Politics Why do so many top White House officials lack full security clearances?

16:21  13 february  2018
16:21  13 february  2018 Source:   CBS News

Dem senators want list of White House officials with interim security clearances

  Dem senators want list of White House officials with interim security clearances Six Democratic senators on Wednesday wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for a full list of White House staffers working without a full security clearance.Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) noted recent reports that indicated dozens of White House officials and appointees have been working in the Trump administration with interim security clearances.The letter asks for a list of those with interim clearances, as well as the status of FBI background investigations into those individuals.

Asked on Thursday why so many White House officials were still operating on interim clearances , White House spokesman Raj Shah said he wasn't able to discuss specifics of the clearance process.

The fact is that a year into the Trump presidency there are approximately 40 political appointees at the White House operating without full security clearance , including most notably the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to a report on CNN.

Neither the White House nor the FBI is taking responsibility in the backlog of more than 700,000 security clearances. One investigator told CBS News that the White House security clearance process "is the peak of what the problem is throughout the government."

On Monday, the White House blamed delays in the security clearance process on the FBI, but in another sign of the strain between the bureau and the White House, the FBI responded in a statement that they just conduct the background check, they don't grant security clearances, reports CBS News' Jeff Pegues. 

Trump aides are asked if they are vulnerable to blackmail

  Trump aides are asked if they are vulnerable to blackmail Some officials seeking security clearances were asked to provide any info that could be a "source of embarrassment, or be used to coerce or blackmail you."In the wake of Wednesday's report by NBC News that more than 130 White House officials lacked full security clearances as of November, the supplemental questions — which are not part of the standard questionnaire filled out by other government officials — shed light on the sort of information that could raise flags in a background investigation.

Asked on Thursday why so many White House officials were still operating on interim clearances , White House spokesman Raj Shah said he wasn't able to discuss specifics of the clearance process.

Asked on Thursday why so many White House officials were still operating on interim clearances , White House spokesman Raj Shah said he wasn't able to discuss specifics of the clearance process.

Nearly 13 months into the Trump administration, more than a dozen top officials are working with an "interim security clearance." Among them the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Rob Porter was on that list until he resigned last week amid allegations of domestic violence."Well to me it suggests a breakdown in the security clearance system," said Chris Swecker, former assistant director of the FBI.  

In this Aug. 4, 2017 file photo, from left, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. © AP Photo/Alex Brandon In this Aug. 4, 2017 file photo, from left, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. He says some officials in the Clinton administration relied on interim clearances, but that it's unusual for so many officials to not have full security clearances at this point. 

At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November

  At least 100 White House officials served with 'interim' security clearances until November Nearly a year into President Donald Trump's administration, senior-level staffers -- including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Rob Porter -- remained on interim clearances even as other senior advisers were granted full security access, according to information obtained by CNN from a US government official. Having interim clearance can hamper a staffer's ability to perform essential functions of the job, a former administration official said. It requires those with full permanent clearances to remain vigilant about what information is shared with those still operating on an interim basis.

Asked on Thursday why so many White House officials were still operating on interim clearances , White House spokesman Raj Shah said he wasn't able to discuss specifics of the clearance process.

Asked on Thursday why so many White House officials were still operating on interim clearances , White House spokesman Raj Shah said he wasn't able to discuss specifics of the clearance process.

"To have someone with an interim security clearance for over a year seems very excessive. It sort of defeats the purpose of having a security clearance process in the first place," Swecker said. Within FBI headquarters there is a special unit called SPIN or Special Inquiries. It handles White House security clearances, which are designed to be expedited in about 45 days. Once the FBI completes its investigation, its findings are handed over to the White House, which has discretion in deciding whether to approve a full security clearance.

"My real question was about how -- how he could be doing this job without a security clearance," said Lisa Brown, a staff secretary in President Obama's White House. "You want to make sure that they aren't working for foreign government, that they are an upright and honest person, that they aren't somehow going to be susceptible to blackmail."

Dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances

  Dozens at White House lack permanent security clearances The departure of an aide accused of domestic violence puts background investigations in the spotlight.People familiar with the security-clearance process said one of those White House officials with an interim approval is Jared Kushner — the president’s son-in-law and one of his most influential advisers.

Top White House Official Under Fire Over Denial of Security Clearance . Why was Ben Rhodes the only applicant out of 187 to be rejected for an interim security clearance ?

Dozens of White House and Trump administration officials reportedly are still operating without full security clearances including President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared

That is why the security clearance process is essential -- especially for the White House. CBS News has been told that the FBI first turned over Rob Porter's background check information to the White House at least eight months before his resignation.

Donald J. Trump wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a curtain: <p> Rob Porter <a href=resigned at White House staff secretary on Wednesday after his two ex-wives went public with allegations that he abused them during their marriages.

The Intercept reported earlier that day that the FBI had spoken with both women about their allegations during background interviews about Porter. Those allegations reportedly contributed to the year-long delay in granting him the security clearance customary for staffers of his rank.

But Porter is far from the only Trump administration official to encounter problems or controversy over his security clearance. Democrats have been pressing the White House to provide details on its security clearance process, and lawmakers repeated that call on Thursday in the wake of Porter's resignation.

It's unclear how many White House staffers have been delayed permanent security clearance due to red flags raised during their FBI background checks, and deputy press secretary Raj Shah declined to answer when a reporter asked him for specific details during Thursday's press briefing.

But there are several top officials whose security clearances have been revoked - or at least heavily questioned by critics and the media.

Here are the figures who have come under fire:

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Rob Porter's not the only one — the Trump White House has been plagued by people not getting security clearances

Photo gallery by Business Insider

Another White House Official Just Resigned Because He Couldn’t Get a Security Clearance .
A senior White House official resigned Wednesday after learning that his past marijuana use would keep him from receiving a security clearance, according to a Politico report.&nbsp;A senior White House official resigned Wednesday after learning that his past marijuana use would keep him from receiving a security clearance, according to a Politico report.

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