Hillary Clinton Receives 1st Classified Briefing as Democratic Nominee

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to media as she meets with law enforcement leaders at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, Aug. 18, 2016.PlayCarolyn Kaster/AP Photo
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Hillary Clinton spent Saturday morning at an FBI facility near her New York home meeting with staffers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence who briefed her on major threats and emerging concerns around the world.

Clinton arrived at the office in White Plains, New York, which is roughly 20 minutes from her Chappaqua home, about 9 a.m. The meeting lasted more than two hours and Clinton attended it alone, a campaign aide said.

The briefing comes 10 days after her main rival, Donald Trump, received his first classified briefing as the Republican Party’s nominee.

Trump took two top advisers to his briefing: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director who has been an outspoken and sometimes controversial supporter of Trump.

Because of the sensitivity of the information discussed during presidential candidate briefings, the sessions must take place in locations with secure rooms, known as Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs). The FBI's office in White Plains has such rooms.

While some top-secret information could have been discussed, the briefing did not include the nation's most sensitive secrets, particularly information on sources, methods and operations.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rallies with longtime friend and colleague Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Aug. 15, 2016.Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton rallies with longtime friend and colleague Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Aug. 15, 2016.

Many of Clinton’s critics have questioned whether she should receive a classified briefing after what they say is the reckless way she handled sensitive information when she was secretary of state.

Some Republican lawmakers have said her use of a private email server -- and what FBI Director James Comey called the "extremely careless" way she subsequently handled classified information -- should prevent Clinton and some of her aides from obtaining security clearances. There's no evidence, however, to indicate that she knowingly sent or received classified information on the server, according to Comey.

DNI Director James Clapper and the White House recently said they have no qualms about briefing the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, noting that providing the briefings is a tradition dating back more than 60 years.

"Ensuring a smooth transition to the next president is a top priority ... and that's important, in part, because of the significant threats around the world," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington, D.C., last month.

He said U.S. intelligence officials "understand what steps are necessary to protect sensitive national security information, and the administration is confident that they can both provide relevant and sufficient briefings to the two major-party presidential candidates while also protecting sensitive national security information."

Clapper said there is no concern in the U.S. intelligence community about providing classified information to either of the presidential candidates, insisting, "It's not up to the administration and certainly not up to me personally to decide on the suitability of a presidential candidate."

"The American electorate is in the process of deciding the suitability of these two candidates to serve as commander-in-chief, and they will make that decision, to pick someone who will be cleared for everything," he said at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last month.

Each of the campaigns decides the location for the classified briefings, according to Clapper.

Clinton and Trump could each receive as many as three classified briefings before Election Day.