John Kelly Has Approved An Overhaul On Handling White House Security Clearances Amid The Rob Porter Scandal

Getty Image

Potentially still reeling from the criticism that he’s received over the way he has handled the ongoing Rob Porter scandal, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has decided to overhaul the process in which the White House conducts security clearance investigations.

In a document obtained by the Washington Post, Kelly outlines the new procedure, which appears to acknowledge past mistakes but places the brunt of the responsibility on the FBI and Justice Department which will now be required to hand-deliver important updates. Kelly worked with White House lawyer Don McGahn, who has also been implicated in the Rob Porter scandal, in order to create the new policy.

The memo is addressed to national security advisor H.R. McMaster and McGahn. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray are all copied.

In the memo, Kelly says “recent events have exposed some remaining shortcomings” in the security clearance request process.

The memo says the FBI and Justice Department have offered their cooperation with Kelly’s requests in recent days, and that “going forward, all [background investigations] of potential Commissioned Officers should be flagged for the FBI at the outset and then hand-delivered to the White House Counsel personally upon completion. 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.”

Perhaps one of the bigger ramifications of the new memo is that starting next week, all interim security clearances for individuals whose investigations have been pending since June 1, 2017, or before (which could include Jared Kushner and any number of others in the White House) will be discontinued.

(Via Washington Post)