Top Republican Seeks Answer On White House Security Clearance Process

Charles Grassley, joined by Democrat Richard Blumenthal, press White House

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, wants the White House to explain just exactly what its security clearance procedures are. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley is pressing the White House for answers on the Trump administration’s security clearance policy and who within the West Wing and Capitol Hill is allowed to view sensitive or classified information.

Key questions raised in the letter from the Iowa Republican appear to directly relate to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner. Questions are also posed directly about former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned earlier this month amid allegations of domestic abuse.

Watch: FBI Director Discusses Porter Security Clearance Timeline

Tuesday’s letter from Grassley and Sen. Richard J. Blumenthal, D-Conn., comes after a recent announcement from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that the administration would overhaul its policy on security clearance reviews. The letter also comes after reports that up to 100 individuals may be working in the White House with an interim security clearance.

“Recent reports reveal that officials at the highest levels of government may be operating with only interim security clearances, either because of delays in the clearance-granting process or because information revealed during that process is not acted on in a timely and appropriate fashion,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter addressed to White House Counsel Don McGahn and FBI Director Christoper Wray. “If true, this raises significant concerns that ineligible individuals, who hold positions of public trust, may have access to sensitive or classified information.”

Grassley and Blumenthal requested information on, among other things, the number of individuals in both the White House and Capitol Hill operating on an interim security clearance from fiscal years 2009 to 2018, and the policies governing the ability of those persons to access classified information.

The senators specifically requested information about whether individuals with interim clearances are able to view the President’s Daily Brief, a document compiled by the nation's intelligence services that Kushner is reported to have daily access to despite lacking a full security clearance.

The duo is also seeking additional information about the security review for Porter and when and to who information on the former White House aide might have been provided by the FBI.

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