Saturday 15 December 2018

Hillary Clinton receives first intelligence briefing as Democratic nominee

Hillary Clinton was given an intelligence briefing
Hillary Clinton was given an intelligence briefing
Hillary Clinton was given an intelligence briefing as is customary for would-be presidents

Hillary Clinton received her first national security briefing on Saturday as the Democratic presidential nominee, meeting with intelligence officials for an overview of the major threats facing the nation around the globe.

Mrs Clinton attended the briefing for more than two hours at the FBI office in White Plains, New York, near her suburban New York City home.

Republican Donald Trump received his briefing earlier this month, a customary move for major party nominees but one that has been the subject of a political tussle during the campaign.

MR Trump was campaigning on Saturday in Iowa, headlining Republican senator Joni Ernst's annual Roast And Ride fundraiser at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

The celebrity businessman was not planning to join the 42-mile motorcycle ride that is part of the event but bringing his campaign to a state where polls show a tight contest, a rare bright spot for Mr Trump amid a sea of challenging battleground states.

The activities capped a week that saw some of the harshest exchanges between the two presidential rivals, with Mrs Clinton asserting in an MSNBC interview on Friday that Trump's campaign was built on "prejudice and paranoia" and he had catered to a radical fringe of the Republican Party.

Mr Trump, who is trying to win over moderate voters and minorities who have been unsettled by some of his provocative remarks and policy proposals, has tried to paint Mrs Clinton as a racist.

The Republican released an online video that includes footage of the former first lady referring to some young criminals as "super predators" in the 1990s. The video also shows Mrs Clinton's former Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, denouncing the phrase as "a racist term". Mrs Clinton has since apologised.

Mrs Clinton has said that Mr Trump and his supporters have taken on extremist views, casting the race as "not a normal choice between a Republican and a Democrat".

The back-and-forth has been waged in the national security space.

As President Barack Obama's secretary of state, Mrs Clinton held a high security clearance and received a copy of the President's Daily Brief - the highest-level US intelligence document that includes sensitive intelligence and analysis from around the world.

Saturday's briefing was Mrs Clinton's first since becoming her party's nominee. Mr Trump received his first briefing earlier this month.

The briefings, which are delivered by career staffers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, have been customary for presidential nominees for more than 60 years to ensure a smooth transition for the next commander in chief. But the lead-up to the briefings for both candidates have been steeped in politics.

Prior to Mr Trump's briefing, leading Democrats questioned whether the celebrity businessman could responsibly handle receiving sensitive information because of some of his comments, including the suggestion that Russia should attempt to hack Mrs Clinton's emails.

Mr Trump and his supporters have said that Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server and FBI director James Comey's rebuke of her "extremely careless" handling of classified information at the State Department should bar her from receiving the briefing.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, wrote to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, saying that many questions remain about how Mrs Clinton handled her email and requested she not receive the briefings for the remainder of the campaign.

But Mr Clapper rejected Mr Ryan's request, responding that the meetings would be provided on a non-partisan basis. "I do not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate," Mr Clapper wrote.

Mr Trump is also trying to shore up his standing with Latino voters. In Las Vegas, Mr Trump met on Friday with two dozen Latino supporters to discuss strategies for boosting Hispanic turnout in the swing state. He has sought to make the case that his economic policies would be better for small minority-owned businesses than those of Mrs Clinton.

"People don't know how well we're doing with the Hispanics, the Latinos," Mr Trump said at his hotel just off the Vegas Strip. "We're doing really well."

Mr Trump has suggested that minorities have been left behind by Democratic economic policies and hammered the nation's sluggish GDP growth as "a catastrophe".

But he has continued to send mixed signals about a key issue for many Latinos: immigration. While he has not wavered on his desire to build an impenetrable wall along the border with Mexico, he exhibited indecisiveness in recent days about his plan to deport 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally.

Aides have said he would announce his immigration policy in a speech in the coming days, but his campaign has yet to set a date.


Press Association

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