March 08, 2019

Senate Ranking Members Urge Review of White House Security Clearance Policies

Washington – Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote today to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, requesting a review of the Trump administration’s compliance with security clearance policies and procedures. This request comes on the heels of alarming reports that detail how President Trump ignored objections from White House Counsel Donald McGahn and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and granted security clearances to his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner.

“We write to request that you review compliance by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to secure compartmented information (SCI),” the senators wrote. “We also request that you review the adequacy of policies and procedures to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented when eligibility to access to classified information is granted despite potential security risks. We believe that you have the authority and expertise to conduct this review, including in your role as Security Executive Agent under Executive Order 13467.”

The improper handling of these clearances is just the latest in a series of allegations that highlight substantial irregularities and questionable decisions by the Trump Administration. Additional reports claim that former White House Staff Secretary Robert Porter was allowed to handle extremely sensitive information for over a year with an interim clearance, despite his record of domestic abuse, and that the White House overturned an unprecedented 30 clearance adjudication recommendations made by career security professionals.

Noting that the Trump administration is currently working on transforming the security clearance system to reflect new threats, modern technologies, and the nation’s mobile workforce, the senators emphasized the need to ensure that today’s system operates with integrity, especially at the White House.

Full text of the letter is below and a copy can be found here.

March 8, 2019

The Honorable Daniel Coats
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

The Honorable Michael K. Atkinson
Inspector General of the Intelligence Community
Washington, DC 20511

Dear Director Coats and Inspector General Atkinson:

We write to request that you review compliance by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) with policies and procedures governing security clearances and access to secure compartmented information (SCI).  We also request that you review the adequacy of policies and procedures to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented when eligibility to access to classified information is granted despite potential security risks.  We believe that you have the authority and expertise to conduct this review, including in your role as Security Executive Agent under Executive Order 13467.

Public reporting over the last two years has raised serious concerns of alleged irregularities and questionable decisions related to eligibility determinations for EOP personnel access to classified information. These allegations include abuse in granting interim clearances, to include for access to SCI; revoking a former senior intelligence official’s eligibility for access to classified information seemingly for reasons of political retribution; overruling unfavorable adjudications made by career security professionals in some 30 cases; and the President’s decision himself to grant his daughter and son-in-law clearances despite the documented concerns from the White House Counsel and Chief of Staff.

The Administration is undertaking an important transformation of the security clearance system to reflect today’s threats, today’s mobile workforce, and modern technologies.  While we must stay focused on that larger reform effort, we must ensure that today’s system operates with integrity, particularly at the White House.

We look forward to your attention to this matter and request you brief us on the results of your reviews within 60 days.

Sincerely, 

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