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The security clearances scandal makes it hard to believe Trump is in the clear

His furtiveness is only heightening the impression that he has something to hide

Is someone in the Deep State finally blowing the whistle on the Trump presidency? Meet Tricia Newbold, the 18-year veteran of the White House Personnel Security Office, who is alleging that Trump’s camarilla received 25 security clearances that should never have been cleared. Blackmail, drug abuse, criminal conduct, financial peculation — you name it and Newbold says it raised nary an eyebrow among the Trump crowd. Instead, national security clearances were handed out like jellybeans to Trump acolytes, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

In the case of ‘Senior White House Official No. 1’, most likely Kushner, Newbold explained to congressional investigators that concerns she highlighted were swept aside like so much useless ballast. She pointed to ‘significant disqualifying factors, including foreign influence, outside activities (“employment outside or business external to what your office at the (Executive Office of the President) entails”), and personal conduct.’ The then-director of personnel security, Carl Kline, was unmoved. He apparently saw his job as currying favor with Trump rather than adhering to the appropriate security standards. According to Newbold, ‘I want it known that this is a systematic, it’s an office issue, and we’re not a political office, but these decisions were being continuously overrode.’ Newbold also says that the White House engaged in retaliation against her.

Already House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings is preparing subpoenas, including one for Kline. The White House, true to form, is seeking to stonewall any investigations and, indeed, noting that Trump himself is the ultimate Decider. True enough. But this episode will undoubtedly raise questions, as they like to say in Washington, about the administration’s fidelity to its own interests when it is supposed to be safeguarding America’s. Trump, after all, campaigned for office in 2016 claiming that Hillary Clinton had ‘endangered’ American national security with her secret server. Now he seems to be going her one better.

This controversy, in its own way, is likely to focus even more attention on the administration’s unwillingness to part with the Mueller report. It’s claiming, on the one hand, that the sanctity of national security means that it cannot divulge what’s actually in the almost 400-page report, while recklessly handing out clearances to Trump’s nearest and dearest, on the other. So the House Judiciary Committee is planning to issue a subpoena on Wednesday to prompt Attorney General William Barr to disgorge the memo whose contents he summarized in a skimpy four-page letter to Congress. Even if viewed only in camera, the unredacted report could serve as a nifty roadmap for congressional Democrats to pursue their own investigations of Trump’s multifarious and, more often than not, larcenous activities. What’s more, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that only 29 percent of American are convinced that the Mueller report exonerated Trump. Trump’s furtiveness is only heightening the impression that he has something to hide. And maybe he does.


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