Beyer And Lieu Introduce Legislation To Reform Security Clearance Approval Process In Wake Of Trump Abuses
Washington, February 2, 2021
Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) today introduced the Security Clearance Review Act, legislation that would reform the process by which security clearances are approved for political appointees in the Executive Office of the President. Beyer and Lieu were the first Members of Congress to raise questions in early 2017 about discrepancies in the security clearance paperwork filed by Jared Kushner, and later by Ivanka Trump. A whistleblower ultimately revealed they had been secretly approved by President Trump over the objections of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, following serious issues raised by career staff in the office responsible for vetting new employees.
“Our legislation would help prevent future abuses of the security clearance process for political appointees in the Executive Office of the President like those seen under Donald Trump, who secretly overrode serious objections by career staff and his own Chief of Staff to grant security clearances to his son-in-law and daughter,” said Rep. Beyer. “In the wake of Watergate, a resurgent Congress stepped into the breach created by the corruption of Richard Nixon to restore the balance of powers and fix breakdowns caused by his administration. Donald Trump’s malfeasance has been even more widespread and destructive, and the response from Congress in this moment must be commensurate. Our bill would prevent untrustworthy people with major security concerns from ever being secretly given access to our most sensitive intelligence ever again, which is one of numerous reforms which Congress should consider in response to the Trump Administration.”
The Security Clearance Review Act would empower the Director of the FBI to issue a written recommendation to the President that an individual flagged by the White House security office be denied final approval to receive a security clearance. Such a recommendation would be accompanied by notifications to the Chair and Ranking Member of House and Senate Intelligence, Oversight, and Judiciary Committees. In compliance with Article II of the Constitution, the President would have the ability to overrule such a recommendation and grant approval to persons so flagged, but the legislation would require that such a decision be justified to Congress in writing.
Text of the Security Clearance Review Act is available here.