In a stunning revelation this week, Carl Kline, the former director of the White House’s Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that leaks regarding highly classified security clearances in President Trump’s administration “likely emanated from the Office’s adjudication team,” according to a memo issued by the committee. Kline also stressed during his testimony this week that no one in the White House, or anyone else for that matter, had approached him or pressured him to grant security clearances.
The 43-year public servant and military veteran, Kline revealed during his testimony that classified leaks more than likely came from the security clearance office that was adjudicating the White House personnel applications and he noted the severity of the leaks to the media.
“Mr. Kline testified that until recently he had never seen sensitive personal information from security clearance files being “pushed” to the media. On a personal level, Mr. Klinetestified that he found the leaks from someone in the White House Personnel Security Office to be “troubling,” and said the leaks could be a threat to national security. Mr. Kline testified the information disclosed in the media likely emanated from the Office’s adjudication team.”
Kline’s testimony was in response to testimony by Tricia Newbold, who worked under Kline. She testified at the request of Maryland Democrat Chairman Elijah Cummings. Ranking Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, accused Cummings of initiating “a partisan investigation into what he described as the White House’s ‘security clearance process.'”
“Chairman Cummings recently made clear, however, that the real purpose of his investigation is to obtain sensitive details about specific people, including the President’s daughter and son-in-law, both of whom serve on the White House staff and were deemed eligible for national security information.”
Newbold accused Kline in March of overruling recommendations of security specialists.
Last year, a series of leaks published by the New York Times, NBC News, and other outlets, suggested that White House Senior Advisor and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was originally denied his security clearance but then the decision was over turned by President Trump. Kline emphatically stated in his testimony that this was not the case.
“Mr. Kline testified that no one ever attempted to influence him to grant or overturn a security clearance adjudication determination,” he said. “He explained, ‘I have never been approached by anybody at the White House or outside the White House to adjudicate a case, one way or the other, in my tenure at the White House,'” the memo states.
A former senior law enforcement official, with knowledge of the security clearance process, said leaking classified information regarding those being adjudicated is a felony and “must be investigated.”
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in 2017 that the DOJ is investigating 27 classified leaks. Thus far, the DOJ under Attorney General William Barr, has not revealed where the department is in the course of the leak investigations or if the disclosure of information in Kushner’s SF-86 is currently under investigation.
Every security clearance was handled appropriately and in the correct manner and was sent to the CIA for Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (SCI) security clearances, he added.
“Mr. Kline testified that Ms. Newbold was “resistant” to Mr. Kline’s policies and changes,” stated the memo. “For example, Mr. Kline testified that Ms. Newbold did not follow Mr. Kline’s policy of scanning and sending documents to the CIA for SCI (sensitive compartmentalized information) processing. Despite Mr. Kline’s guidance to staff on how to implement the policy, Mr. Kline said that Ms. Newbold did not follow his instructions.”
Kline also testified that Newbold “subverted his instructions and independently reached out to the CIA to discuss the policy. However, Mr. Kline later learned that the CIA approved of his policy.”
Information in the security clearance application, known as an SF-86, is considered highly classified to protect the privacy of the person applying, their families and the government.
Kline’s work experience is vast, including “experience in security clearance adjudications, processing background investigations, and making determinations of whether federal employees should have access to classified information,” the memo states. Kline also testified that he worked with the “Department of Navy’s security appeals board and on security reform efforts,” according to the memo.
According to several congressional officials, it appeared that Cummings was using the investigation into Kline to gather personal and sensitive information on Trump’s family members, as well as other senior White House officials.
“Democrats exploited and distorted Ms. Newbold’s testimony to create a misleading narrative about Mr. Kline,” the memo states. “The Democrats’ irresponsible actions fed speculation about the specific information in the background files of particular White House employees, including the President’s daughter and son-in-law. The Chairman’s fixation with the President’s family has emerged as a central theme in the 116th Congress.”