Mar 5, 2019

White House rejects request for documents on security clearance abuses

Trump and Kushner

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Tuesday rejecting the committee's request for documents on the process for granting security clearances to White House personnel, calling their demands "unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive."

"Although we are prepared to continue negotiations in good faith, the Committee seeks unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation on its part, and then complains that the White House has refused to simply tum over everything the Committee inappropriately seeks. These actions suggest that the Committee is not interested in proper oversight, but rather seeks information that it knows cannot be provided consistent with applicable law. We will not concede the Executive's constitutional prerogatives or allow the Committee to jeopardize the individual privacy rights of current and fo1mer Executive Branch employees."

Why it matters: The House Oversight Committee announced in January that it would investigate the White House and Trump transition team's process of granting security clearances "in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration." Cipollone's letter is likely the first of many confrontations to come, as Democrats intent on probing every corner of Trump's life, business and presidency begin to ramp up their investigations.

  • Cummings said last week that this would be his final voluntary request for the administration before the committee begins to issue subpoenas, per Politico.
  • In a statement responding to Cipollone, Cummings said: "The White House's argument defies the Constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this Committee, and just plain common-sense. The White House security clearance system is broken, and it needs both congressional oversight and legislative reform."
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