A White House whistleblower is claiming that Trump officials gave security clearances to 25 people who had previously been denied them, House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said on Monday.
The whistleblower is Tricia Newbold, a career White House civil servant in the personnel security office. Newbold sat for a day-long, closed-door interview with lawmakers on the committee, Cummings said in an April 1 letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
“I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security,” Cummings quotes Newbold as saying.
She purportedly added that she fears retaliation from her politically appointed supervisors, supposedly telling the committee, “I’m terrified of going back.”
The identities of approximately 25 officials who were issued security requests or provided with access to national security information are not clear from the documents.
However, Cummings does request “adjudication summaries” for John Bolton, Michael Flynn, Sebastian Gorka, Jared Kushner, John McEntee, K.T. McFarland, Robert Porter, Robin Townley, and Ivanka Trump.
According to the letter, those with reversed security clearance decisions include “two current senior White House officials, as well as contractors and individuals throughout different components of the Executive Office of the President.”
Newbold purportedly told the committee that Trump administration officials lowered the bar on certain criteria used to establish whether people can be granted access to classified information.
For example, the whistleblower claims that the White House stopped conducting credit checks on incoming staff.
While that may not be surprising at a White House run by a president who once called himself the “King of Debt”, Newbold is quoted as arguing that a low credit score could indicate debts staggering enough to render someone “susceptible to blackmail.”
Cummings wrote that he is preparing to issue a subpoena to depose former White House personnel security director Carl Kline, who served in that position for the first two years of the Trump administration.
The Oversight Committee chair said that he intended to ask Kline about “the security clearance practices in place when he was at the White House, the treatment of specific security clearance adjudications during his tenure, and his interactions with the whistleblower.”
Cummings said in a statement that the first subpoena would be authorized on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after an increasingly heated back-and-forth between Cummings and the White House over the security clearance issue, with White House officials allegedly stonewalling the committee’s document and interview requests.
Much of that has had to do with Trump allegedly ordering a security clearance for presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner over the concerns of national security officials.
“The White House must respect Congress’ co-equal and independent authority to investigate who has been given access to our nation’s secrets, how they obtained that access, the extent to which national security has been compromised, and whether Congress should amend current laws to improve national security and enhance transparency over these decisions,” Cummings said in the April 1 statement.
Read Rep. Cummings’s letter below: