Chief of Staff John Kelly approved an overhaul to the White House security clearance review process Friday, amid controversy over how the White House handled allegations of domestic abuse against top aide Rob Porter.
The five-page memo was sent to White House counsel Don McGahn, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and deputy chief of staff Joseph Hagin, according to USA Today,
“The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has.been carefully vetted especially those who work closely with the President or handle sensitive national security information,” Kelly said. “We should and in the future, must do better.”
Kelly said that individuals with interim clearances pending since June would be revoked on Feb. 23. It is unclear how this mandate will affect high-profile staffers like Jared Kushner, who is working on an interim clearance and is not expected to be granted full clearance in the near future.
Kelly also said that interim clearances handed out in the future will last a maximum of 180 days, and only if the FBI hasn’t uncovered "significant derogatory information." He added any derogatory information discovered should be reported in 48 hours.
Kelly said that he had reduced the number of clearances in the White House and in some cases, demoted others.
“Now is the time to take a hard look at the way the White House processes clearance requests,” Kelly said.
Kelly came under fire in recent weeks for how the White House handled allegations that top aide Rob Porter domestically abused his ex-wives. Controversy swirled over when the administration knew, and why Porter, who resigned last week, continued to be staff security, a position that allows close access to the president. The same week, another staffer was fired because he had smoked marijuana in 2013, preventing him from obtaining full clearance.