(National Sentinel) No Secret: Supporters of President Donald J. Trump say the process for granting members of his administration security clearances has been politically weaponized and intentionally troublesome for the White House, according to a lawyer battling the bureaucracy.
The Washington Times reports that the problem lies primarily with a small group of federal careerists in the Old Executive Office Building who have turned security reviews into roadblocks designed to ensnare Trump’s team, according to Sean M. Bigley, a federal security clearance attorney who represents a number of senior White House officials who are caught up in the nightmare.
“The security clearance process is being weaponized by anti-Trump bureaucrats who are using it as a tool to not only thwart the president’s agenda but to prevent him from installing appointees who will execute it,” Bigley told the paper.
His recounting of the obstruction and stall tactics lends credence to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s critiques of the security office, the Times noted, while highlighting recent incidents regarding security clearances that have proven embarrassing to the president.
Included in such incidents is the downgrading of a top-secret security clearance for senior White House advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The slow-walking of clearances is occurring throughout the administration, including at the Pentagon. However, the problem is most visible and remarkable at the White House, Bigley told the Times.
The paper noted:
The completed FBI background checks routinely get snagged by the office, also known as EOP Security, that is manned by fewer than a dozen career officials. The office has a reputation for bureaucratic inefficiency stretching back several administrations, but it now has adopted an adversarial stance toward Mr. Trump.
“There really is a hostility and there seems to be almost an institutional arrogance in lack of willingness to engage,” Bigley told the Times.
“I literally cannot get a phone call returned, and I am representing senior people in the administration who are just asking for basic answers as to why EOP Security is still sitting on their background investigation a year after it has been completed,” he continued.
Several White House officials are currently working off of interim security clearances after being with the administration for more than a year.
Security clearances at the highest levels typically only take about six months.
Kelly has issued new instructions regarding security clearances, which are typically delivered to the EOP Security office by the FBI.
The chief of staff has ordered the bureau to bypass the EOP office and bring background investigation files directly to the White House.
“The FBI official who delivers these files should verbally brief the White House Counsel on any information in those files they deem to be significantly derogatory. The White House Counsel will then deliver the [background investigation] to the Personnel Security Office for adjudication,” Kelly wrote in the Feb. 16 memo.
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