February 13, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON– Today, Congressmen Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Don Beyer (D-VA) wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting detailed information regarding the White House’s security clearance approval process.  The letter follows reports that potentially dozens of senior Trump Administration officials who lack a permanent clearance may currently be accessing highly classified materials that they are not authorized to handle or possess. 

In the letter, the Members write:

Dear Director Wray:

It has come to our attention that several individuals in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) are handling classified information without permanent security clearances and/or positive adjudications of background checks required for their employment at the White House.

As you know, interim security clearances typically authorize disclosure of information classified at the SECRET level. Access to TOP SECRET and specialized compartments of extreme sensitivity requires favorable adjudication of the full security clearance process.

Due to the seniority of several White House officials who reportedly have not received positive security clearance adjudications and the extremely sensitive information that the President must receive in order to do his job, we are concerned that individuals who do not have – and may never receive – proper clearances nevertheless have access to view and handle such information. 

In light of this concern, please provide within 30 days of transmission of this letter answers to the following questions:

  1. How many clearances are the FBI, National Background Investigations Bureau, OPM, the CIA, and/or any other U.S. Government Department or Agency currently processing for individuals working in the EOP?
  2. What is the total number of EOP clearances? What is the total number of EOP clearances deemed “interim” or otherwise “temporary?” Please include information for individuals both employed directly by the EOP and detailed to the EOP from other organizations within the U.S. Government, universities, think tanks, and/or the private sector.
  3. What is the procedure for recovering SECRET or other sensitive information disclosed to a security clearance candidate that fails to receive a positive security clearance adjudication?
  4. What is the procedure for terminating employment for a security clearance candidate that fails to receive a positive security clearance adjudication?
  5. What is the procedure for granting an interim security clearance to an employee who could reasonably be expected to encounter compartmentalized or codeword-classified information due to the nature of his position?
  6. What is the process for extending an interim security clearance beyond the two standard 180 day periods? Please include approval authority, both within the EOP or other requesting agency and within the approval agency.
  7. Can an individual be granted an “interim” or otherwise “temporary” security clearance that grants her access to information classified at the TOP SECRET or compartmentalized level?

If answers to the above questions are classified or contain personally identifiable information, we will be pleased to host you or your designate in appropriate, secure spaces in Congress.  

As you know, unauthorized disclosure of CONFIDENTIAL information can be expected to cause damage to national security. Unauthorized disclosure of SECRET information can be expected to cause serious damage to national security. Unauthorized disclosure of TOP SECRET information can be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. 

For this reason, any systemic, known, or otherwise inappropriate disclosure of classified information to unsuitable, insecure, or unauthorized persons represents a major security threat. This threat exists whether or not those persons are employed at the White House. 

Thank you for your careful consideration of our concerns, and thank you for your service to the Nation.