White House Fails to Comply with Federal Law Requiring Report on Security Clearance Procedures

Sep 20, 2018
Press Release
All Oversight Committee Democrats Ask Chairman Gowdy for Subpoena

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 20, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led all 18 Democratic Committee Members in sending a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting a subpoena after the Trump Administration failed to comply with a federal law passed by Congress and signed by President Trump to submit a report to Congress about procedures for adjudicating security clearances for White House staff.

In light of numerous reports of irregularities with security clearances at the White House, Congress passed H.R. 3210, the SECRET Act, which included an amendment offered by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi requiring a report to Congress detailing the process being used for adjudicating security clearances for White House personnel.  The report was due on August 20, 2018, but the White House missed this deadline and failed to submit its report.  The White House has also refused to produce documents in response to numerous requests from Congress relating to its security clearances processes.

“The White House is now escalating its obstruction by failing to comply with a law duly enacted by both houses of Congress and signed by President Trump himself,” the Members wrote.  “This law required the White House to submit a report to Congress by August on its procedures for adjudicating security clearances, but the White House has failed to submit this report and has been unable to explain why.”

Gowdy has stated previously that the issue of security clearances is squarely within the Oversight Committee’s jurisdiction, but he has declined to join Democratic requests for documents or issue any subpoenas for them.

“The failure of the White House to submit this report to Congress in compliance with the law is particularly troubling in light of significant failings and dysfunctions in its security clearance adjudication system,” the Members wrote.

Their letter cited multiple examples:

  • The President allowed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to retain his security clearance for weeks even after the Justice Department informed the White House that he lied about his secret communications with the Russians.
  • The President allowed Staff Secretary Robert Porter to maintain his security clearance even after the FBI submitted five separate derogatory reports to the White House about his background investigation.
  • The President revoked the security clearance of former Central Intelligence Director John Brennan for political reasons, stating that he viewed him “as among those he held responsible for the investigation, which also is looking into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.”
  • The President granted current National Security Advisor John Bolton access to the nation’s most carefully guarded secrets despite the fact that he worked directly with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by criminal prosecutors with spying against the United States.

“We have repeatedly asked you to put the full force of our Committee behind a fact-based investigation of the White House security clearance process, but you have repeatedly refused to do so, even when the White House defied your own requests for documents,” the Members wrote to Gowdy.  “Now, the White House is amplifying its defiance by disregarding a law duly enacted by Congress as a whole and signed by President Trump himself.”

They concluded:  “We believe it is time for our Committee to do its job and issue a subpoena to compel the White House to produce the information we need to fulfill our oversight responsibilities—both to ensure that the security clearance process is not being abused for political purposes and to ensure that our nation’s secrets are adequately being protected.”

Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress