I covered this previously, The Trump crime family is a national security risk to the U.S., but since then there have been new developments.
Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of jeopardizing national security by using a private email server while Secretary of State (The FBI expressly said that there is no proof that any attempted hack on Hillary Clinton’s personal email account was successful), for which he still leads his campaign rallies to this day with chants of “Lock her up!”
He should now be calling on his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka to be “locked up” for the same offense. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Use Private Accounts for Official Business, Their Lawyer Says:
The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information … that he said showed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private messaging services for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws.
The chairman, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said that a lawyer for Ms. Trump, President Trump’s daughter, and Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, told the committee late last year that in addition to a private email account, Mr. Kushner uses an unofficial encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp, for official White House business, including with foreign contacts.
Mr. Cummings said the lawyer, Abbe Lowell, also told lawmakers that Ms. Trump did not preserve some emails sent to her private account if she did not reply to them.
Democrats have barely been able to contain their frustration at what they see as a dark irony in the findings — and in earlier news reports about the couple’s use of private email accounts.
Oh, BUSTED: Jared Kushner has been using WhatsApp and his personal email to conduct White House business. “Cummings is now demanding that the White House hand over documents related to Kushner’s use of the app, which he has reportedly used to communicate with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The congressman may issue subpoenas forcing the White House to comply if it doesn’t hand over the Kushner-related documents by April 4th.”
Oh, BUSTED: House Oversight Chair accuses Ivanka Trump of breaking federal law by not preserving emails. “In a letter on Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said that Ivanka Trump’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, informed the committee last year that his client did not preserve emails if she does not respond to them.” Cummings suggested that the practice is in violation of the Presidential Records Act, according to The Associated Press.
And it’s not just the Trump crime family. But their emails: Seven members of Trump’s team have used unofficial communication tools:
If Trump’s broad criticism [of Hillary Clinton] was true, that the use of a private account to conduct official business is suspect — if not illegal — and represents an effort to mask illicit activity, then we have bad news for him: An awful lot of that same suspect activity is taking place in his administration.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka Trump, both advisers to the president, had used either personal email accounts or the messaging application WhatsApp to conduct official business, according to information from the House Oversight Committee. The latter is particularly problematic because messages are encrypted between users, meaning that unless Kushner and Ivanka Trump stored copies of their messages or the recipients turned the messages over to the government, there’s no way to record what was said.
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It wasn’t just Kushner and Ivanka Trump. The committee learned that former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland and former adviser Stephen K. Bannon had also, at times, used personal email accounts for official business. Some of those communications, the Journal reports, dealt with a proposal to send nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. McFarland’s account was through AOL, according to the New York Times.
And these are only the most recent examples. In 2017, the Times reportedthat other Trump administration officials, including adviser Stephen Miller, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn had all used personal email accounts to conduct official business.
That’s seven officials, past and present, who used personal email accounts: Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Miller, Cohn, Bannon, McFarland and Priebus.
But wait, there’s more!
The national security clearance scandal over Ken and Barbie, er, Jared and Ivanka, who denied that daddy personally intervened with the White House’s Personnel Security Office to get them a security clearance — they all looked right into the camera and lied to the American people — blew up this week with the revelations from a whistleblower from that office. The Washington Post reports, White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration:
A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her “last hope” for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation’s secrets exposed.
Tricia Newbold, a longtime White House security adviser, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her colleagues issued “dozens” of denials for security clearance applications that were later approved despite their concerns about blackmail, foreign influence or other red flags, according to panel documents released Monday.
Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the security clearance process who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, said she warned her superiors that clearances “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security” — and that she faced retaliation for doing so.
Newbold’s allegations intensify pressure on the White House over its handling of security clearances, a controversy that burst into public view last year with the revelation that dozens of staffers had temporary approvals to access sensitive government information while they awaited clearance approval.
Among them was presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, who President Trump ultimately demanded be granted a permanent top-secret clearance, despite the concerns of intelligence officials.
Newbold alleged that 25 individuals were given clearances or access to national security information since 2018 despite concerns about ties to foreign influence, conflicts of interests, questionable or criminal conduct, financial problems, or drug abuse.
That group includes “two current senior White House officials,” according to documents released by the House Oversight Committee.
The panel did not identify the senior White House officials but asked the White House to immediately provide documents related to the security clearances of nine officials, including Kushner, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and national security adviser John Bolton.
UPDATE: Kushner is identified as senior White House official whose security clearance was denied by career officials: Kushner was identified only as “Senior White House Official 1” in committee documents released this week describing the testimony of Tricia Newbold.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the committee chairman, said in a letter to the White House Counsel’s Office that his panel would vote on Tuesday to subpoena Carl Kline, who served as personnel security director at the White House during the first two years of the administration — the committee’s first compulsory move aimed at the White House.
Newbold alleged that Kline, then her direct manager, overruled her clearance denials and then retaliated against her when she objected.
Cummings vowed more subpoenas would follow if the White House did not cooperate with his panel’s investigation.
“The Committee has given the White House every possible opportunity to cooperate with this investigation, but you have declined,” Cummings wrote in the Monday letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone. “Your actions are now preventing the committee from obtaining the information it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.”
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In a letter to the committee, Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Kline, said Kline is willing to voluntarily testify but said his testimony may be constrained by executive privilege issues. [This would only apply to confidential communications with the resident, so this is pretty much an admission that Trump personally intervened to order the security clearances.]
“Neither Carl nor I are worried about the merits of this inquiry, as facts always win out in the end,” Driscoll said in a statement.
Of course, Republicans are only concerned about protecting their “Dear Leader” and not American national security. Remember the raging assholes from the GOP House Freedom Caucus who conducted eight separate investigations into “Benghazi!” as if it was the crime of the century? Rep. “Gym” Jordan (R-OH) now rages at ‘reckless’ Democrats for their oversight of White House security clearances:
“It is extremely unfortunate and disappointing that Chairman Cummings is now using this sensitive topic as a pretense for a partisan attack on the White House,” Jordan said.
Irony is dead.
Republicans have been defending the Trump Administration’s decisions on security clearances — which only succeeds in drawing more attention to them.
In a memo on Monday, House Republicans tried to paint Newbold as a tool of Democratic partisans. Politico’s Kyle Cheney discussed the memo on Twitter, noting that Republicans are saying Newbold’s complaints are “overblown” because “only 4-5” of the people granted security clearances despite her objections had “very serious” security problems.
In other words, one out of five of them had very serious security issues.
Rep. Liz Cheney [– the spawn of Satan –] also noted that Newbold “said top officials routinely overrode career employees and dismissed things like ‘foreign influence’ when doling out clearances.”
Responding to Cheney’s tweets, Twitter user @BrianLWilcox wrote, “So the official @HouseGOP position on national security is that it’s just fine and dandy” that people with “very serious security-related issues….have been granted clearances.”
UPDATE: The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted 22 to 15, along party lines on Tuesday, to force Carl Kline, the former White House personnel security director, to answer questions as part of its ongoing investigation into the security-clearance process. House panel votes to subpoena former White House official over security clearances.
Legal experts are outraged. ‘This is insane’: Legal experts furious over White House security clearance bombshells:
A White House whistleblower revealed that senior Trump administration officials intervened to grant security clearance to more than two dozen officials who were initially denied access to top-secret information.
Tricia Newbold, who works in the White House Personnel Security Office, told Congress last month that she kept a list of up to 25 people, some of whom had daily access to President Donald Trump, who had been granted access to highly sensitive material despite serious disqualifying issues such as foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use and criminal conduct.
Law enforcement and national security experts were aghast at the revelations.