White House staffer Tricia Newbold was interviewed by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last week and what she told lawmakers led to her being identified as a whistleblower in a just-released committee report.
Newbold, 39, 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.
Among those 25 are two top-level presidential advisers, she said. It’s speculated that those may be Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
The 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.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The House Committee on Oversight & Reform Released a 10-Page Memo Outlining Newbold’s Claims & GOP Members Shot Back
The House report reads that Newbold said 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.
The 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.”
2. Money & Drug Problems & Criminal Conduct Were Among the Reasons For Security Clearance Denials. Newbold, Who is 4′ 2″ Tall, Says Kline Stored Security Files in Locations She Could Not Reach. Three Times
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.
She said she spoke to White House Director of Personnel Security Carl 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.
And she was suspended for two weeks without pay for speaking out.
And, in a particularly cruel act of discrimination, she 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.
“… feel that right now this is my last hope to really bring the integrity back into our office.”
3. 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.”
‘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.’
4. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings Promised to Issue Subpoenas. Kline Was Served This Week
CNN reported that House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings will issue a subpoena this week for Carl Kline. Kline served as Trumps personnel security director.
Cummings has been asking for documents and meetings about security clearances for months.
Cummings wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone requesting “full and immediate compliance” with the Committee’s investigation and previous requests for documents and witness interviews. The March 1 letter came on the heels of reports ”
Trump pushed for his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, to receive a security clearance despite numerous red flags—directly contradicting the President’s public denials just eight days after the Committee launched its investigation.”
The White House has never produced documents nor made witness interviews possible.
5. Newbold is an Executive Branch Career Employee Who’s Worked Under Republican & Democrat Presidents
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. Indeed, she’s spent her whole working life as a employee of the federal government. Currently, she serves as the Adjudications Manager in the Personnel Security Office.
According to her LinkedIn, 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.”
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.'”