House Oversight Committee announces investigation into White House security clearances
The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday announced it was launching a “wide-ranging” probe into the White House’s handling of its security clearance process, kicking off one of the first high-profile investigations into the Trump administration by the new, Democratic-controlled chamber.
In a letter sent by committee chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings requested a range of documents related to the security clearance process, writing that the investigation was in response to “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration, including by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and others.”
According to the letter, sent Wednesday morning, the goals of the investigation “are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in current White House systems and practices.”
The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Cummings’ letter also states that the investigation will look into why the administration “is currently defying federal law by failing to provide to Congress information about its security clearance process required by the SECRET Act.”
According to a statement released along with the letter, the committee is seeking information about a litany of former and current administration officials, including national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the President Jared Kushner, former White House aide Rob Porter and former national security adviser K.T. McFarland.
In addition to those individuals, the committee is asking for information related to then-White House chief of staff John Kelly’s 2018 review of security clearance processes, which according to the statement found that dozens of individuals who began working at the White House in January 2017 with interim security clearances were still doing so well into Trump’s first year in office.
In February 2018, Kelly ordered an overhaul of the security clearance process for current and incoming top administration officials. Kelly’s memo came just over a week after Porter resigned following allegations of domestic abuse against him became public. Porter’s ex-wives had leveled the accusations against Porter in interviews with FBI officials in early 2017, and FBI Director Chris Wray said the FBI provided the White House with updates on the investigation in March, July and November 2017 before closing the investigation in January.