Ryan: 'Dangerous call' to give Clinton classified briefings

Ryan: 'Dangerous call' to give Clinton classified briefings
© Moriah Ratner

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanLobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America House Democrat calls for halt to lawmakers sleeping in their offices MORE claimed Wednesday it will be “a dangerous call” to give Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff MORE classified intelligence briefings after she receives the Democratic presidential nomination.

Two days after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper rebuffed Ryan’s request to deny Clinton the briefings, the Wisconsin Republican penned an op-ed in The Washington Post warning against Clapper's position.

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"Clapper has refused my request to suspend these briefings, but the American people need to know what accountability Clinton will face — and what safeguards will be put in place to protect this information,” Ryan wrote on Wednesday.

“It’s no small matter to hand over classified information to a person as reckless with our national security as Clinton, absent the voting public’s explicit permission in November,” he said. “If she is elected, those briefings can resume, allowing her more than two months to be fully briefed before she is sworn in as president.

“Until that time, given Clinton’s record of extraordinary lack of discretion and judgment, the risk is just too great.”

Ryan has taken a notably aggressive tone about Clinton’s private email setup following the release of scathing details from the FBI’s investigation that did not amount to a federal indictment. He has questioned the decision of FBI Director James Comey and implored Clapper to make the radical move of barring the former secretary of State from the briefings usually given to presidential nominees.

His op-ed on Wednesday was noteworthy for its criticism of Clapper, a career intelligence official who normally exists above the political fray in Washington.

While Ryan did not take pointed jabs at the top spy, the questioning of his judgment is unusual.

“There is no legal requirement to provide candidates with intelligence briefings, so it seems reasonable for her to lose this privilege,” Ryan wrote.

The FBI discovered that 113 of the emails on Clinton’s private server contained information that was classified at the time they were sent. Some of that information was classified at the highest level, top secret.

And while Comey has said the bureau did not find any evidence that she had been hacked, he acknowledged it might be possible, given her behavior and apparent disregard for some cybersecurity precautions. 

“The consequences for the safety of our nation are grave,” Ryan warned on Wednesday.

Ryan formally requested Clapper to deny a briefing to Clinton last week.

In a letter to the Speaker on Monday, Clapper noted that briefings for presidential and vice presidential nominees have been taking place for decades and that the recipients “do not require separate security clearances before the briefings.”

“I do not intend to withhold briefings form an officially nominated, eligible candidate,” Clapper told Ryan.