Trump appointee Carl Kline allegedly got back at now-whistleblower Tricia Newbold by making sure the four-foot, two-inch woman wouldn’t be able to retrieve security files she was working on without asking for help; he had the documents placed out of her reach.
And for speaking up about what she saw going on, she was suspended without pay for two weeks.
Now Kline, who spent 2017 as head of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President, is facing a subpoena to be deposed by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform related to its White House security clearances investigation.
Kline’s lawyer sought to have the subpoena quashed, but Kline is reported to have said he welcomed the opportunity, but only to speak in generalities.
“Carl Kline offered to speak to the committee voluntarily, but only about general security policies, no specific cases,” but the House voted to approve the subpoena across party lines.
Kline, who was appointed by Trump in 2017 to the post of Security Administrator at the Office of Administration. He was paid $161,900 for the year he held the job. According to the Office of Personnel Management, Kline, as a GS-15 under the federal pay scale, was in the highest-paid 10 percent of employees in the Office of Administration.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Newbold Stepped Forward at ‘Great Personal Risk’ As Others Feared For Their Jobs if They Spoke Up. Kline Was Head of Security in the Trump White House in 2017
Newbold, formerly Tricia Picard of Madawaska, Maine, is an 18-year, non-partisan career employee of the Executive Office of the President under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Currently, she serves as the Adjudications Manager in the Personnel Security Office.
Newbold was interviewed by members of House Oversight in late March and what she told lawmakers led to her being identified as a whisteblower. She came forward, the report reads, at “great personal risk to expose grave and continuing failures of the White House security clearance system, including the security clearance adjudications of senior White House officials.”
She alleges that 25 people in the Trump Administration saw their initial security clearance denials overridden by top White House officials, it was reported and outlined in the April 1 Committee memo.
The memo reads that Newbold told lawmakers that among the most “serious disqualifying issues” were “foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct.”
She said while she got that denials could be reversed, she believes “…that these decisions were occurring without proper analysis, documentation, or a full understanding and acceptance of the risks.”
“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,” Newbold said adding she’d gone to all the proper channels to address her concerns without success.
As part of its investigation, the oversight committee had previously asked a number of times to speak with “officials in the White House Security Office, but the White House sought to block these witnesses from cooperating with the Committee.” Committee members, hoping to protect her, “was forced to schedule her interview on a weekend, without much notice” to members. She spent a full day Saturday with members “until both Democratic and Republican staff exhausted all of their questions.”
It’s reported that others have corroborated her account but are “too afraid about the risk to their careers to come forward publicly.”
2. The High Level Security Clearance Reversals for Top White House Staffers Was ‘Not in the Best Interest of National Security
In a 10-page summary of the interview with Newbold, she repeated that White House security clearance applications “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.”
Newbold told legislators that “she and other career officials adjudicated denials of applications for multiple security clearances that were later overturned by senior officials in order to grant the employees access to classified information.”
In other words, she was one of the staff to turn down applications only to see those decisions overruled.
She said that she began to keep a list in 2018 of White House staff whose denials were reversed. Her list now numbers 25 and includes, the memo reads, “two current senior White House officials, as well as contractors and individuals throughout different components of the Executive Office of the President.”
Meanwhile, in a breaking development, Committee GOP members say she “provided little direct knowledge …” especially about the high-level staffers whose clearances were changed.
Republican members of the committee said Democrats have “cherry-picked” her statements and are “misusing to manufacture a misleading narrative that the trump White House is reckless with our national security.”
3. Kline & the Questionable Security Clearance Overrides for ‘Senior White House Officials 1, 2, & 3’
Newbold described specific cases where “she and other adjudicators issued denials of security clearances for very senior White House officials, but were later overruled.”
Newbold said she spoke to Kline, his supervisor, Chief Operations Officer Samuel Price and “raised my concerns to White House Counsel on numerous occasions.” But she did not stop there: “I raised my concerns to Marcia Kelly, who was the Assistant to the President at the time. I raised my time—or concerns to individuals within Employee Relations, and I raised my concerns to people within the EEO office.” And recently shared her worries with Chief Security Officer Crede Bailey. She got nowhere.
‘Senior White House Official 1,’ she said was disqualified for “foreign influence, outside activities and personal conduct” Kline reversed the denial.
She said Kline “failed to address all of the disqualifying concerns” and later, she was contacted by another agency where “‘Senior White House Official 1 applied for an even higher level of clearance.” The agency wanted to know how her department had approved the application.
And as to ‘Senior White House Official 2,’ Kline told her “do not touch” that application.
And ‘Senior White House Official 3’s’ application as set to be denied when Kline “called me in his office and asked me to change the recommendation. I said I absolutely would not.”
In that case, she won the battle and that individual’s denial stood and is “no longer at the White House,” but not before Kline spoke to #3 “on a daily basis.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that its sources familiar with the House investigation claim Kushner is ‘Senior White House Official 1.’
Among those 25 are two top-level presidential advisers, she said. It’s speculated that those may be Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Trump ordered that Kushner be given a top-secret security clearance even though security staffers and Trump’s then chief of staff John Kelley’s reported objections.
4. Newbold Filed a Discrimination Complaint Against Kline When he Stored Security Files in Locations the 4′ 2″ Security Clearance Administrator Could Not Reach
Suspended for two weeks without pay for speaking out, she suffered alleged retaliatory discrimination at the hands of Kline.
Newbold alleges that in December of 2017, Kline placed security documents and files in locations that were out of her reach; she’s 4′ 2″ tall. He told her if she need files to ask someone to get them for her. She filed a discrimination complaint.
Newbold told the Bangor Daily News that in her nearly two decades in government service, she’d never been discriminated against because of her height. Until Kline.
Newbold, who has an atypical form of dwarfism, said she was retaliated against.
“Following her raising national security concerns, Tricia Newbold claims her supervisor began to humiliate her — she has a rare form of dwarfism. ‘Mr. Kline repeatedly altered her office environment… such as physically elevating personnel security files out of her reach.'”
“… feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.”
Newbold has worked as a “security specialist for the federal government” since 2000.
In the early 2000s, she acted as security clerk, according to the Office of Personnel Management, and was promoted to be a member of the executive branch security administration in 2006. She earns around $120,000 a year and began with the government earning less than $30,000.
Newbold is quoted as saying she “came forward … because I just—I do not see a way forward positively in our office without coming to an external entity, and that’s because I have raised my concerns throughout the EOP to career staffers as well as political staffers. And I want it known that this is a systematic, it’s an office issue, and we’re not a political office, but these decisions were being continuously overrode.”
5. In Files Uncovered by Heavy, Kline’s Name Pops up in Curious Pentagon Matters & Apparently Quashed a 2017 New Rules Request on How Security Clearances Are Handled
In the spring of 2017, Kline, as Chief of Personnel Security for Security Policy and Oversight Directorate at the Department of Defense withdrew a policy and procedure rule related to those seeking top security clearance and in specific, those needing to complete form 86; the security investigations questionnaire.
“This rule will implement policy, assign responsibilities, and provide procedures for the DoD PSP; assign responsibilities and prescribe procedures for investigations of individuals seeking to hold national security positions or perform national security duties who are required to complete Standard Form (SF) 86, “Questionnaire for National Security Positions,” for personnel security investigations (PSIs); set procedures for DoD PSP national security eligibility for access determinations; personnel security actions; continuous evaluation (CE); and security education requirements for employees seeking eligibility for access to classified information or to hold a sensitive position (referred to in this part as “national security eligibility”); prescribe procedures for administrative due process for employees, excluding contractor personnel. Administrative due process for contractor personnel is governed by DoD Directive 5220.6, “Defense Industrial Personnel Security Clearance Review Program.”
No action will be taken on this rule in the near future. The rule is withdrawn.”
Kline is oft just referred to as a former Pentagon staffer; indeed, in records located by Heavy, his name shows up as a civilian Pentagon employee but in previously confidential documents. In one case, he was looped in with a controversial move by the Pentagon to classify a video of four Marines urinating on the “human remains of three” men in Afghanistan and the official complaint against the DoD for that action.