Kushner, 100 others, lacking security clearances: Darcy cartoon

February 15, 2018 GMT

Kushner, 100 others, lacking security clearances: Darcy cartoon

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Rob Porter scandal has refocused attention on the security clearance status of Jared Kushner and other White House staffers.

Kushner’s still hasn’t received full security clearance, and NBC is reporting he is among 130 White House staffers who only have interim clearances. Forty-seven of those staffers report directly to President Trump and they include White House counsel Don McGahn, Ivanka Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The White House has long argued that Kushner’s application has taken long to process because of his extensive business interests and holdings. It’s a safe bet that his business interactions with Russians and his involvement in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation have also complicated and prolonged the process.

Former Acting Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, has said that while it’s not common for the vetting process to drag on as long as it has for Kushner, it’s also not unheard of. But what he said is unusual, is for someone with an interim security clearance to be given access to kind of classified information Kushner and Porter have been given access to.

The White House is arguing that there is a security clearance backlog because they are a new administration. That’s only partially to blame. What’s different with the Trump administration, compared to past administrations in their first term, is the number of high-ranking Trump White House officials and advisors who have yet to be cleared for full security clearances and who are operating like they have them.

It’s troubling to find out that 47 top Trump officials still don’t have full security clearance the day after the Directors of the FBI and U.S. Intelligence Agencies testified that we are under a Russian cyber attack, zeroing in on the 2018 elections.

Gowdy opens Porter investigation

The House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, has opened an investigation into the Rob Porter matter that will also look into how security clearance applications are processed.

As part of the investigation, Gowdy sent a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray wanting to know when and who at the White House the FBI notified about Porter.

By Feb. 28, Gowdy wants from the Wray, “The date on which any White House employee was notified of potential derogatory or disqualifying information on Porter from the date of his appointment to February 12, 2018 and which individual was so notified.”

Gowdy also sent a letter to chief of staff John Kelly requesting the date he learned about the accusations about Porter and who informed him.

Gowdy’s letters being sent Wednesday to the White House, Kelly and Wray, could explain why the Huckabee Sanders delayed then suddenly canceled the Wednesday press briefing that Kelly was set to speak at.

The letters from Gowdy opened by pointing out that the Porter timeline Wray testified to, completely contradicted what Kelly and Huckabee Sanders had been telling the press, by a year.

Florida shows clearances aren’t the nation’s most troubling security issue

As important as the White House security clearances are, there is an even more worrisome security deficit -- that is the millions of American students who are not secure from mass shootings and the mass negligence of legislators who enable them.