Senators Want Info On White House Security Clearance Process

February 27, 2018 1:22 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday issued a bipartisan request to White House Counsel Don McGahn and FBI Director Chris Wray for more information on how the Trump administration is handling the process for requesting security clearances.

The letter from Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) comes after reports that some 100 White House staffers, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were working on interim clearances as of November 2017.

“If true, this raises significant concerns that ineligible individuals, who hold positions of public trust, may have access to sensitive or classified information,” the letter reads.

The senators request information, by March 13, on the total number of those working on interim clearances, what sensitive or classified information they have access to, and the exact circumstances surrounding the clearance for fired White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, among other topics.

The Porter debacle prompted renewed scrutiny of the current White House’s processes. Porter was permitted to operate under an interim clearance while the FBI probed well-documented allegations of domestic abuse by his two ex-wives. White House officials including McGahn and Chief of Staff John Kelly were reportedly both aware of the allegations against Porter, and that they were holding up his full clearance.

The situation raised concerns that Porter could have had access to classified information without a full security clearance, potentially endangering national security.

Kelly has since proposed denying or revoking top clearances for any aide whose background check has been pending since last June or earlier. President Trump said it was up to Kelly to decide if Kushner, who fits that description, would have his interim clearance waived or revoked.

The House Oversight Committee is separately conducting an investigation into how Porter managed to keep working under a clearance despite the abuse allegations.

Read the Judiciary Committee’s full letter below:

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