 6 press conference.

Gray, who first supported Jeb Bush and then Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) this election cycle, said that there should be far more concern about Clinton than Trump.

"Whatever you think about Donald Trump, nobody has ever found him to be extremely careless in dealing with highly sensitive material," he said.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who was given top secret briefings as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, said that Clinton should not receive the same access to classified information.

"I think the director of national intelligence should block her access to classified information given how recklessly she handled this during the presidential campaign," Ryan told Fox News on Tuesday night. "If she becomes president that’s one thing, but I don’t think she should get classified information."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that the department is responsible for following up on security clearances it has issued even if the recipient is no longer employed there, as is the case with Clinton, who served as secretary of state from 2009 to early 2013.

The State Department says that for an individual to receive a security clearance, "it must be determined that the individual’s personal and professional history indicates loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment."

Gray was critical of Comey’s recommendation not to pursue charges against Clinton given that gross negligence is the standard in the legal statute.

"Comey says that Hillary Clinton was extremely careless—that is the standard in the statute, it’s gross negligence," Gray said. "He is exercising his own prosecutorial discretion before the prosecutors ever get to exercise their prosecutorial discretion."

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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