President Joe Biden has said his predecessor Donald Trump should not be given access to intelligence briefings because of his "erratic behaviour". US President Joe Biden is refusing to give former president Donald Trump access to intelligence briefings. Photo: AFP The US has a tradition of allowing former presidents to be briefed on the nation's security issues - as a courtesy extended by the incumbent. But when asked by CBS News if Trump would receive the same courtesy, President Biden said: "I think not". He cited Trump's "erratic behaviour" as his reason for refusing access. "I don't think there's any need for him to have an intelligence briefing," Biden said in his first sit-down interview since becoming president. He declined to speculate on what his worst fears would be if Trump were allowed to see classified reports, but he suggested the former president could not be trusted to keep confidential information to himself. "What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?" Biden said. The move is the first time a former president has been excluded from the tradition of being granted continued access to the briefings, according to the New York Times. For weeks after the 3 November presidential election, Trump himself broke with tradition by failing to include his successor in security and intelligence briefings. Trump eventually agreed to allow the formal transition process to take place, but his administration was still accused of blocking Biden's access to intelligence. Trump feuded with the intelligence community throughout his four-year presidency and went through six national intelligence directors. He questioned reports by US agencies that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, and assailed intelligence chiefs for being "extremely passive and naive" over Iran. In 2017, he disclosed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about an Islamic State operation in what was seen as a breach of trust by many in the US intelligence community. During his CBS interview, Biden was asked about the impeachment trial Trump is facing in the US Senate for his role in the riot at the Capitol in Washington on 6 January. Biden said he "ran like hell to defeat" Trump in the election "because I thought he was unfit to be president", but he would leave the Senate to decide whether the Republican should be barred from ever holding public office again. Fox cancels vocal Trump supporter Lou Dobbs' show US broadcaster Fox has cancelled the TV programme hosted by Lou Dobbs, a vocal Trump supporter who is accused of using his platform to spread baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election. The news emerged a day after Dobbs was named in a defamation lawsuit filed by the voting machine maker Smartmatic. The $US2.7 billion lawsuit claims the presenter was part of a "disinformation campaign" against the company. Fox, which denies the allegations, says the decision to drop Lou Dobbs Tonight was not linked. The veteran financial journalist, 75, has presented Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network since 2011. He was also an occasional commentator on Fox News, the conservative channel that has been home to several staunch supporters of Trump. - BBC
Former US president Barack Obama has returned to the campaign trail with a blistering attack on Donald Trump with less than two weeks to go before the Republican president’s Election Day face-off with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Speaking at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia on behalf of Biden, his former vice president, and Democratic running mate Kamala Harris, Obama offered his fiercest critique yet of his successor. He took aim at Trump’s divisive rhetoric, his track record in the Oval Office and his habit of re-tweeting conspiracy theories.
“With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day,” Obama said. “And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”
Obama, who governed for two terms and remains one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, blasted Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the president himself had fallen victim to the virus.
“Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us,” he said. “He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”
“This is not a reality show. This is reality,” Obama said in a nod to Trump’s past as a reality TV host. “And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”
Obama’s appearance filled a gap left by Biden, who has stayed at home in Delaware since Monday for meetings and preparation ahead of tomorrow’s debate with Trump in Nashville, Tennessee.
The drive-in rally was held in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium in Philadelphia, the city’s skyline visible in the distance. With nearly 280 vehicles spread throughout the lot, it was the largest event of its kind that the Biden campaign has staged during the pandemic.
Don’t be complacent, Obama warns
With a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing Biden with just a 4 percentage point edge in Pennsylvania, Obama warned Democrats against complacency.
“We’ve got to turn out like never before,” he said. “We cannot leave any doubt in this election.”
Americans are voting early at a record pace this year, with more than 42 million ballots cast both via mail and in person ahead of 3 November Election Day on concerns about the coronavirus and to make sure their votes are counted.
The early vote so far represents about 30 percent of the total ballots cast in 2016, according to the University of Florida’s US Elections Project.
Four years ago, Obama participated in a rally in Philadelphia with then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the day before the election, only to see Trump narrowly take the state. The Biden campaign considers winning there a top priority.
In remarks at an evening rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, Trump briefly mentioned Obama, noting that he had supported Clinton in her losing effort. “It was nobody who campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary than Obama, right?”
North Carolina is another battleground state where opinion polls show a tight race. Harris was also in the state today to mobilise voters in Asheville and Charlotte.
Obama won North Carolina in 2008, but lost it in his 2012 campaign. Trump won it in 2016.
Trump argued that coronavirus-related restrictions were harming the state’s economy and complained that Democrats and the news media were overly pre-occupied with the pandemic.
“All you hear is Covid, Covid,” the president said. “That’s all they put on because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”
Even though today marked Obama’s 2020 campaign debut, his support has been essential for Biden. He has appeared at joint fundraisers with Biden and Harris, and his network of well-connected former aides has been instrumental in helping the campaign outpace Trump in bringing in donations.
Biden’s team said Obama would campaign in Miami on Saturday (US time) for the Democratic ticket.
The last days of campaigning are taking place during a surge in cases of Covid-19 and hospitalisations in battleground states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania but also Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.
Pennsylvania has averaged 1500 new cases a day over the past week, a level it has not seen since April, according to a Reuters analysis. North Carolina is averaging 2000 new cases a day over the past week, its highest level yet. The virus has killed more than 221,000 people in the United States.
Polling shows a majority of voters are disappointed in the way Trump has handled the pandemic, which he has repeatedly said would disappear on its own.
Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet in their second and final debate tomorrow, giving the Republican an opportunity to change the trajectory of a race that Biden is leading in national opinion polls.