According to The New York Times, a whistleblower from the White House told a House committee that Trump administration officials gave security clearances to at least 25 people who were formally denied them.
The whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, is a manager in the White House Personnel Security Office. She told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the 25 people included two senior White House officials. The other individuals included contractors and employees working for the president. None of the 25 people are identified.
Last year Trump ordered his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give clearance to his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Kelly recorded the conversation and then left the White House at the end of last year.
Newbold told committee staff members that the clearance applications were denied for various reasons, including “foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct,” according to a memo from the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Oversight Committee chairman, sent the information provided by Newbold in a letter to Pat A. Cipollone, the White House Counsel. Cummings demanded that the White House release files connected to security clearance processes. He also asked that administration personnel be made available for interviews.
“The committee has given the White House every possible opportunity to cooperate with this investigation, but you have declined,” Cummings wrote to Cipollone, calling a briefing that Cipollone provided and on-site document review “general” and unhelpful. “Your actions are now preventing the committee from obtaining the information it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.”
Cipollone argues that the power to grant or deny security clearances “belongs exclusively” to the executive branch, so Congress has no authority to make these “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive demands.”
Cummings plans to issue a subpoena for Carl Kline’s testimony. Kilne served as the head of the personnel security division until recently. He was Newbold’s boss. Cummings also requested summaries of the security clearance adjudication process and related documents for several officials.
Newbold said that one of the two senior White House officials who was given security clearance after being initially denied was denied because of concerns about possible foreign influence. Kline reversed the decision.
The second senior White House official was denied because of possible foreign influence among other concerns. Again, Kline reversed the ruling.
Although the president and his designees can overturn the assessments of officials, Newbold is arguing that the decisions of Kline were unusual, frequent, and irregular.