The White House security specialist who spilled the beans on the “unwarranted security clearances” granted to presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and other Trump administration officials has filed for official whistleblower protections from the federal government after she was suspended without pay for ignoring the warnings from her supervisor to stay quiet about the scandal, according to a report from NBC News.
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According to sources informed about the situation, Tricia Newbold, the security specialist in question, had highlighted concerns about the eligibility of one senior administration staffer — which the inside sources say was Kushner — beginning in July of 2017.
NBC News obtained a copy of Newbold’s whistleblower complaint which alleges that her supervisor, Carl Kline, the director of the White House personnel security office, “repeatedly mishandled security files and has approved unwarranted security clearances.”
The complaint details an email that Newbold sent to Kline on July 18, 2017 about “potential derogatory information” concerning the unnamed individual that could affect his ability to secure his clearance. During this period, Jared Kushner was working in the White House under an interim clearance while the FBI conducted background checks.
The security specialist’s account of what standard procedure would call for in this type of situation outlines a process of meeting with the individual in question to discuss the incriminating information, which in this instance had already been vetted as “credible.”
In her complaint, Newbold says that Kline refused to follow this procedure, deciding that he “was going to wait until the [FBI] investigation was completed.” When she then “questioned why we were treating this individual any differently than we would any other individual,” Kline cut her off by saying that “he would not address this matter further.”
Newbold’s whistleblower accusation further alleges that she again raised her concerns about the same administration member — assumed to be Kushner — a little over a month after her initial conversation and was advised by Kline to ‘watch myself.’”
Just a few months later Kline overruled the objections by Newbold and one other career White House security specialist over the concerns about the presidential advisor’s foreign contacts that were detailed in his FBI background investigation and granted Kushner top-secret clearance, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
According to NBC News:
“Kushner’s was one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top-secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavorable information, according to the two sources.”
Newbold’s complaint to the office that deals with whistleblower allegations claims that she has been retaliated against for raising concerns about her supervisor’s “reckless security judgments.”
It is not the security specialist’s first complaint against Kline, whom she also accused of discrimination against her because of her height as someone with a rare form of dwarfism. She alleges that her supervisor purposefully moved files to which she needed access to a location out of her reach and callously told her to get her staff to help her when she needed them.
When NBC tried to reach Kline for comment about this violation of Equal Employment Opportunity regulations, he replied by text: “I don’t care.”
After she raised the security concerns about Kushner, Newbold was suspended from her job without pay for two weeks, although administration officials claim that it has nothing to do with her revelations about the breach of security protocols but was instead based on “failure to supervise, failure to follow instructions and defiance of authority.”
SInce Newbold has never before faced any other disciplinary action over the course of her 18-year career in the federal government, her case for being retaliated against for her disclosures of wrongdoing seems fairly strong, particularly with the news that late last year she had contacted Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is actively probing exactly how Kushner received his top-secret clearance, to give him her insight into the unusual overriding of her recommendations.
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Original reporting by Laura Strickler at NBC News.