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Drugs, crime, and foreign ties aren’t enough to deny a White House security clearance, whistleblower says

The White House issued security clearances to 25 people who’d initially been denied for having glaring red flags all over their applications.

by Greg Walters
Apr 1 2019, 6:33pm

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WASHINGTON — Jared Kushner can probably thank nepotism for winning a security clearance that even President Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly opposed, but he’s hardly the only one whose approval set off alarm bells, according to House Democrats.

In fact, the White House issued security clearances to 25 people who’d initially been denied for having glaring red flags all over their applications, a whistleblower working inside the White House has told Congress.

Tricia Newbold, a manager working in the White House’s Personnel Security Office, recently stepped forward out of concern that these security clearances may prove a threat to national security and provided hours of closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee last month.

The 25 people in question initially saw their applications blocked for “a wide range of serious disqualifying issues,” House Democrats wrote in a memo released Monday, including:

  • Questions about foreign influence
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Troubling personal conduct
  • Financial problems
  • Drug use
  • Criminal conduct

Now, Democrats in Congress are demanding that the White House explain how those clearances were issued, and that the administration turn over relevant files and send officials to testify on Capitol Hill.

Newbold raised her concerns with her managers inside the White House without getting any resolution, she told the committee.

“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, Democrats wrote.

Democrats didn’t name the 25 officials allegedly granted clearances after initially being denied, but they said the list includes two senior officials still working in the White House. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Kushner are among the 25, CNN reported Monday.

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said he’s prepared to authorize subpoenas as soon as Tuesday for more information from the White House about how the clearances were granted and why the initial decisions to deny them were overruled.

“The Committee now plans to proceed with compulsory process and begin authorizing subpoenas, starting at tomorrow’s business meeting,” Cummings wrote Monday in a letter sent to White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

The top-ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, accused Cummings of playing politics with the issue and of making a partisan attack on President Trump.

“Chairman Cummings’ investigation is not about restoring integrity to the security clearance process,” Jordan said in a statement. “It is an excuse to go fishing through the personal files of dedicated public servants.”

Cover: President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One. Trump will delivering remarks at a Make America Great Again rally on Grand Rapids, MI and then he will be heading to Palm Beach, FL., for the weekend on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)