Background Check Director Flags Concerns with Reports of Steve Bannon’s Inflammatory Statements

Feb 2, 2017
Press Release

Background Check Director Flags Concerns with Reports of Steve Bannon’s Inflammatory Statements


Anti-U.S. Claims Must Be Investigated As Part of Security Clearance Process


Washington, D.C. (Feb. 2, 2017)—Today, the Director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, Charles Phalen, Jr., testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the process used to investigate applicants for security clearances and was asked about highly inflammatory statements reportedly made last year by Steve Bannon, including that he is a “Leninist,” that his “goal” is to “destroy the state,” and that “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

In response to questions from Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings, Director Phalen agreed that calling oneself a Leninist would cause concerns during the background check process for a security clearance:  “It would, and the investigator should pursue that avenue of discussion with the subject as to what that means.”

In response to a specific question about someone whose goal was “to destroy the state,” Director Phalen responded:   “That would elicit a very strong line of questioning with that individual and with others to determine what he means by that so that we can give a full picture to the adjudicator.”

When asked what would happen if Bannon denied making these statements, Director Phalen responded that background check investigators would “determine what the truth is.”

Ranking Member Cummings concluded:  “Mr. Chairman, this is a very serious problem.  The President has picked Mr. Bannon to be his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor.  Not only that, the President just reorganized the National Security Council and gave Mr. Bannon a permanent seat at the table, while removing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director for National Intelligence.”

Click here to watch the full video. 

115th Congress