Blumenthal Dubious of White House Interim Security Clearance Trend

Between 30 and 40 White House staffers have not been issued full security clearance

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 13, 2018 at 10:25am

Democratic lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned — and frustrated — over the White House’s position on matters of security confidentiality.

Last week, President Donald Trump withheld the release of a Democratic House Intelligence Committee memo rebutting one from the Republican side, citing the need for heavy redaction to protect national security interests.

Yet, some lawmakers are arguing, between 30 and 40 people on the president’s own staff — including his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner — are operating on interim security clearances because they have not yet cleared an FBI background check.

“This White House has been contemptible about security,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“I’m going to be calling later today for the 30 to 40 names of the interim security clearances,” he said, “because I believe they are a threat to national security. They owe us those names.”

Blumenthal along with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii wrote a letter to the inspector general last week, asking him to launch an investigation into the White House security clearance process.

“In past months there [have] been extensive public disclosures of errors and omissions in the disclosures submitted by senior administration officials who received security clearances,” the Democratic cadre wrote, citing Kushner and disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Kushner has met with high-level Chinese government officials despite extensive business interests that lean on Chinese investment.

Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

“We are concerned over the apparent low and inconsistent threshold the Trump White House uses for obtaining an interim security clearance,” the Democratic senators wrote.

The White House’s official stance is that the glut of employees on interim clearances is due to a backlog in the FBI background check system.

Since many of the Trump administration’s senior staffers have deep backgrounds in private enterprise and finance with links to foreign nationals and governments, the vetting process for their applications could be taking longer, attorney Mark Zaid told CNN.