(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) filed the White House Security Clearance Accountability Act to address threats posed by President Donald Trump’s troubling order to approve multiple family members for top-level security clearance, against the recommendations of career experts in the intelligence field, as well as the White House Counsel and Chief of Staff.
The New York Times reported that President Trump ordered his son-in-law Jared Kushner to be granted a top-secret security clearance over the objections of official intelligence experts, despite earlier White House denials. And CNN reported that President Trump pressured his senior staff to grant a security clearance to his daughter Ivanka Trump.
The White House Security Clearance Accountability Act would deny security clearances to any White House employee who is under investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government, who fails to disclose contacts with foreign nationals on their security clearance questionnaire, or who was granted a security clearance against the advice of White House staff. It would also prevent the issuance or renewal of security clearances under such circumstances. Finally, it would require the Government Accountability Office—Congress’ independent, non-partisan watchdog—to submit a report to Congress detailing any instance since January 20, 2017 in which a White House official received a security clearance against the recommendation of career security staff.
“Nepotism should never override national security,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The President continues to jeopardize our national security in service of his own personal interests. Congress must now act to create explicit laws ensuring the personal interests of a President do not overrule our most basic national security protocols. That is why I am introducing the White House Security Clearance Accountability Act.”
The 2019 GAO High Risk List identified the government-wide personnel security clearance process as a new area of high risk. And while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last week, Michael Cohen told the Committee that it was possible that the Trump family was conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the 2016 election, due to their involvement in the Russian Trump tower deal. The White House Security Clearance Accountability Act is a necessary and urgent step to address this critical national issue.