White House Tightens Security Clearance Procedures After Abuse Allegations


Kelly begins the memo by stating that in the wake of the Porter scandal, "We should - and in the future, must - do better" and acknowledges that problems in the security-clearance process demanded attention. "We should - and in the future, must - do better".

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has ordered changes to the way staff gain access to America's most closely guarded secrets, after a top aide worked for months without full clearance.

The memo also recommends that all Top Secret and SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearances that have been pending since last June be discontinued in a week.

The chief of staff held several "after-action meetings" in the past week.

Kelly also said he has already ended the granting of new interim security clearances, absent any "extraordinary circumstances" with his "explicit approval".

In a memo, Kelly said, "Recent events have exposed some remaining shortcomings", referencing fallout from when two staffers resigned amid allegations they abused their ex-wives.

The watchdog organization is asking Kelly to revoke the clearance until Kushner is fully vetted by national security officials via an extensive background check.

In light of this, Kelly announced the creation of a working group.

Reed Cordish is stepping down from his post as an assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives and will be replaced by Brooke Rollins, a former aide to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The memo continues to say that the background investigations "of potential Commissioned Officers should be flagged for the FBI at the outset" and requires them to be "hand-delivered" to the White House's counsel afterward. The FBI official who delivers the files is then required to "verbally brief" the counsel on information the bureau considered "significantly derogatory".

Have a goal of receiving a briefing about any "significant derogatory information about senior staff" within 48 hours of discovering it.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, but press secretary Sarah Sanders has repeatedly argued that the Trump team has used the same processes as previous administrations. Going forward, I am directing that those who have a need to know the contents of BIs for personnel or national security reasons - to include me or a designee in the Chief of Staff's Office - be memorialized.

Kelly's new plan would set the limit for interim security clearances at 180 days, with an option to extend for another 90 days if background checks do not immediately reveal any troubling information.

"The committee is investigating the policies and processes by which interim security clearances are investigated and adjudicated within the executive branch, and the extent to which any security clearance issued to Porter comported with those policies and processes", Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a letter to Kelly. Similar reviews will occur monthly for long-outstanding adjudications. Porter's ex-wives had leveled the accusations against Porter in interviews with FBI officials in early 2017, and FBI Director Chris Wray said the FBI provided the White House with updates on the investigation in March, July and November before closing the investigation in January.