Cummings Seeks Subpoena After White House Refuses to Produce Security Clearance Docs

Mar 9, 2018
Press Release

Cummings Seeks Subpoena After White House

Refuses to Produce Security Clearance Docs


Washington, D.C. (Mar. 9, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy seeking a subpoena for documents the White House is withholding relating to security clearances.

“Last night, we received a completely inadequate response from the White House regarding our Committee’s request for information about security clearances,” Cummings wrote.  “There is an obvious pattern here.  Unfortunately, by repeatedly backing down, the Committee has now enabled and emboldened the White House to openly defy congressional oversight.  In my opinion, the Trump White House—more than any other in recent memory—needs more congressional oversight, not less.  The response last night from the White House is an affront to our responsibilities under the Constitution, and it degrades the integrity of our Committee.”

For more than a year, Cummings has warned about the grave problems with the White House’s deficient security clearance process, as well as specific officials who have been granted access to our nation’s most closely guarded secrets despite highly derogatory information being reported to the White House about these officials.

On February 14, 2018, Gowdy announced the Oversight Committee’s investigation of the White House’s interim security clearance process on CNN:

“I would want to know from Don McGahn and General Kelly and anyone else:  What did you know, from whom did you hear it, to what extent did you hear it and then what actions, if any, did you take?  The chronology is not favorable from the White House.  When you have the head of the FBI saying we told you three times in 2017 and once more in 2018 for good measure then I think the really fair questions are:  what were you told, by whom were you told it, did you have some reason to question what the bureau told you, and if none of that is true, why did you keep him on.  So Don’s one person to ask, General Kelly is one person to ask, there may be others at the White House, but those are the questions going through my mind.”

Last month, Gowdy finally sent three letters seeking documents and information, with due dates for February 28.

  • On February 14, he sent a letter to the White House and a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeking information about former Staff Secretary Robert Porter. 
  • On February 15, he sent a broader request to the White House seeking information about the extent to which White House officials have been working for extended periods with only interim security clearances. 

Last night, the White House responded with a five-paragraph letter that provides none of the information the Committee requested.  The sole exception is an attachment—a memo from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that the Washington Post placed online nearly three weeks ago.

“This is the third time the Committee has sought information from the White House under your tenure as Chairman, and it is the third time the White House has defied the Committee’s requests.  The question is whether this will be the third time the Committee fails to take any action in response,” Cummings wrote.  “It is now clear that the White House will not respond to this Committee unless it is compelled to do so.  For these reasons, I ask that you issue a subpoena to obtain the documents requested on February 14 and 15.”

Click here to read today’s  letter to Chairman Gowdy.

Click here to read the response from the White House.

115th Congress