Are there any historically known examples (from memoirs, letters, testimony etc...) of US Presidents discussing classified things with their spouses/lovers?

  • 4
    This question brought to you by re-read of Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor"/"Executive Orders", where Jack Ryan discusses that he never disclosed classified info to his wife - and at-the-moment President Durling immediately proceeds to tell Ryan's wife a bunch of classified info about her husband
    – user4012
    Mar 28, 2017 at 14:12
  • I can't cite specific presidents, but I can say yes undoubtedly. Why? because we have seen how frequently people with clearance discuss their jobs with their partners who don't have clearances. They shouldn't do that, but it happens all the time. At least as president you have a bit more legal leeway with deciding what your allowed to discuss. If us muggles do it regularly then no doubt presidents who have a more solid legal footing for doing so have done it as well.
    – dsollen
    Jan 18, 2023 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


This article by CNN lists out examples of Presidents who discussed classified things with their wives:

  1. Jacqueline Kennedy received the intelligence community's highly classified "Weekly Intelligence Summary" from October 1962 till the summer of 1963.

  2. Lyndon Johnson also discussed policy with Lady Bird Johnson, as she noted in her diary.

  3. Hillary Clinton was also "often provided" with classified information.

There might be other examples too, especially of Presidents in the 19th century which are harder to find, but these are the notable cases that I have occasionally heard of.

  • 3
    On one hand, I would expect 19th century to have more examples as the whole "classified" thing was less of a Thing than now. On the other hand, gender attitudes of 19th century probably made that less likely; Teddy Roosevelt didn't seem to treat his wife as much of a political partner despite his overall progressive attitudes
    – user4012
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:01
  • 3
    Edith Wilson was the unofficial president after Woodrow Wilson had a stroke. She would screen information and then discuss options with him. During that time he surely would have disclosed some classified information to her.
    – JonK
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:05
  • was there classification in the 19th century? I thought we got into it only for the first world war. The British Official Secrets is 1890's I recall, and I'm pretty sure we based ours off theirs.
    – user9389
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:24

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