House Dems to probe Trump White House security clearance process

January 24, 2019

House Democratic investigators formally launched a probe on January 23 into how the White House “finessed” security clearances for staffers, including those for short-term National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Senior Adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner—accusing the Trump administration of playing fast-and-loose with the nation’s most guarded secrets, according to a report by Politico.

Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) laid out several lines of inquiry on the matter in a letter to the White House, specifically naming Flynn and other top officials whom he says should have raised red flags.

“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is launching an in-depth investigation of the security clearance process at the White House and Transition Team in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump administration,” Cummings aid in the letter to the White House, obtained by NBC News.

The panel will press the White House to provide Congress with information about how and why it issued some security clearances, which Democrats note is required under federal law, Politico said. Democrats say the White House has so far refused to provided that information. Several inquiries on the same issue went unanswered by the administration last year.

The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in current White House systems and practices,” Cummings wrote.

Cummings specifically cited former Chief of Staff John Kelly’s acknowledgment of “shortcomings” in the security clearance process — and Kelly’s statement that the Trump administration “take a hard look” at how the White House handles clearances, Politico reported.

In addition to Flynn and Kushner, Cummings is requesting information on any problems or issues that arose in the security clearance processes for multiple individuals, including: former Deputy National Security adviser K.T. McFarland; National Security Adviser John Bolton; Rob Porter, the ex-White House staff secretary who left amid allegations of spousal abuse; former National Security Council Senior Director Robin Townley; and ex-deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

Research contact: @rachaelmbade