A whistleblower from inside the Trump White House just told all to the House Oversight Committee and they’ve released a summary of her interview that reveals a tremendous national security risk.
House Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to the White House demanding answers after the whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, revealed that career staff issued 25 security clearance failure notices and Trump approved each one to receive Top Secret anyway.
The House Oversight Committee has been asking for records since the start of this Congress, and now, Cummings says that they’ll begin compulsory process because of the problems their whistleblower revealed in confidence to his committee for these reasons:
— On why she came forward: “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.”
— On the impact to national security: Security clearance applications for White House officials “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.”
— On White House retaliation: “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.”
— On need for Congress to act now: “this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.”
Rep. Cummings’ frustration with the White House’s stonewalling is apparent in the memo he sent to Trump’s counsel Pat Cipollone.
“On March 1, 2019, I wrote to you in order to request—for a ‘final time’—that the White House cooperate voluntarily,” wrote Cummings. “In response, the White House has refused to produce a single piece of paper or a single requested witness.”
The letter specified a lengthy list of White House personnel who will now be subpoenaed to testify, including the Chief of Security. Cummings also demanded a document produced by Newbold, which lists all of the 25 people whom Trump gave security clearance after they failed background checks.
Newbold has already faced retaliation for pointing out Trump’s security clearance decisions and testified to the committee that the national security implications are vast:
“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.”
“And I feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.”
Cummings’s letter to the White House ends with a stern warning about the rights of federal whistleblowers and the criminal statutes that apply to government officials who engage in retaliatory conduct.
Congress has passed a series of laws giving it oversight powers and requiring the Executive Branch to disclose national security information to our elected Representatives.
But President Trump is treating the Democratic-led House like it’s not even part of the government, let alone the co-equal branch of government that it is.
Now, House Democrats will very likely take Trump to court to enforce their demands for documents and testimony, opening up the White House staff to the threat of Contempt of Congress proceedings which can result in up to 12 months imprisonment. If White House witnesses still refuse to appear, Congress may resort to using its inherent contempt powers to seize them until they testify, which is only used in the most extreme cases.
House Republicans sharpened the powers of the majority to issue subpoenas to check the president while endlessly investigating settled matters, but it will be Donald Trump who gets to face House Democrats wielding those expanded powers of inquiry to root out his actual corruption.