Whistleblower Warbles Pretty Tune On *25* Shady Security Clearances
In today's episode of ELECTIONS FUCKING MATTER, Congressional Badass Elijah Cummings is ready to kick the investigation of White House security clearance shenanigans into high gear. Remember Carl Kline, the guy who overruled career staff to give clearances to Jared and Ivanka Kushner Trump, then allegedly retaliated against his employee Tricia Newbold, who has a rare form of dwarfism, by repeatedly rearranging the office to put files literally over her head?
Well, guess who's getting a brand, new subpoena today! Really, we can't think of a more deserving candidate to be hauled before Congress to explain himself on national television. Because Ms. Newbold spent all day Saturday with the Oversight Committee telling them about the 25 times the security evaluators wrote NFW on a clearance application, only to have Kline come behind them and give the applicant a clean bill of health. She told the Oversight Committee:
[I]f we have five disqualifiers listed, it is his responsibility and even my responsibility, as the second level reviewer, if I'm going to overturn my staff, to mitigate all five of them and to properly highlight those, so if the case does make it anywhere else, they're able to see written out in front of them the thought process and the work that went into the adjudicative recommendation.
Indeed, the president can override the security adjudication. But the adjudicators can't just ignore "serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct" on their own -- no, not even if they just want to make Donald Trump really, really happy by saving him the trouble of having to mute the television for five minutes to scribble, "Merry Christmas, Jared. Enjoy the classified intel. Love, Poppy."
Newbold described several specific instances of clearance fuckery, including Senior White House Official 1 -- call him, say, "Kared Jushner" -- who "revealed significant disqualifying factors, including foreign influence, outside activities ('employment outside or businesses external to what your position at the EOP entails'), and personal conduct." Kline gave Jushner a thumbs up anyway, since "the activities occurred prior to Federal service." (Seriously!) And when Jushner applied for a higher level of clearance -- call it "Secured Compartmental Information" -- the second reviewing agency -- call it "the CIA" -- called up Newbold to ask WHO THE HELL gave Jushner the lower level clearance in the first place.
Then there was Senior White House Official 2. Call her, say, "Princess Nepotism." On the same day that "Jushner's" security clearance got jammed through, Newbold told Kline that she was going to turn down the Princess as well.
After learning this information, however, Mr. Kline instructed Ms. Newbold, "do not touch" the case. Soon thereafter, Mr. Kline adjudicated Senior White House Official 2 favorably for a security clearance, according to Ms. Newbold.
Finally, Newbold had recommended denying a clearance to Senior White House Official 3, for "a high-profile official at the National Security Council," Kline asked her to change her adjudication, which she refused. (We're guessing this one is Flynn lackey Robin Townley, who was nixed for a spot on the NSC in February 2017.)
Ms. Newbold also stated that she had concerns that Mr. Kline had been having calls "on a daily basis" with Senior White House Official 3 prior to this determination. Ms. Newbold stated: "I let him know early on that I had concerns with him having those conversations and it could potentially lead him to being biased toward the adjudication."
Totally normal for the evaluator to be kibbitzing on the regular with the subject of a clearance examination! This is all fine, at least according to Jim Jordan, who referred to the Oversight inquiry as "an excuse to go fishing through the personal files of dedicated public servants." Which is fucking rich coming from the guy who forced Rod Rosenstein to disclose classified FISA warrants.
We assume Jordan is similarly cool with Kline suspending Newbold for two weeks without pay because she "failed to follow a new policy created by Mr. Kline in November 2018 to scan documents in separate .pdf files instead of a single .pdf file when sending them to other agencies." And also, "defiance of authority," which is code for refusing to falsify clearance recommendations and forcing her boss to get his hands dirty, allegedly.
But Elijah Cummings is very not cool with this nonsense, and he has had it up to HERE with current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's refusal to disclose requested documents or make staff available for interviews. Cipollone's insistence that oversight of the clearance prospect is outside the purview of the Oversight Committee is similarly ballsy, as Cummings has already pointed out.
So the congressman is about to break his subpoena pen off in the ass of Covington Catholic's most famous alumnus. His April 1 letter to Cipollone -- exhibit A when this inevitably winds up in before a judge -- reminds the White House Counsel:
In response, the White House has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single requested witness. Instead, you claim to have "accommodated" the Committee's interests by providing a 90-minute briefing on general policy matters and an in camera review of a handful of guidance documents. You have refused to provide any information about the specific individuals the Committee is investigating, the specific instances of abuse, wrongdoing, or mistakes we have identified, or the problematic practices of the White House Security Office over the past two years.
The Committee has given the White House every possible opportunity to cooperate with this investigation, but you have declined. Your actions are now preventing the Committee from obtaining the information it needs to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities.
So today, the subpoenas start dropping. And Mr. Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, can come on down to Congress and assert executive privilege if he likes. No doubt he'll make a sympathetic witness. Judges looooove political appointees who retaliate against career employees for ... screwing up a .pdf attachment. And rearranging the office to make files inaccessible to Tricia Newbold is pretty fucking ghoulish.
LOTSA LUCK, CARL.
Follow your FDF on Twitter!
Please click here to fund your Wonkette, who probably couldn't pass the security clearance process either!
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.