Congress

Oversight Chairman Cummings wants more info on Kushner security clearance

Letter was prompted by a Thursday report in The New York Times

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., arrives to conduct the hearing featuring Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, in the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maryland’s Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, sent a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on Friday accusing the administration of purposefully delaying the committee’s investigation into executive security clearances.

“The White House has stalled, equivocated, and failed to produce a single document or witness to the committee,” Cummings said.

The letter was prompted by a Thursday New York Times report alleging that President Donald Trump lied to the paper in a January interview about his involvement in granting a security clearance to his son-in-law and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner.

“President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer,” the Times reported.

According to the newspaper, John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff at the time, and Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, both wrote internal memos over their concerns about Kushner receiving the security clearance.

Cummings wants to know why Trump overruled his advisers on the security clearance as well as what information officials obtained regarding Kushner that led to them initially denying him access to sensitive information.

The Oversight chairman also wants to know why Kelly and McGahn felt compelled to pen memos, and why the counsel’s office is continuing to withhold documents and witness accounts from the committee.

Cummings’ letter is the third, and final, message in an exchange between the Oversight Committee and Cipollone concerning breaches of national security in the White House. Cipollone was asked to respond to the letter by March 4.

New York Democrat Adriano Espaillat introduced a bill in the House on Friday in a response to the Times story that amends the so-called Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. It would require congressional notification when individuals, who are not recommended by officials, are granted White House security clearance.

Espaillat’s legislation is called the ‘Judgment And Responsibility in Executing Determinations for Security Clearance Act,’ or the ‘JARED Security Clearance Act of 2019.’ 

Also watch: Cohen vs. the GOP — the many defenses for Trump

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