White House Overruled Security Clearance Denials

The Trump administration compelled security clearances for 25 individuals previously denied by career officials, a whistleblower has told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Personnel Security Office Adjudications Manager Tricia Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the office, “informed the Committee that during the Trump Administration, she and other career officials adjudicated denials of dozens of applications for security clearances that were later overturned,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. “As a result, she warned that security clearance applications for White House officials ‘were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.’”

Cummings said Newbold had provided the committee with a document she created “listing approximately 25 individuals who were granted security clearances or eligibility to access national security information despite recommendations to deny their applications.”

Now that Newbold has come forward and gone on the record “at great personal risk to warn Congress—and the nation—about the grave security risks she has been witnessing first-hand over the past two years,” the committee will begin issuing subpoenas to obtain documents and information it had requested repeatedly from the White House.

“In light of the grave reports from this whistleblower—and the ongoing refusal of the White House to provide the information we need to conduct our investigation—the Committee now plans to proceed with compulsory process and begin authorizing subpoenas, starting at tomorrow’s business meeting,” Cummings wrote, starting with Carl Kline, formerly Personnel Security Director at the White House during the first two years Trump was president.  

Cummings accused the White House of thwarting the Oversight Committee’s investigation of the security clearance processes after it came to light that the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received clearance after career officials in the Personnel Security Office had denied it.

The letter called on the White House to voluntarily hand over by April 5 the information previously requested on the security clearance process, including policy documents prior to June 21, 2018, adjudication summaries and post-decisional documents for the likes of Ivanka Trump, Kushner, National Security Adviser John Bolton, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former White House Staff Secretary Robert Porter and others in the administration’s circle.

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