During the presidential campaign, and repeated as a deflection from Trump corruption ever since, Republicans argued that Hillary Clinton wasn’t fit to be president because she potentially exposed classified information on her email server. This week, the what-about-her-emails crowd has more complaints about the Obama portraits than the lackadaisical attitude Donald Trump has toward classified information.
We knew for a while that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and unqualified to do any job in the White House, has yet to be cleared for a security clearance. What was revealed from the Rob Porter scandal, other than Trump and John Kelly don’t take domestic violence seriously, is that there are many people working in the White House without a “permanent” security clearance.
First, there isn’t an actual permanent clearance. Every individual is subject to continuous evaluation and some clearances expire depending on the level. The FBI conducts the background checks. For secret and top-secret clearances, the White House has its own Office of Security that makes the decision on who gets clearance. For access to what is called Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI), which is the highest level of classified information, that is done by one or more of the intelligence agencies, and usually, it’s the CIA with the White House. The White House Office of Security is run by career staff and not by political appointees. Jared has access to the highest level of classified info.
Sometimes, a clearance isn’t given because the FBI is having trouble finding information, and they believe there are holes, or they’re finding a lot of sketchy and questionable stuff, like wife-beating or in Jared’s case, lying on his forms.
How does a White House staffer keep his job with access to classified information without a clean report from the FBI? The Office of Security may grant temporary clearance, as they’re probably doing in the over 40 cases in the White House right now, or the president can use his Constitutional authority to order them to grant clearance (and we don’t know if that’s happened), or the White House may just ignore it altogether. That’s what’s happening in this case, and after it’s exposed, they lie and blame the FBI.
Tuesday, FBI director Christopher Wray told Congress that the FBI completed Rob Porter’s background investigation last July and closed it in January. As we know, Porter continued to work in the White House. Sarah Huckabee Sanders had claimed that they first learned of the accusations against Porter last week and that White House Counsel Don McGahn and Chief of Staff John Kelly were not informed previously. She also said that “the White House had not received any specific papers regarding the completion of that background check” by the time of Porter’s resignation. She said the White House Security Office felt the FBI’s report required more field investigation, though the FBI had closed its background check on Porter. Sanders was caught lying. I’m not sure she’s aware of that yet.
Trump promised us he’d hire the best people. He hasn’t even hired a Spokesgoon smart enough to know that you don’t lie about the FBI the day the FBI Director is testifying in front of Congress.
Trump also defended Porter and said he, and every man accused of beating a woman, deserves “due process.” I think a year-long background investigation by the FBI, who then reports that the guy is a wife beater, can be considered due process.
Trump campaigned arguing that we couldn’t trust our nation’s secrets with Hillary Clinton. After he won the election, the Obama administration was concerned about how much to tell Trump and his transition team because our intelligence sources knew there were Russian moles in the Trump campaign.
Obama warned Trump not to hire Michael Flynn. Trump hired Michael Flynn. Obama’s National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, had to find a way to work around providing information to her successor while knowing he was corrupted by the Russians.
After he became president, Trump invited the Russian ambassador, foreign minister, and their camera team into the Oval Office because Putin told him to. During that visit, Trump revealed classified information to them that was provided by an ally.
Then, Trump released the Nunes FISA memo over the objections of the Justice Department and the FBI.
Finally, Trump has unverified people working with classified information in the White House. Some of these people are susceptible to blackmail.
Congress needs a hearing to find out why so many people are working in the White House without clearances, who they are, and what level of classified information they have been granted access to. The Bush and Obama administrations didn’t suffer from these scandals, but then again, they didn’t staff their administrations with a bunch of wife-beaters and loan sharks.
The problem starts at the top. Donald Trump doesn’t hire the best people. In fact, he hires the worst people. The fact is we elected a guy who couldn’t pass the FBI background check.
The real problem is we elected the worst person.
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