Under fire, Kelly makes changes to White House security clearance process

The president wished Porter well while speaking to journalists in the Oval Office on Friday

Ms. Sanders following his testimony acknowledged that she couldn't say "with 100-percent certainty" that officials including Mr. Trump's Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, and White House Counsel Donald McGahn had been unaware of the red flags that had been thrown up to block the security clearance for Mr. "The American people deserve a White House staff that clearly meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted - especially those who work closely with the president or handle sensitive national security information", the memo, which is addressed to White House counsel Don McGahn, National Security Adviser HR McMaster, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joseph Hagin.

"The events of the last 10 days have focused enormous attention on a clearance process that has been in place for multiple administrations", Kelly announced in a memo on Friday that was first obtained by The Washington Post.

The issue has been in the spotlight for two weeks since it was revealed that former staff secretary Rob Porter had an interim clearance that allowed him access to classified material despite allegations of spousal abuse from two ex-wives. Porter during their marriages.

According to reports from NBC News and CNN this week, about 100 White House administrations lacked long-term security clearances as of November 2017.

The deepening scandal called into question the administration's veracity as Republicans and Democrats pressured Mr. Kelly to detail what had happened.

An FBI official would then verbally brief the White House counsel on "significantly derogatory information" discovered during its investigation. Kushner continues to only have interim security clearance after 13 months in the White House, since his background check still isn't finished, most likely because he has had to repeatedly revise his disclosure form regarding foreign contacts to add information he had previously omitted. FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the bureau had completed its investigation into Porter in July.

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The memo also recommends that all Top Secret and SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearances that have been pending since last June be discontinued in a week.

Kelly worked closely with White House Counsel Donald McGahn in discussing and outlining the changes, according to officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

And while members of the National Security Council reportedly request more intel than Kushner, there's reason to be anxious about security clearances among that group as well.

The paper reported Saturday that Kushner requests more classified documents than nearly anyone on Trump's staff. He also ended in September the practice of granting new interim security clearances "absent extraordinary circumstances" and his signoff, and directed a review of pending security clearance applications. Going forward, I am directing that those who have a need to know the contents of BIs for personnel or national security reasons - to include me or a designee in the Chief of Staff's Office - be memorialized.

"In the past, credible and substantiated reports of past domestic abuse - even physical abuse - were not considered automatic disqualifiers for suitability for employment or a security clearance".

The Trump administration has said Porter's security-clearance investigation remained open because the White House Personnel Security Office, which approves clearances, had not finished its work. That needs to be revisited.

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