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The White House’s security clearance problem

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Tell Wayne Stone, acting inspector general for the intelligence community:

"Investigate the White House’s security clearance policy."

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    The White House’s security clearance problem

    Rob Porter resigned from his White House job after allegations broke that he emotionally and physically abused his ex-wives. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Counsel Donald McGahn both knew that Porter’s wives had reported his abusive behavior.1 Trump and Kelly both defended Porter after he resigned.2

    It is appalling but unsurprising that the misogynist-in-chief’s White House would elevate and celebrate a man accused of domestic violence. But in doing so, the Trump White House senior staff allowed Porter to have daily access to sensitive and often classified information without a security clearance – a clearance that was held up by the FBI flagging that one of his ex-wives said he might be susceptible to blackmail3

    The White House’s incompetence goes far beyond sweeping domestic violence under the rug or even letting one staffer access information beyond his security clearance. The Trump regime has dozens of staffers with high-level access to sensitive information who have not been cleared by the FBI.4

    Tell Inspector General for the intelligence community Wayne Stone: Investigate the White House’s security clearance policy.

    In an effort to save face after the Porter scandal, Kelly announced an overhaul of the security clearance process, but already the White House is making major exceptions – notably for Jared Kushner.5 Kushner is among those who are working at the White House without permanent security clearance.6 Trump’s son-in-law has been embroiled in the Russia investigation, in particular after it was revealed he lied about meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.7 Kushner has even higher level access to classified information than Porter did and it is unacceptable that Trump and Kelly are breaking their own weak rules to keep him there. It’s not ok for the White House to pick and choose when it follows security clearance protocol. It is potentially a huge national security risk.

    Senate Democrats, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mazie Hirono, have requested information from Wayne Stone, the acting inspector general for the intelligence community, but unless there is a huge outcry from the public to demand an investigation, the Trump regime will be allowed to jeopardize national security.8

    Tell Inspector General for the intelligence community Wayne Stone: Investigate the White House’s security clearance policy.

    According to Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro, “A high-quality and timely personnel security clearance process is essential to minimize the risks of unauthorized disclosures of classified information and to help ensure that information about individuals with criminal histories or other questionable behavior is identified and assessed.”9 But that is simply not happening. There is a huge backlog of pending security clearance requests – more than 700,000 – likely created in part by disorganization and understaffing at the White House.10

    While it is unsurprising that Trump staffers with a history of discrediting survivors kept Porter in his role, it is unacceptable that Kelly and McGahn dismissed the credible concern of Porter’s ex-wife who believed he would be susceptible to blackmail. A red flag like that should have been enough for them to fire Porter from a role that gave him access to sensitive, top secret materials. Instead, they let him continue to work and even came to his defense when he resigned. Kelly went so far as to call Porter a “man of true integrity and honor.”11

    If this is what Trump and his top staff think integrity looks like, it raises major questions about what other flags the FBI has brought to Trump staff that they have decided to ignore. This is a huge problem for national security – concerns about high-level staffers that would be disqualifying in any other administration are being ignored, and the public deserves an investigation.

    Tell Inspector General for the intelligence community Wayne Stone: Investigate the White House’s security clearance policy.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Andrew Prokop, “The Rob Porter scandal keeps getting worse for Trump’s White House,” Vox, Feb. 9, 2018.
    2. CBS News, "Trump praises Rob Porter, aide who resigned over spousal abuse allegations,” Feb. 9, 2018.
    3. Prokop, “The Rob Porter scandal keeps getting worse for Trump’s White House.”
    4. Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, “As Jared Kushner’s security clearance is delayed, White House hesitates to act on others with possible problems,” The Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2018.

    5. Dan Merica, “White House says new security clearance policy will not affect Kushner's work,” CNN, Feb. 20, 2018.
    6. Brian Naylor and Domenico Montanaro, “White House Security Clearance Trouble Shines Light On 'High Risk' Backlog Problem,” NPR, Feb. 10, 2018.
    7. Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous and Greg Miller, "Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin," The Washington Post, May 26, 2017.
    8. Elizabeth Castillo, “Democrats request investigation into White House security clearance process,” POLITICO, Feb. 8, 2018.
    9. Naylor and Montanaro, “White House Security Clearance Trouble Shines Light On 'High Risk' Backlog Problem."
    10. Ibid.
    11. Josh Dawsey, Beth Reinhard and Elise Viebeck, “Senior White House official to resign after ex-wives’ allegations of abuse,” The Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2018.