In one letter from White House counsel Cipollone, the White House argues they are willing to “make available for your review” documents about the White House security clearance process, but says the White House believes Congress doesn’t have the oversight authority to review individual security clearance decisions, given the belief Article II provides the President broad discretion about who he shares information with. Cipollone writes, “the President, Not Congress, Has the Power to Control National Security Information.” In another letter, he urges Cummings to make requests about security clearance information “narrowly focused” and “limited.”In Cipollone’s letter, he also asks Cummings not to go around the White House counsel’s office to try to obtain information directly from White House staffers. He specifically cites efforts to talk to Kelly.
“It’s crucial for the appropriate congressional committees to find out the truth of what happened here, and getting hold of these documents it appears would be the best way to do that,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said.
Bookbinder said that House Democrats should try not just to obtain the memos but also to release them, albeit with appropriate redactions. “Ultimately the public needs to know if the president is overriding national security interests based on personal relationships that he has,” Bookbinder said, adding that Democrats should aim for public release of as much information as national security permits, “in the interests of accountability.”
The oversight responsibilities of the Committee are set forth in House Rule X, clauses 2, 3, and 4.
House Rule X, clause 2(b), provides that the Committee shall review and study on a continuing basis—
(A) the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(B) the organization and operation of Federal agencies and entities having responsibilities for the administration and execution of laws and programs addressing subjects within its jurisdiction;
(C) any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new or additional legislation addressing subjects within its jurisdiction (whether or not a bill or resolution has been introduced with respect thereto); and
(D) future research and forecasting on subjects within its jurisdiction.
House Rule X, clause 3(i), provides that the Committee shall “review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government activities at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency.”
House Rule X, clause 4(c)(1), provides that the Committee shall:(A) receive and examine reports of the Comptroller General of the United States and submit to the House such recommendations as it considers necessary or desirable in connection with the subject matter of the reports;
(B) evaluate the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government; and
(C) study intergovernmental relationships between the States and municipalities and between the United States and international organizations of which the United States is a member.
A PRESIDENT enjoys a fair amount of discretion when it comes to designating subordinates for access to the nation’s secrets. But reports that President Trump personally intervened to get his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top-secret clearance raise serious concerns that Congress must investigate.
While Mr. Trump’s insular leadership style is hardly suited for the White House, nepotism is not the primary concern in this case. The main worry is that secrets may be shared inappropriately. Mr. Kushner’s clearance was reportedly granted despite the concerns of intelligence officials. The nature of their concern is not entirely clear, though The Post reported last year that the government had received indications that foreign governments were interested in taking advantage of Mr. Kushner’s complex family business arrangements, its financial needs and his lack of foreign policy experience.
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