- The White House has fired or reassigned several staffers who had pending issues with their security clearances.
- Several top aides, including senior adviser Jared Kushner and former staff secretary Rob Porter, operated with interim top-secret clearance until recently, when Porter was forced to resign amid allegations of domestic abuse.
- Since then, chief of staff John Kelly has restructured the guidelines governing who has access to the nation’s most sensitive intelligence.
- Kushner was one of several aides to lose interim clearance last month.
The White House has fired or reassigned a number of West Wing staffers who had pending problems with their security clearance forms, ABC News reported Wednesday.
Members of President Donald Trump’s administration, particularly senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have long faced questions over their security clearances which granted some staffers access to top-secret classified intelligence.
But the issue attracted renewed scrutiny last month, when it emerged that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter held an interim top-secret security clearance while he was under investigation over domestic abuse allegations.
White House chief of staff John Kelly instituted new guidelines related to security clearances amid the Porter scandal that he said would help close some loopholes.
“In ordinary circumstances, the existing processes we inherited, along with the reforms I have implemented in the past months, have generally worked well,” Kelly said in a memo on February 16. “But recent events have exposed some remaining shortcomings.”
Last month, all White House aides who held interim top-secret clearances were downgraded to “secret,” Politico reported.
And ABC News’ report said the White House is still considering a list of additional aides and staffers with clearance issues who could be dismissed or reassigned in the coming days.
The Washington Post reported that earlier in February that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called the White House to inform White House counsel Don McGahn that “significant information” related to Kushner needed further investigation, thereby delaying the approval of a full, permanent security clearance.
Kushner is one of several Trump associates being scrutinised by the special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.
Kushner’s status as a top adviser to the president and his access to sensitive intelligence raised questions last year when it emerged that he had to amend his security clearance form several times, at one point to add more than 100 names to a list of his foreign contacts, since first applying.