Donald Trump will bring Michael Flynn ― a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and high-profile adviser to Trump, has attracted attention since he was pushed out of government in 2014 for criticisms of what he says is the Obama administration’s failure to confront “radical Islam,” his role as an analyst on the Russian network RT, and his embrace of Trump.
ABC News reported on Tuesday that Flynn, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, would accompany Trump to his first top-secret briefing, heightening critics’ fears that the Trump camp would gain access to secrets it could potentially leak to contacts in the Kremlin. But former intelligence officials familiar with the the briefings process said it’s unlikely that the presidential nominees or their advisers will be looped in on critical secrets until after the election in November.
It’s not unusual for presidential nominees to bring national security aides to classified briefings. The candidates are automatically eligible for briefings after receiving their party’s nomination, but aides must first be vetted and granted an expedited security clearance, David Priess, author of The President’s Book of Secrets, said in a phone interview. Priess, a former CIA analyst and briefer, said he was not aware of any nominee’s adviser ever being barred from attending a briefing.
A spokesman from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the classified meetings, declined to elaborate on the vetting process for the aides who accompany nominees.
If the intelligence community isn’t alarmed by Flynn’s post-government connections with Russia and its propaganda outlet, it could be an indication of the limited information that will be provided in Wednesday’s briefing.