House Speaker Paul Ryan sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Wednesday requesting he deny any classified information to Hillary Clinton for the rest of the 2016 campaign.
After FBI Director James Comey called Clinton’s handling of classified material “extremely careless,” Ryan argued in an interview on Fox on Tuesday that the Democratic nominee shouldn’t be permitted to get top secret briefings, but the letter formalizes that recommendation.
Ryan cites his own experience receiving classified intelligence briefings as his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012 in his letter, saying he understands Clinton is set to begin getting similar briefings after her party formally nominates her at the Democratic convention later this month.
“There is no legal requirement for you to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information, and it would send the wrong signal to all those charged with safeguarding our nation’s secrets if you choose to provide her access to this information despite the FBI’s findings,” Ryan writes.
Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee are exploring legislative options to block Clinton’s ability to have classified briefings, but some GOP aides concede the decision is mostly up to the intelligence community.
The top House Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, called the move “as predictable as it is absurd.”
“Providing an intelligence briefing for the party nominees is a sound practice, and is designed both to prepare the candidates for office and to help them avoid representations during the campaign that may adversely affect the national interest before or after election,” he said in a statement. “The call by the House GOP leadership to cancel briefings for Secretary Clinton and brief only Donald Trump is as predictable as it is absurd.”
He added: “With Trump, the question isn’t whether the briefings should occur, but whether they would do any good.”
Separately on Wednesday, Ryan sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey asking him to release all the unclassified materials of his probe of Clinton’s email use.
The speaker’s push comes as Comey testified Thursday morning before the House Oversight Committee.