One woman became a hero this week. She blew the whistle on the White House’s total disregard of the vetting process that goes into high-level security clearances. Tricia Newbold risked her job of 18 years as Adjudications Manager in the Personnel Security Office to contact the House Oversight and Reform committee chair Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to testify about the Donald Trump administration risking national security by overturning her denials of 25 people. POTUS was hot.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sander spoke to reporters about the clearance investigation. She called the House Democrats’ probe “dangerous” and “shameful.” In fact, she said it could potentially risk millions of peoples personal data, according to Talking Points Memo (TPM):
‘What the Democrats are doing is playing a very dangerous and a shameful game, frankly. They’re putting the 3 million people that do have a security clearance at risk. If you (pull) one individual, you’re putting all 3 million people’s personal information at risk.’
The Oversight committee has been investigating how top White House officials managed to gain access to secret government information after their attempt to gain security clearances were denied. They included the president’s older daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. In their cases, Trump intervened personally.
Democratic committee staffers wrote a memo summarizing Newbold’s testimony about why the 25 people were denied. CNN reported that it read:
‘According to Ms. Newbold, these individuals had a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.’
One senior Democratic representatives indicated that there were:
‘…fears about foreign influence and potential conflicts-of-interests — warning of the grave implications to national security.’
Sanders told reporters that the White House “cooperated” with the Oversight committee and gave it information regarding how their general clearance process worked. Cummings contradicted her, saying that Trump’s people had blocked all of the committee’s requests.
Trump hand-picked the personnel security director and Newbold’s boss, Carl Kline from another government area. He was there for two years.
Cummings told CNN that this situation was “a million times worse” than Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state for President Barack Obama:
‘Because what you have here are people who literally have the top secrets of the world … and they have not been properly cleared, but even more dangerous than that … the recommendations have gone out to say they shouldn’t have. And so that should alarm each and every American.’
According to Newbold’s attorney Ed Passman, she will not have normal whistleblower protection. The case must go through the Office of Special Counsel adjudication, which is a lengthy process. The staff memo read:
‘I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.’
Kline’s attorney Robert Driscoll wrote to the Oversight committee asking it to delay its subpoena request:
‘With my recent addition as counsel and Mr. Kline’s wish to voluntarily comply, I write to respectfully ask that you please reconsider this course of action.’