Donald Trump repeatedly claimed he watched a ‘top secret video’ showing millions of dollars being flown to Iran. It turns out he was talking about stock footage of a plane in a news report about the $440m transfer. Trump has since admitted there was no secret video but the incident raises serious questions about what he will do when he gets access to actual top secret information.
Presidential candidates receive classified briefings in the run up to the election so they will be prepared to make crucial decisions as soon as they take office. There have been concerns about Trump’s access to classified information for months. Trump’s lack of impulse control and fondness for bragging could lead him to publicize secrets.
Trump is a unique candidate but there is no way to deny him classified briefings without breaking with long tradition and also denying the same information to Hillary Clinton. Trump will soon have daily briefings on national security issues, though it is difficult to be sure precisely when these will begin.
The video controversy is troubling because it appears Trump legitimately believed what he saw was top secret. Despite thinking it was classified information, he chose to share the information with the public and bragged about it at rallies.
Trump has previously said he knows more about security than the generals. That insupportable claim, combined with his pro-Russia stance and short temper, worries policy and security experts who see a real risk to national security if Trump treats genuine classified information the way he treated a video he believed was top secret.