April 1 (UPI) -- More than two dozen people applying for security clearance to work at the White House were denied -- but overruled by the White House, the chairman of a congressional committee said Monday.
House oversight committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a letter whistle-blower Tricia Newbold, the adjudications manager of the Personnel Security Office, said the White House overturned 25 denied applications. In her position, Newbold handles security clearance determinations for senior White House staff members. The letter was sent to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
Cummings said she was interviewed by the committee and told lawmakers she and other office officials adjudicated the denials of dozens of applications that were later overturned. 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' four-page letter also says Newbold told the panel "she has been targeted for retaliation" after declining to grant the security clearances of certain applicants. Newbold agreed to identify herself publicly because "she strongly believes that Congress must intervene immediately to safeguard our national security," the letter adds. She called her actions "my last hope to really bring integrity back into our office."
Newbold sought official whistle-blower protection weeks ago after she first expressed concern in the matter. She said she expressed concern about clearing at least 30 people in President Donald Trump's administration, including senior adviser Jared Kushner. She filed her complaint less than two weeks after she was suspended without pay for challenging Carl Kline, her supervisor. Kline later left the White House and is now employed by the Defense Department.
Kushner had his interim security clearance removed in 2017, and restored in May 2018.
Cummings is expected to hold a vote for Tuesday authorizing a subpoena for information about the security clearances -- a move similar to what the House judiciary committee will do Wednesday to receive a full copy of the Russia reportfrom special counsel Robert Mueller. The subpoena would have Newbold testify about the security clearances she was involved with.
The committee began investigating in January how White House workers obtain security clearances. Cummings wrote then the White House appeared "to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information." Cummings requested in a March 1 letter the White House turn over documentation on its security clearance process.