Donald Trump clearly came into office unprepared for the job, and he has surrounded himself with people who are equally unqualified and, perhaps even more dangerously, equally compromised. We know Donald Trump overruled White House security personnel, career national security experts who work in a nonpartisan manner to keep the nation safe, to grant top-secret security clearances to family members Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner; but now we know he went much further to abuse his powers and extend security clearances to more than two dozen people who’d failed to pass the relevant national security requirements.
Veteran White House security adviser turned whistleblower Tricia Newbold is detailing the highly unusual process Donald Trump has used to clear “dozens” of people in his administration. After serving as a White House security adviser for 18 years, through both Republican and Democratic administrations, she’s taking her concerns directly to Congress. From the Washington Post:
“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,” Newbold told the committee, according to a panel document summarizing her allegations.
Newbold says the Trump administration overruled security clearance denials for 25 individuals, “despite concerns about their ties to foreign influence, conflicts of interests, questionable or criminal conduct, financial problems or drug abuse.” That is a stunning lapse in defense of national security. Gross incompetence and dangerous negligence.
In her meeting with members of Congress, Newbold also detailed an unusually high number of temporary clearances that give access to classified information to people who would never actually get a permanent clearance.
When Newbold began raising red flags, she said, she was retaliated against, including a suspension she says was unwarranted. From CNN:
The suspension, Newbold alleges, is a reprisal for a complaint she filed against Kline accusing him of aggressive behavior and discriminating against her as a woman with a rare form of dwarfism. Her allegations include that he placed files she needed to work on out of her reach.
In a statement released by her attorney, Newbold accuses Kline -- who a US official says has since left the White House for the Pentagon -- of "gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, and violations of laws, rules, and regulations" and "reckless security practices."
Nice, huh? Her boss moved files so that she physically could not reach them. Democrats plan to depose her supervisor, Carl Kline.
Newbold also accused Kline of telling her to, in effect, stand down on concerns about another senior White House official, called “Official 2” by the panel. She said one of her colleagues wrote a 14-page summary of why they were planning to deny the application. But when she told Kline of her plan to agree with her colleague on the matter, Kline “instructed Ms. Newbold, ‘do not touch’ the case.”
Kline later approved the security clearance, she said.
Just one more way Democrats are finally holding this administration accountable. They have an absolute duty to investigate such lapses in national security. Stay tuned.