White House whistleblower says senior Trump officials overturned 25 security clearance denials

Some of the reasons security clearance applications were denied include 'foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct'

Sarah Harvard
New York
Monday 01 April 2019 11:51 BST
Picture: (Getty Images)

A whistle-blower told a House committee in a private interview last month that senior Trump administration officials granted security clearances for nearly two dozen individuals whose applications were denied by the White House's Personnel Security Office.

Tricia Newbold, the whistle-blower, and a manager in the Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that 25 individuals, including two current senior White House officials, and contractors and employees working for Donald Trump, were granted security clearances questionably.

Ms Newbold told the committee that some of the reasons security clearance applications were denied include “foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.” the memo said.

She said that more senior officials overturned the denied clearance applications despite protocols designed to mitigate security risks.

The revelation came from a memo released by the House Committee's Democratic staff on Monday.

The memo did not identify the 25 individuals Ms Newbold revealed to have been granted security clearance despite being denied.

The revelation comes over a month after the New York Times reported that Mr Trump ordered then-chief-of-staff John Kelly to grant Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, security clearance last year.

Ms Newbold, whose 18-year career in the White House spans across both Democratic and Republican administrations, said she decided to speak up after her attempts to raise the issue with her superiors went nowhere.

“I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office,” Ms Newbold, according to a summary of her interview with the House committee’s staff on March 23.

Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the the Oversight Committee, said he plans on issuing a subpoena for Carl Kline. Mr Kline recently worked as the head of the personnel security division, and as Ms Newbold's manager.

Mr Cummings also identified five other senior White House officials he plans to receive testimonies from and requested summaries of the security clearance adjudication process.

The Maryland Democrat is also requesting related documents for nine current and former Trump officials including Mr Kushner, first daughter Ivanka Trump, and national security adviser John Bolton.

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In her interview with the committee, Ms Newbold described two instances when White House officials who were denied security clearance by her or or her colleagues that were later overturned.

In one example, a senior White House official was denied clearance after a background found concerns with potential foreign influence detailing “employment outside or businesses external to what your position at the EOP entails,” and also the official's personal misconduct.

Mr Kline reversed the decision, citing that “the activities occurred prior to Federal service” without addressing the issues raised by Ms. Newbold and another colleague.

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