White House 'reversed security clearance denials'

Apr 07, 2019, 01:35
White House 'reversed security clearance denials'

One focus of the Cummings panel is the security clearance given previous year to President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a White House adviser, over the protests of then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The report, published Wednesday, follows the testimony of veteran White House employee Tricia Newbold before the House oversight committee.

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings released a memo on Monday detailing an interview with Tricia Newbold, a White House employee who has worked for 18 years in Republican and Democratic administrations and now serves as the adjudications manager in the Personnel Security Office. He also said that one person on Newbold's list is a GSA custodian.

Newbold also accused Kline of telling her to, in effect, stand down when she and another colleague raised concerns about another senior White House official.

She added that rejections occurred due to a variety of reasons, including "foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct".

The New York Times reported in February that Trump ordered his chief of staff, John Kelly, to grant a clearance to Kushner past year. When Official 1 applied for an even higher level of clearance, Newbold said that another agency contacted her to determine "how we rendered a favorable adjudication", an inquiry she said reflected the agency's "serious concerns".

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Cummings said Newbold came forward at great personal risk because she feared Republican retaliation.

Two sources familiar with the congressional investigation said that two of the senior officials whose clearances Newbold said were initially denied were Ivanka Trump and Kushner.

According to the letter obtained by CNN, Kline is a current government employee and a former "nonpolitical employee" of the Executive Office of the President and "is more than willing to cooperate with the Committee to the extent he is permitted to do so by law".

Ms Newbold, who has worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, claimed that clearances "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security". "We've bent over backwards trying to accommodate the White House".

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took President Donald Trump's administration to task over the overrides of dozens of security clearance denials.

Ms Newbold said that when she returned to work in February, she was cut out of the security clearance process and removed from a supervisory responsibility.

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He added that he thought a new investigation would now be opened "into those who committed this unlawful, unjust witch hunt, as the president calls it".

Newbold's Washington, D.C. -based attorney, Edward Passman, said Monday night that she did not want to be interviewed.

Kushner, who Trump ultimately demanded be granted a permanent top-secret clearance despite concerns of intelligence officials, told Fox host Laura Ingraham that he "can't comment for the White House's process". The office also announced a plan to "restructure" that would remove her from a supervisory role, she said.

In his 9-page response memo, Jordan knocked down seven other significant claims that Cummings is using to root his investigation - which Jordan called a "reckless decision".

"Really, what is next, putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs?"

Newbold's dispute with Kline over the clearances issue became public earlier this year when she was suspended from her job and reportedly filed a formal whistleblower complaint.

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