The White House this week rejected a request from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to hand over documents and details related to its security clearance process.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter Monday to Cummings, who chairs the House oversight committee investigating the matter. The letter said President Donald Trump’s administration would brief the committee about security clearance processes, but would not provide documents explaining the process for granting security clearances to top Trump aides like Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. Cipollone’s letter called the request “radically intrusive.”
“Although we are prepared to continue negotiations in good faith, the committee seeks unilateral concessions without any offer of accommodation on its part, and then complains that the White House has refused to simply turn over everything the committee inappropriately seeks,” Cipollone’s letter said. “These actions suggest that the committee is not interested in proper oversight, but rather seeks information that it knows cannot be provided consistent with applicable law.”
In a response Tuesday, Cummings called the existing security clearance system “broken” and announced plans to consult with committee members on the next step.
“The White House’s argument defies the Constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this Committee, and just plain common-sense,” Cummings wrote. “The White House security clearance system is broken, and it needs both congressional oversight and legislative reform.”
Cummings announced in January the committee’s investigation into the White House’s handling of classified information dating back to Trump’s 2016 election. The chairman said at the time that the security clearance abuses are “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels.”
Cummings expanded the committee’s investigation after The New York Times reported that Trump ordered then-chief of staff John Kelly to grant Kushner full security clearance despite the reservations of intelligence experts. Cummings said last week that he would give the White House one more chance to submit related documents before he considers issuing subpoenas.
Read the White House’s Monday letter below: