How much intelligence does an incumbent President have to share with a President-Elect?

How much intelligence does an incumbent President have to share with a President-Elect?
I’m not sure whether Obama and Trump communicate much, if such communication is at the pleasure of Obama or whether there is a protocol to share classified information. I look forward to your feedback

It would seem irresponsible if one functionary refused knowledge of dangers to his successor out of feeble spite.
Like a school janitor not saying where a gas leak is imminent to his replacement.

I read recently that the daily intelligence briefings are sent to both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump every morning.

ETA: Or rather, they are offered to Mr. Trump, he doesn’t have to accept them (cite).

Have to share? None. There is no law governing it. Harry Truman established the practice when he was president and it has continued but only tradition, logic, and the threat of bad publicity has kept it happening every transition. I’m sure the fact that as Vice President Truman was in the dark about the Manhattan Project made him feel it was necessary.

Thanks Loach. That begs the question whether the briefings entail different levels of intelligence. The president carries the nuclear codes, the President-Elect does not. How do the dynamics change after December 19th when Trump becomes the President? Does Obama still receive intelligence briefings until the inauguration? If so how would the levels of intelligence vary, if at all?

Trump does not becomes president until January. Holding the electoral college vote (or the counting thereof) does not make one president.

What information would an incumbent President have that wouldn’t be shared with the President-Elect as soon as the P-E was inaugurated?

Unless we are talking about “here’s a heads-up - I was planning on invading North Korea on January 19”. Not “here’s a list of the people I was going to pardon” or “I am meeting regularly with the Senators of my party to figure out how to stop you from implementing anything you want to do”.

Sooner or later you have to rely on the current President acting in good faith to facilitate the transition and do what can be done to get the next President up to speed ASAP in the interests of the country. Keeping your successor in the loop on things he will have to deal with is part of that.

Like Loach says, there is no law that a President can’t be vindictive and leave some nasty surprise to blow up in the next President’s face, but so far AFAIK no President has put that kind of pettiness ahead of “you got elected - I’ll do what I can to smooth the transition and trust God for the rest”.


Sorry. I thought the electoral vote makes him legally President. The inauguration I thought is just a formal swearing-in of the President. Can Trump not call himself President Trump once the Elector College has elected him President?

He can call himself anything he wants, but he isn’t president until he takes the oath of office. He cannot preform any duties of the actual president until then.

OK I looked it up. Thank you for that correction

Thanks Shodan, but going back to my question of the level of intelligence. Since he is not legally president until he is sworn in, he’s not going to be briefed as if he were President. President and President-Elect will communicate and get along until the inauguration but the level of briefings in terms of intelligence would differ, would they not?

Carrying nuclear codes has literally nothing to do with intelligence briefings. Intelligence briefings are about making sure someone knows what is going on in the world; carrying nuclear codes, living in the White House, vetoing legislation, are about carrying out the duties of President.

It is widely reported that Presidents-elect (not just Trump, but his predecessors as well) are able to receive the President’s Daily Brief. This is the most secret intelligence briefing there is, which is provided only to the President, Vice President, and very, very few others (such as a couple Cabinet secretaries, etc). No member of Congress has access to the PDB itself.

By tradition, not law, Trump appears to be entitled to everything you can imagine so that when he assumes office on January 20th, he is fully up to speed on what’s going on in the world. There is no reason to suspect that anything is being held back.

Thanks Ravenman for clearing up that confusion. Thank you all.

The usual stuff. The alien bodies kept at Area 51, the reasons we’re spreading chemtrail poisons in the air, the REAL Kennedy assassins, etc…

Now that’s just not playing the game right.

Incidentally, what was the term used for the President-Elect before the Obama first used it?

President elect.

Obama didn’t invent the term.

Is this wrong?

The Office of the President-Elect is a title first used by Barack Obama for the body coordinating his transition activities of the President-elect of the United States.

In full from Wikipedia:
The Office of the President-Elect is a title first used by Barack Obama for the body coordinating his transition activities of the President-elect of the United States.

The office is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, nor is it a statutory office of the federal government;[1] however, under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 (P.L. 88-277),[2] amended by the Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act of 1998 (P.L. 100-398),[3] the Presidential Transition Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-293),[4][5] and the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-283)[6] the President-Elect is entitled to request and receive certain privileges from the General Services Administration as he or she prepares to assume office. On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected President-Elect and will be the second president-elect to use the office title for presidential transition.[7]

You’re confusing the term “President-elect,” which has been in use for a long time, with an organizational title used for transition purposes, which is the “Office of the President-elect.” They are two different things.