With Donald Trump slated to step down as president of the United States on January 20th of next year, national security experts and officials are worried by the prospect of the outgoing president using America's secrets to benefit himself financially in future business deals overseas.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Trump often used hints about the country's nuclear capabilities to cow other countries to bend to his will, and now officials worry he will use what he knows to curry favor with the governments of countries where he might want go forward with real estate ventures.
"No new president has ever had to fear that his predecessor might expose the nation’s secrets as President-elect Joe Biden must with Trump, current and former officials said," the Post reports. "Not only does Trump have a history of disclosures, he checks the boxes of a classic counterintelligence risk: He is deeply in debt and angry at the U.S. government, particularly what he describes as the “deep state” conspiracy that he believes tried to stop him from winning the White House in 2016 and what he falsely claims is an illegal effort to rob him of reelection. "
According to former CIA official David Priess, "Anyone who is disgruntled, dissatisfied or aggrieved is a risk of disclosing classified information, whether as a current or former officeholder. Trump certainly fits that profile.”
Jack Goldsmith, who ran the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration agreed but held out a bit of hope the president won't do much damage.
“A knowledgeable and informed president with Trump’s personality characteristics, including lack of self-discipline, would be a disaster. The only saving grace here is that he hasn’t been paying attention,” he told the Post.
Earlier reports from the New York Times stated that the president has approximately $421 million in debt coming due soon, and the president is expected to be facing massive legal bills after losing the protection of the office from lawsuits and criminal charges.
"Experts agreed that the biggest risk Trump poses out of office is the clumsy release of information. But they didn’t rule out that he might trade on secrets, perhaps in exchange for favors, to ingratiate himself with prospective clients in foreign countries or to get back at his perceived enemies. When he leaves office, Trump will be facing a crushing amount of debt, including hundreds of millions of dollars in loans that he has personally guaranteed," the report states.
According to Larry Pfeiffer, who served as chief of staff to former CIA Director Michael Hayden, "People with significant debt are always of grave concern to security professionals. The human condition is a frail one. And people in dire situations make dire decisions. Many of the individuals who’ve committed espionage against our country are people who are financially vulnerable.”
You can read more here.