Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Donald Beyer (D-Va.) have written a letter calling on acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance in light of reports that a personnel director overrode recommendations that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law not be granted top-secret clearance.
Kushner’s clearance was denied by two unnamed career White House security experts because of FBI concerns about foreign influence, NBC reported last week. But they were overruled by Carl Kline when he was installed as the director of the personnel security office of the president, according to the news network. Kushner, a senior White House adviser, was finally granted permanent security clearance in May 2018.
Kline overrode recommendations against security clearances for 30 people in the White House, an unprecedented number of reversals, NBC reported.
Trump told The New York Times in an interview published Thursday that he did not play a role in arranging top-secret clearance for Kushner.
Lieu and Beyer wrote to Mulvaney: “We have held serious concerns about the implications of granting Jared Kushner a security clearance … given [his] track record of ‘omitting’ meetings, relationships and business interests that tie him to foreign officials.” The NBC report on Kushner — and the others whose clearances were approved despite objections — is particularly troubling because the White House has provided no information about the concerns and why these people have continued access to sensitive information, the congressmen wrote.
NBC reported Thursday that a White House security analyst described by her attorney as a “whistleblower” has been suspended for two weeks from her job without pay — just days after the network’s report on Kushner appeared.
The action against Tricia Newbold, who works for Kline, was imposed for failure to supervise, failure to follow instructions and defiance, according to a document obtained by NBC News. The suspension was initially recommended Dec. 3. Newbold has had “no prior formal disciplinary action” in her 18 years on the job, stated the suspension decision, according to NBC.
Newbold’s attorney Ed Passman called the suspension “clearly reprisal for her whistleblowing.” NBC has not identified her as one of the sources for its story on Kushner’s clearance.
Newbold, who suffers from a form of dwarfism, filed a discrimination complaint against Kline three months ago, but the supervisor who filed the suspension said it was not linked to the penalty.
Several of the security clearances approved by Kline are being investigated by the House Oversight Committee.
House officials have accused the Trump administration of causing “grave breaches of national security” by disregarding security protocols, according to a statement last week by committee chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
“The system is supposed to be a nonpartisan determination of an individual’s fitness to hold a clearance, not an ad hoc approach that overrules career experts to give the President’s family members access to our nation’s most sensitive secrets,” said the statement.