For quite a while, Donald Trump has led the race of the Republicans’ presidential nomination, earning him the “frontrunner” label. But that, of course, applied to a lengthy period in which he had several opponents. Now, Trump is the last man standing in the GOP field, which has led to a new label: “presumptive nominee.”
And while use of the phrase and its precise meaning can vary, “presumptive nominee” tends to be a term of art that refers to something specific in advance of a national nominating convention: the person who will be a major-party presidential nominee in the general election.
And more important than the title are the benefits presumptive nominees receive. As Rachel noted on the show last night, one benefit in particular stands out:
“Now, today, as the presumptive nominee, [Trump] does start to get treated differently. Now starts a process that will see him ultimately get RNC staff and RNC money. He will start to get control of the Republican Party’s bureaucratic apparatus to use for his own purposes.“Yesterday he was accusing Ted Cruz’s dad on being in on the JFK assassination. Now, he’s about to start getting classified CIA briefings as the Republican Party’s nominee for president.”
That last one is easy to overlook, but it’s quite important. Federal officials – non-partisan, career personnel – begin a process every four years of preparing would-be presidents for their prospective responsibilities.
And that means, among other things, classified intelligence briefings, which Trump is eager to receive. By some accounts, Obama administration officials have already begun preparations to provide regular updates to both parties’ presidential nominees, including Trump, with sensitive national security information.
And this opens the door to some interesting possibilities.
TPM’s Josh Marshall noted, for example, that Trump will be receiving classified CIA briefings while his campaign chief “works for pro-Putin Russian oligarchs.” Won’t that be interesting.
But we can keep going with related questions. What would Trump do, for example, if the CIA told him that his anti-Muslim rhetoric was creating a national security threat?
Or more broadly, has anyone started a pool as to when Trump might blurt out sensitive information he’s not supposed to share publicly?
Remember, senators – and to a lesser extent, governors – receive intelligence briefings with some regularity, but Trump has literally no background in public service. This will be a fascinating experiment.