Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Insecurity at the White House

In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of  scandal
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.
-- Machiavelli
White House staff secretary Rob Porter had to quit this week because his ex-wives told the media that he beat them.  Chief of staff John Kelly screwed up the situation royally, as Chris Cillizza explains at CNN:
Let's review the facts here. Porter's ex-wives told the FBI in January 2017 that he had abused them verbally and physically. Thirteen months later, Porter still had no permanent security clearance due to the questions regarding these incidents. That, coupled with the fact that Kelly had come to learn at least some of the allegations against Porter last fall, make Kelly's urging Porter to stay on the job all the more appalling.
At no point in the past year did Kelly not think to ask why Porter's security clearance hadn't come through? After all, Porter was one of the people who spent the most time with President Trump on a daily basis -- and someone who was, effectively, the gate-keeper of all information that Trump saw. Upon hearing the allegations -- or part of them -- against Porter last fall, Kelly never felt like it was his job to find out more? And, after learning more of the details earlier this week, Kelly thought it made sense to put out a fulsome statement praising Porter -- a statement that was crafted at least in part by White House communications director Hope Hicks, who was romantically involved with Porter?
Also at CNN,  Jim Sciutto, Gloria Borger and Zachary Cohen report:
Thirty to 40 White House officials and administration political appointees are still operating without full security clearances, including senior adviser to President Donald Trump Jared Kushner and -- until recently -- White House staffer Rob Porter, according to a US official and a source familiar with the situation.
The White House claims that the backlog of interim security clearances is a procedural consequence of the review process carried out by the FBI and White House Office of Security, which can take time to complete.
But several sources, including intelligence officials who have served previous Democratic and GOP administrations, describe the backlog as very unusual and make clear that the process should have been completed after a year in office.
Eliana Johnson at Politico:
“The concept of interim clearances was created for somebody in a position of importance to be able to come on board and start working right away while the investigation ran its course,” said Bradley Moss, an attorney who specializes in security clearance law. “I’ve never heard of somebody just being allowed to sit on an interim clearance indefinitely. It runs contrary to the entire concept of the clearance process."
That’s why Kelly concluded that White House aides whose backgrounds would preclude them from receiving full clearances would have to go, according to the senior administration official.
However, Moss added, the president himself holds the ultimate authority over the clearance process, which he can alter by executive order – though it would be unprecedented. “If he wants individuals like Jared Kushner and Rob Porter to just sit with interim clearances for three years, he can do that,” Moss said.