A White House whistleblower has said the Trump administration overruled security experts to give questionable security clearances to more than two dozen people, including the president's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Tricia Newbold, a White House security adviser, told Democrats in Congress that clearances were initially denied to dozens of administration officials because of concerns over possible foreign influence, conflicts of interests, questionable or criminal conduct, financial problems or drug abuse.
Newbold's allegations were laid out in a letter sent to the White House on Monday and released by Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee.
The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on the issue on Tuesday, where New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lit into Kushner for conducting foreign policy over WhatsApp.
Ocasio-Cortez cited reports that Kushner used the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp to talk to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, instead of secure lines of communication.
“Reports are suggesting that we are conducting foreign relations by people with security clearances via WhatsApp!” she said. “Every day that we go on without getting to the bottom of this matter is a day that we are putting hundreds, if not potentially thousands, of Americans at risk. I mean, really, what is next? Putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs? This is ridiculous.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed the Oversight Committee’s investigation, claiming Democrats are politicizing national security.
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“What the Democrats are doing is playing a very dangerous and a shameful game, frankly,” Sanders told reporters Tuesday. “They’re putting the 3 million people that do have a security clearance at risk. If you [pull] one individual, you’re putting all 3 million people’s personal information at risk.”
sked about the whistleblower's assertions, Kushner said in an interview on Fox News Channel that he had complied with various investigations.
"I disclosed all of my holdings for the Office of Government Ethics, and what I did with them is they told me what to divest, what to keep, what rules to follow. We followed all that," Kushner said.
Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House committee, issued a statement calling the letter a "partisan attack" that was "an excuse to go fishing through the personal files of dedicated public servants."
Cummings said Newbold, a manager in the White House personnel security office, said she was targeted for retaliation after declining to approve applications based on national security protocols.
"I'm terrified of going back. I know that this will not be perceived in favor of my intentions, which is to bring back the integrity of the office," she is quoted as saying in the letter Cummings sent to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.