Inspector general denies Dems’ request to review White House security clearances
WASHINGTON — The inspector general for the US intelligence community has denied a request from Senate Democrats to review the policies and procedures surrounding security clearances at the White House.
The request came after questions about how some White House officials, including the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, obtained security clearances.
In the letter obtained by CNN, intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson wrote that President Donald Trump would have to request a review of the White House’s security clearance procedures in order for the inspector general or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to conduct one.
“As a legal matter, the ICIG also lacks authority to unilaterally review compliance by the (Executive Office of the President) with policies and procedures governing security clearances,” wrote Atkinson.
In response, the Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Trump urging him to direct a review of the White House’s security clearances — and argued Congress should take a larger role is the executive branch will not do so.
“We believe a new review is necessary to address the allegations that have been raised and, if necessary, implement corrective action,” wrote the Democratic senators. “Without such a review, it will be incumbent upon Congress to take a more direct role in overseeing and legislating on (Executive Office of the President) security clearances to protect national security.”
The letter was sent by Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Dianne Feinstein of California, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrats on the Intelligence, Judiciary, Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, respectively.
In a separate letter, the general counsel for the US intelligence community wrote that the last time the intelligence community undertook a similar review of White House security clearance procedures in 2015, it had been requested by the White House.
The request from the Senate Democrats is unlikely to find a receptive audience in the Trump administration, as Trump has resisted requests from House Democrats for information in their investigation the White House security clearance process.
The House Oversight Committee has been investigating how Kushner and Ivanka Trump obtained their security clearances. In February, The New York Times reported that Trump directed his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant Kushner a security clearance, and CNN reported that Trump pressured his staff to approve Ivanka Trump’s clearance.
In April, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said his committee was told that senior officials overruled concerns raised about 25 individuals whose security clearances were initially denied.