Oversight Committee Launches Investigation of Security Clearance Problems at White House
Washington, D.C. (Jan. 23, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced a wide-ranging investigation into grave breaches with the security clearance process at the White House and the Transition Team. In a letter to the White House requesting a broad range of documents, Cummings wrote:
“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is launching an in-depth investigation of the security clearance process at the White House and Transition Team in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration, including by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and others.
“The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in current White House systems and practices. The investigation also will seek to determine why the White House is currently defying federal law by failing to provide to Congress information about its security clearance process required by the SECRET Act.
“Last year, General John Kelly, President Trump’s Chief of Staff at the time, conceded that there are major ‘shortcomings’ with the White House’s security clearance process. He warned that the White House ‘should—and in the future, must—do better,’ and he stated that ‘now is the time to take a hard look at the way the White House processes clearance requests.’
“I agree. For the past two years, I have sought information with other Committee Members about a series of extremely troubling incidents regarding the security clearances of some of President Trump’s top aides, but the White House has refused to provide the information we requested, often ignoring our requests completely.”
Cummings’ letter seeks information about reports of security clearance issues involving multiple current and former officials, including:
Cummings also seeks documents relating to former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s review of security clearance processes in 2018, which reportedly found that 34 White House officials who had started working on the first day of the Trump Administration were still working with interim security clearances as of November 2017 and that more than 130 political appointees in the Executive Office of the President were working with interim security clearances as of that date.
Cummings also asked for documents regarding why the White House is currently violating the SECRET Act—a law passed by both houses of Congress with bipartisan support and signed by President Trump on May 22, 2018—which required the White House to submit a report to Congress by August 2018 on its procedures for adjudicating security clearances.
Cummings sent similar letters today to Vice President Mike Pence in his capacity as Chair of the Transition Team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of State, and the National Rifle Association.