Kelly Orders Overhaul to White House Security Clearance After Abuse Claims

18 February, 2018, 06:45 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Jennifer Willoughby Rob Porter's ex-wife poses for a portrat in Alexandria VA on February 7

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.

Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter (left), White House chief of staff John Kelly and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner cross the White House South Lawn in August.

Kelly has been under fire from some in the West Wing for his handling of the Porter case, and Trump confidants say the president has been sounding out his friends on possible replacements. He also ended in September the practice of granting new interim security clearances "absent extraordinary circumstances" and his signoff, and directed a review of pending security clearance applications.

Kelly puts an emphasis in the memo on how it's not the White House's sole responsibility to adapt and move faster to learn about the FBI's conclusions on background investigations, despite Wray's statement. Even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation had information about the abuse claims reported by his former wives, Porter still had access to sensitive materials.

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Kelly added, "We should-and in the future, must-do better". The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted - especially those who work closely with the President or handle sensitive national security information, ' he said.

Cordish, whose family runs the Baltimore-based real-estate firm Cordish Cos., is one of the wealthiest members of the Trump administration, according to White House financial disclosures.

The memo said the FBI and Justice Department had offered increased cooperation and, going forward, all background investigations of top officers "should be flagged for the FBI at the outset and then hand-delivered to the White House Counsel personally upon completion".

Dozens of White House aides have been working under interim clearances for months, according to administration officials, raising questions about the administration's handling of the issue and whether classified information has been jeopardized.

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

The new rules would also discontinue any top secret or higher-level interim clearances for individuals whose background investigations have been pending since June 1, 2017, or before.

Porter to resign. He resisted doing so, even when General Kelly asked him to consider stepping down earlier this month, prompting the Chief of Staff to order him to leave as the situation became a major public-relations problem for the administration. In November, one official said, one of Porter's ex-girlfriends called McGahn to describe allegations of domestic abuse by the aide.

Kelly had been aware of the allegations since a year ago, yet Porter was allowed to remain on staff with interim access to classified material at the highest level while his background check was adjudicated. Facing a credibility crisis of his own, Kelly sought to rewrite his actions, telling staff he had acted more swiftly than widely believed to obtain Porter's resignation.

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In his memo, Kelly noted that others, including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have said the security clearance process "is broken" across the government and needs to be overhauled.

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