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Whistleblower: Trump Officials Overruled 25 Security Clearance Denials

Posted at 11:28 AM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 11:28:14-04

WASHINGTON (NBC News) — The Trump administration overruled 25 security clearance denials issued by career government employees, a White House whistleblower told Congress.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said in a letter released Monday that the whistleblower, Tricia Newbold — a security specialist in the White House — told members of his committee in an interview that that the Trump administration’s decisions to overturn clearance denials issued by her office could jeopardize national security and that coming forward marked her “last hope” to “bring the integrity back into” her office.

“She has informed the Committee that during the Trump Administration, she and other career officials adjudicated denials of dozens of applications for security clearances that were later overturned,” Cummings wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

“As a result, she warned that security clearance applications for White House officials ‘were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security,'” Cummings wrote. “She also reported to the Committee that she has been targeted for retaliation after declining to grant security clearances based on longstanding national security protocols.”

Cummings revealed in the letter that Democratic members of his committee had conducted a “detailed, on-the-record interview” with Newbold, who works as the Adjudications Manager in the Personnel Security Office, a position that allows her to handle security clearance determinations for senior officials in the White House.

Newbold came forward and “agreed to identify herself publicly at this time because she strongly believes that Congress must intervene immediately to safeguard our national security,” Cummings wrote. “She implored the Committee to act now, warning that ‘this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office,'” he wrote.

Cummings’ committee, citing the White House’s lack of cooperation with their investigation into the security clearance process, said it plans to subpoena Carl Kline, who was Newbold’s supervisor when he worked as the Personnel Security Director at the White House during the first two years of the Trump Administration. Kline is now at the Department of Defense.

NBC News, citing sources familiar with the matter, previously reported in February that Newbold was seeking official whistleblower protection from the federal government after raising concerns about “unwarranted security clearances” for Trump administration officials, including Jared Kushner.

Kushner’s was one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top-secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavorable information, two sources told NBC News at the time.

Newbold filed her whistleblower complaint less than two weeks after she was suspended without pay for defying her supervisor, Kline.

The complaint, which was obtained by NBC News, alleges Newbold raised concerns with Kline about a security clearance for an individual as early as July 2017. The complaint does not identify the person, but sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that it was Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser.