White House ‘reversed security clearance denials’

White-House

Washington, April 2: A White House whistleblower has told Congress that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances to at least 25 individuals whose applications had been rejected for “disqualifying issues” that could put national security at risk, the media reported.

Whistleblower Tricia Newbold, a manager in the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a private interview on March 23 that the 25 applicants included two current senior White House officials, contractors and others employees working for Donald Trump, CNN reported on Tuesday.

A memo released on Monday by the House Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings didn’t identify any of the 25 people. But CNN reported that Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were on the list.

Newbold claimed that the rejected applications were later reversed with little explanation.

Cummings now plans to issue a subpoena this week demanding an interview with Carl Kline, who served as the personnel Security Director at the White House during Trump’s first two years in office — as part of the Democrats’ investigation into the handling of the security clearance process, including for Kushner and Ivanka.

In an interview on Monday night, Cummings called the situation at the Trump White House “a million times worse” than the controversy involving Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email system while she was Secretary of State.

“Because what you have here are people who literally have the top secrets of the world … and they have not been properly cleared, but even more dangerous than that … the recommendations have gone out to say they shouldn’t have,” the Maryland Democrat told CNN.

“And so that should alarm each and every American.”

“According to Newbold, these individuals had a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct,” Democratic committee staff write in the memo.

The White House didn’t comment on Newbold’s testimony.

Democrats have long claimed that White House officials have abused clearances.

Newbold said she decided to speak to the panel after repeated attempts to share her concerns with superiors were ignored, adding that it was her “last hope to really bring the integrity back to our office”.

The committee said that it was also investigating the background checks of National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Last year, it was widely reported that Trump forced then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant a clearance to Kushner, who until then had been operating under an interim clearance.

In her testimony, Newbold also criticized the White House for “getting out of control” with the number of interim clearance issued, which allowed staff and aides to access classified information.

IANS

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