Tricia Newbold had worked in the White House across four administrations, Democrats and Republicans, so when the employee charged with helping make decisions on who could receive security clearances saw what she believed were dangerous abuses, she felt it her duty to speak up.
Instead of being praised for pointing out potential breaches of national security, the woman who suffers from a rare form of dwarfism was reportedly met with bullying that included a Trump-appointed official who purposely put objects out of her reach in the office.
As the New York Times reported, Newbold had come forward to speak out against what she saw as abuses of the security clearance protocol. Newbold said there was rampant mismanagement of the office and that the Trump administration overruled on more than two dozen employees who were denied security clearances because of significant issues like financial concerns or potential foreign influences.
Newbold, who sees herself as an employee in service of the American people and not connected to any one party or administration, felt she needed to come forward and inform Congress of the alleged abuses.
“She wasn’t looking for trouble,” her lawyer, Edward Passman, told The New York Times. “And she wasn’t looking to go public. But her back was to the wall and she did what she had to do.”
Newbold claims that her decision to come forward was met with bullying from Carl Kline, the former director of the White House Personnel Security Office where she worked. As the report noted, Newbold filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that the Trump-appointed director bullied her by moving office files to a shelf several feet above her, where she was unable to reach them.
As NBC News reported, Newbold was also suspended without pay by Kline for allegedly defying her superiors — by forgetting to scan documents in separate PDF files instead of a single PDF file when sending them to other agencies, which was the office’s new policy. It was the first disciplinary action she had ever faced in her 18-year career in the White House.
"She wasn’t looking to go public. But her back was to the wall and she did what she had to do.” My story about a longtime White House employee who blew the whistle on questionable security clearance practices https://t.co/7K8Q23HDPo
— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) April 2, 2019
There had already been much attention on the process of authorizing security clearances after a New York Times report claiming that Donald Trump personally overruled experts who said Jared Kushner should not be given a clearance. The report claimed that Trump ordered Chief of Staff John Kelly to give Kushner a top secret clearance. Trump has the ultimate authority on who should receive security clearances, but the report noted that administrations traditionally heed the recommendations from security experts from the office where Tricia Newbold works, as they put candidates through a rigorous vetting process to uncover potential outside pressures.