A whistleblower from inside the White House has told congressional investigators that senior Trump administration officials granted national security clearances to at least 25 people that government reviewers had rejected for an array of concerns.
The whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, said the officials, cleared for security credentials after career employees recommended they be denied, include two current unnamed senior White House officials, government contractors, and other staff aides working for the office of President Donald Trump.
Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the security clearance process under both Republican and Democratic presidents, last month told investigators for the House Oversight and Reform Committee that while Trump had the right as president to overrule career employees’ denials of the security badges, the officials’ clearances “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.”
The committee chairman, Congressman Elijah Cummings, told the panel’s members that Newbold told investigators that those eventually cleared by senior Trump administration officials “had a wide range of serious disqualifying issues involving foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.”
Newbold told investigators she had been suspended for 14 days without pay earlier this year after protesting internally about the way in which the security clearance denials had been overturned and now was worried about returning to work after she decided to go public with her concerns.
“I’m terrified of going back,” she told investigators. “I know that this will not be perceived in favor of my intentions, which is to bring back the integrity of the office.”
But Newbold said she decided to become a whistleblower because “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.”
Cummings’s memo on Newbold’s statements to investigators did not identify any of the officials who have been granted security clearances against the recommendations of the security reviewers.
But the panel said it is reviewing the clearances given to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both of whom are White House advisers, and national security adviser John Bolton. News accounts earlier this year said Trump had personally intervened last year to overrule then-White House chief of staff John Kelly to grant a clearance to Kushner, a move Kelly found so unsettling that he recorded Trump’s direction to him in a memo.
Cummings, in a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, said he “has given the White House every possible opportunity to cooperate with the investigation, but you have declined. Your actions are now preventing the committee from obtaining the information it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.”
Cummings said his panel would vote Tuesday to subpoena Newbold’s former boss, Carl Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, along with five other current and former White House officials involved with the security reviews to testify about their role in the clearances.
The White House had no immediate comment on the security clearance issues. (VOA)
Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.
In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s reelection in 2020.
Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?
“I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.
“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.
“They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t micro-targeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each persona.
He continued: “I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand? I find myself thinking of the Lord of the Rings at this moment”.
“Specifically when Frodo offers the ring to Galadrial (Galadriel) and she imagines using the power righteously, at first, but knows it will eventually corrupt her,” he wrote.
“As tempting as it is to use the tools available to us to change the outcome, I am confident we must never do that or we will become that which we fear.”
“To be clear, I’m no fan of Trump. I donated the max to Hillary,” he tried to clarify his stand.
Bosworth said that it is worth reminding everyone that Russian interference was real but it was mostly not done through advertising.
“$100,000 in ads on Facebook can be a powerful tool but it can’t buy you an American election, especially when the candidates themselves are putting up several orders of magnitude more money on the same platform (not to mention other platforms),” he wrote.
Instead, the Russians worked to exploit existing divisions in the American public for example by hosting Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protest events in the same city on the same day.
“Misinformation was also real and related but not the same as Russian interference,” Bosworth mentioned, admitting that Cambridge Analytica was one of the more acute cases where the details were almost all wrong. (IANS)