House Oversight Committee Votes to Issue Subpoena in Security Clearance Probe

April 2, 2019 by Dan McCue
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks on March 8, 2017, after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday afternoon voted to authorize a subpoena for a former White House official to testify as part of a probe into the Trump administration’s security clearance process.

The committee voted 22-15, on party lines, to approve a resolution authorizing a subpoena for Carl Kline, who was director of the White House Personnel Security Office for the first two years of the Trump administration.

Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has accused the White House of obstructing the panel’s investigation into the security clearances of Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and others.

Tuesday’s vote came after Cummings revealed that Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversaw the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, spoke privately with the committee on March 23 about alleged failures in the current security clearance process.

Newbold claims dozens of people in President Donald Trump’s administration were granted security clearances despite “disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds, including concerns about foreign influence, drug use and criminal conduct.

The allegations were detailed in a letter and memo released by Representative Cummings on Monday. The documents don’t identify the officials on the list but say they include “two current senior White House officials, as well as contractors and individuals” in the Executive Office of the President.

“According to Ms. Newbold, these individuals had a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct,” the memo says.

Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she could not talk about individual security clearances, but claimed that Democrats were “acting in bad faith” because they were asking for confidential information “they know they have absolutely no right to see.”

Later, during a gaggle with reporters in the west wing driveway following her appearance on Fox, Sanders reiterated her stance, asserting Democrats are playing a “dangerous game” asking for information on security clearances because it puts everyone with a clearance at risk.

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