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Tally of White House officials lacking permanent security clearances surpassed 100: Reports

February 22, 2018

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Scores of White House officials appointed by President Trump’s administration lacked permanent security clearances 10 months into his tenure, according to new reports.

At least 100 staffers in the Executive Office of the President operated on interim security clearances as of November 2017, CNN first reported Wednesday, citing information obtained from an unnamed U.S. government official. A subsequent report published by NBC News put the number of White House officials who relied on interim clearances at more than 130.

Senior White House officials who lacked permanent security clearances a year after Mr. Trump’s election included the president’s daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, the reports said.

Others who relied on interim clearances as of November included Dan Scavino, the president’s director of social media; Christopher Liddell, assistant to the president for strategic initiatives; White House counsel Don McGahn; White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah; as well as 10 out of 24 members of the president’s National Security Council, among other senior officials, NBC reported.

It was not immediately clear if those officials have since obtained permanent security clearances, the report said.

Previous reporting revealed last week that about 40 people in the Trump administration, including Mr. Kushner, have been operating on interim security clearances more than a year into the administration.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, obtained a permanent security clearance in January, albeit five months after joining the president’s legal team, NBC reported Wednesday. Another White House official, George Banks, a special assistant to the president for economic policy, resigned Wednesday after being told he wouldn’t quality for a permanent security clearance, according to a Politico report.

The White House has repeatedly declined to comment on officials’ security clearances since the process entered the spotlight last week, amid reports about Rob Porter.

Mr. Porter, Mr. Trump’s former staff secretary, had interim access to top-level documents despite being accused of domestic assault allegations that spurred his resignation last week.

“The national security clearance controversies that have come to the forefront recently are not always easily resolved matters,” said I. Charles “Chuck” McCullough III Esq., a partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC who previously worked as an intelligence community inspector general.

“Security clearance can be a complicated process, especially when someone is accused of misconduct or a crime. Individuals are allowed to prove they have overcome any issues of concern and can still be granted security clearance. While interim security clearances have a purpose and can be routine, they are only temporary pending completion of the full investigative requirements for permanent security clearance,” he said.

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, six Democratic senators wrote to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Wednesday raising concerns about the lack of permanent security clearances across the Trump administration.

“We are deeply concerned that high level officials operating under an interim security clearance, like Jared Kushner, read the President’s daily intelligence briefing,” the senators wrote.

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