House Democrats to investigate White House security clearances
By Doina Chiacu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A House of Representatives oversight panel said on Wednesday it would investigate the White House security clearance process, including questions about unreported Russian contacts involving President Donald Trump's son-in-law and national security aides. U.S
By Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A House of Representatives oversight panel said on Wednesday it would investigate the White House security clearance process, including questions about unreported Russian contacts involving President Donald Trump's son-in-law and national security aides.
U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the probe was "in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump administration."
Cummings said the panel would seek information in the cases of current and former officials including Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner, national security adviser John Bolton, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former staff secretary Rob Porter.
He said lawmakers would examine why Trump's transition team and the White House "appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information."
The panel would also "evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them," Cummings said.
In a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Cummings questioned why the White House did not suspend the security clearances of Kushner and Flynn after they failed to disclose contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russia and is cooperating in the investigation of Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Cummings also questioned whether Bolton disclosed previous contacts with accused Russian spy Maria Butina when he was an official with the National Rifle Association, the U.S. gun lobby group.
The White House was not immediately available for comment.
Trump's former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, last year acknowledged shortcomings in the clearance process in response to a scandal involving Porter, who was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.
In response to that scandal, Kelly in February 2018 decreed that any interim security clearances for staffers whose background investigations were pending since June 1 or before would be discontinued.
Dozens of officials, including Kushner, had worked under temporary clearances in the absence of final security clearance.
Kushner had his security clearance restored in May, allowing him access to classified information.
Normally a security clearance investigation takes up to several months to complete, but Porter’s had gone on for about a year without a resolution.
It took an unusually long time for Kushner’s background check to be completed, raising questions about whether he might be in trouble in Mueller’s investigation.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by David Alexander and Marguerita Choy)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.