Even though Hillary Clinton is under FBI investigation for potentially mishandling classified information, White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said on Thursday that she should receive customary classified briefings if chosen as the Democratic presidential nominee because she has “a lot of experience understanding the need to protect classified information.”
Earnest did not extend the same confidence to Clinton’s likely GOP opponent, Donald Trump, however.
The spokesman said that James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, will ultimately make the decision about what classified information to provide the two presidential candidates.
“What information they provide, how often they provide, whether or not it is the same information for the two candidates, those are questions that I would direct to Mr. Clapper’s office,” Earnest told reporters.
Earnest was also asked whether the administration has confidence that Clinton can properly maintain, store and receive classified information even though the FBI is investigating her private email server, which contains at least 22 “Top Secret” emails.
“Yes, we do,” Earnest said.
Does the same hold true for Trump?
“Um, again, we’ll have to see what decision the director of national intelligence makes. I guess I can’t offer my own assessment,” Earnest said, stammering.
“Secretary Clinton has obviously served this administration with distinction,” he said of his party’s likely nominee. “And she has got a lot of experience understanding the need to protect classified information.”
Clinton’s off-the-books email system was comprised of a personal email account and private server that she maintained in the basement of her home. The device was managed by one information technology specialist who had worked on her 2008 presidential campaign. Besides the 22 “Top Secret” emails that were sent across the server, Clinton sent or received more than 2,000 emails containing “confidential” information. Several dozen more contained “Secret” information.
In February, Bloomberg published a report raising questions over whether Clinton should be allowed to maintain her security clearance in light of the FBI investigation.
Earlier on Thursday former Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harmon said she was relieved that Trump will begin receiving classified briefings. (RELATED: Former Democratic Congresswoman: It Relieves Me Trump Will Get Classified Intel Briefings)
“I think he can learn about the complexities of some of these issues in a way he has not yet learned,” she said on MSNBC.
Another Democrat, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, held an opposing view.
“He wouldn’t think twice of taking classified information and putting it out in the public realm if he thought it served his political purposes,” Murphy said of Trump.