The Trump administration overturned more than two dozen denials for security clearances, a White House whistleblower revealed to members of Congress on Monday.
Tricia Newbold, who worked as a security adviser in the White House, told members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her department denied security clearances for dozens of members of the administration amid serious concerns like the potential for blackmail or foreign influences, but these were reversed by the Trump administration.
As The Washington Post reported, the 18-year veteran of both Republican and Democratic administrations said she tried to warn her superiors that the Trump administration was not acting in the best interests of national security in overruling the experts, but faced a backlash for speaking out.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating how members of the Trump administration were given security clearances despite major red flags but has been met with resistance by the White House in efforts to investigate the matter. The committee’s chairman, Congressman Elijah Cummings, said members would vote this week to subpoena at least one person who overruled Newbold’s decision not to issue a security clearance.
Much attention has fallen on Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and one of the top White House advisers. The New York Times reported in February that the security experts had recommended that Kushner not receive a security clearance because of concerns about his financial situation and potential influences by foreign agents, but the Trump administration ordered then Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant Kushner a clearance.
The story contradicted statements made both by White House officials and by Ivanka Trump claiming that Donald Trump did not direct White House officials to grant Kushner a security clearance. That report named Tricia Newbold as a source who said her team was repeatedly overruled. She cited at least 30 cases that security experts deemed “unfavorable” but were overruled.
Security clearances allow members of the Trump administration to view sensitive documents related to national security and other closely guarded state secrets. There is a rigorous process before granting a security clearance to determine whether the person could be at risk for blackmail or other outside influences that could put those secrets at risk. Though a team of national security experts makes determinations about who should or should not receive these clearances, the final say rests with Donald Trump.
BREAKING: A White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration, called Congress her “last hope” to stop practices she says put nation at risk. https://t.co/GewIf4XZjU— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) April 1, 2019
Elijah Cummings said his committee will issue more subpoenas if the White House refuses to cooperate with the investigation, the Washington Post reported.