WH’s se­cu­rity process ‘bro­ken’

FBI, ad­min­is­tra­tion at odds again

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By KIM­BERLY ATKINS — kim­berly.atkins@boston­her­ald.com

WASH­ING­TON — The na­tion’s top in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials and na­tional se­cu­rity ex­perts warned yes­ter­day that the White House se­cu­rity clear­ance process — which al­lowed a for­mer aide ac­cused of do­mes­tic as­sault to han­dle clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion — is “bro­ken” and poses a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

“The process is bro­ken,” Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Dan Coats told law­mak­ers at a Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee hear­ing yes­ter­day. “It needs to be re­formed.”

The warn­ings came as FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray tes­ti­fied un­der oath that the White House was given a se­cu­rity as­sess­ment of for­mer White House aide Rob Porter nearly a year ago, and again in July and Novem­ber — con­tra­dict­ing claims by White House of­fi­cials that they were un­aware of abuse al­le­ga­tions by Porter’s ex-wives un­til last week.

Coats went on to say that in the case of White House of­fi­cials with in­terim clear­ance — a cat­e­gory that re­port­edly in­cludes dozens of White House staffers in­clud­ing se­nior aides and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kush­ner — “ac­cess has to be lim­ited in terms of the kind of in­for­ma­tion they can be in a po­si­tion to re­ceive or not re­ceive.”

“The specter of Jared Kush­ner hangs over ev­ery­thing,” said na­tional se­cu­rity at­tor­ney Bradley P. Moss. He noted the dif­fi­culty in forc­ing those with­out full se­cu­rity clear­ance to ei­ther clear up their is­sues or leave the White House “as long as Kush­ner has an un­prece­dented level of ac­cess to clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion like the daily in­tel­li­gence brief­ing.”

Wray said the FBI sub­mit­ted “a par­tial re­port” on Porter in March, and then sent “a com­plete back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion in late July” — a time­line that con­tra­dicts White House state­ments that law en­force­ment agen­cies had not com­pleted their re­view of Porter at the time of his res­ig­na­tion last week.

“We re­ceived a re­quest for fol­low-up in­quiry, and we did the fol­low up and pro­vided that in­for­ma­tion in Novem­ber, then we ad­min­is­tra­tively closed the file in Jan­uary,” Wray said, “Then ear­lier this month we re­ceived some ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and we passed that on as well.”

Yes­ter­day White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders at­trib­uted the de­lay in fi­nal­iza­tion of Porter’s clear­ance to an in­ter­nal White House re­view that was on­go­ing. On Mon­day, she had stated that White House of­fi­cials did not con­trol the clear­ance process, and added that they were wait­ing for an on­go­ing ex­ter­nal law en­force­ment agency re­view — an ex­pla­na­tion that Wray’s state­ment con­tra­dicts.

“The White House Per­son­nel Se­cu­rity Of­fice, staffed by ca­reer of­fi­cials … had not made the rec­om­men­da­tion for ad­ju­di­ca­tion to the White House be­cause the process was still on­go­ing when Porter re­signed,” San­ders told re­porters yes­ter­day.

San­ders said that af­ter the July FBI re­port, the White House “re­quired sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tory field work be­fore per­sonal se­cu­rity of­fice could be­gin the eval­u­ate the in­for­ma­tion for ad­ju­di­ca­tion.”

She did not ad­dress Wray’s state­ment that the FBI pro­vided that in­for­ma­tion in Novem­ber.



IS­SUES OF CLEAR­ANCE: FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray, top right, warned the White House se­cu­rity clear­ance process is ‘bro­ken’ af­ter Rob Porter was given an in­terim clear­ance. Pres­i­dent Trump’s se­nior ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, right, was also granted in­terim clear­ance.


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