Kushner not focus of White House whistleblower's security-clearance complaint

Kushner not focus of White House whistleblower's security-clearance complaint

Kerry Wise
April 3, 2019

A whistle-blower working inside the White House has told a House committee that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been denied by career employees, the committee's Democratic staff said Monday.

Tricia Newbold, a security adviser of 18 years, said applications had been denied over concerns about foreign influence, drug use and criminal conduct only to later be approved by senior Trump aides with little explanation.

Republicans argued in response that Democrats on the committee released "cherry-picked excerpts" of the interview with Newbold to "manufacture a misleading narrative that the Trump White House is reckless with our national security".

Cummings released a memo Monday detailing an interview with a White House employee - whom he described as a whistleblower - that alleges that the White House has overturned the security clearance denials of 25 individuals, including two current senior White House officials, saying those decisions were occurring "without proper analysis, documentation, or a full understanding and acceptance of the risks".

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday blasted Jared Kushner's use of WhatsApp to communicate with Saudi officials and lax security at the White House during a House Oversight Committee hearing.

"I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security", Newbold told the committee, according to a panel document summarizing her allegations.

A White House whistleblower says the Trump administration overruled security experts to give questionable security clearances to more than two dozen people. I mean, really, what is next?

In his letter to the White House, Mr Cummings referred to three unnamed "senior White House officials" whose security clearance cases were addressed in some detail by Ms Newbold.

The subpoena will be for the deposition of Carl Kline, who served as the White House personnel security director and supervised Newbold.

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In his ten years on the Oversight committee, Jordan said he'd "never seen anything like this".

In a letter sent to White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Monday, Cummings said Kline had not responded to the committee's requests that he testify voluntarily.

Rep. Jim Jordan of OH, the committee's ranking Republican, said in a statement that Cummings' probe is a "partisan attack" and an "excuse to go fishing" through personnel files.

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

Instead, she said, the White House retaliated.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has largely stood by the young crown prince, even as USA lawmakers have pushed for the White House to investigate the murder and have renewed calls for the U.S. to end arms deals with the kingdom.

The Maryland Democrat said Kline representatives had told him that "they might have him come in but that he would be limited to only talking about the process in general and would not talk about what happened in these cases".

"Chairman Cummings' investigation is not about restoring integrity to the security clearance process, it is an excuse to go fishing through the personal files of dedicated public servants", Jordan said.

It also said Ms Newbold told congressional investigators that a second person, referred to as "senior White House Official 2", was the subject of a 14-page memo laying out "multiple disqualifiers" including foreign influence and outside activities. That clearance was also granted. They say the Trump administration has declined to provide those documents despite repeated requests.