John Kelly Outlines Improvements For Security Clearance Process

Chief of staff John Kelly is ordering changes to the White House security clearance process after allegations against an ex-aide

"The American people deserve a White House staff that meets the highest standards and that has been carefully vetted", read the Kelly memo that emphasized the importance of this in regard to staff working closely with the President or handling "sensitive national security information".

Reed Cordish's departure comes as the White House has faced an exodus of high-level staff in recent weeks and a scandal over its handling of domestic abuse charges and security clearances.

Kelly's memo comes just over a week after White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned after allegations of domestic abuse against him became public.

A senior technology aide to President Donald Trump is stepping down, the latest in a growing list of top officials to depart a turbulent White House in recent days.

Kelly's memo on future clearance practices is addressed to White House Counsel Don McGahn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Advisor H.R.McMaster, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin.

White House chief of staff John Kelly attends an infrastructure meting.

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The questionnaire, which is technically 127 pages (although some pages don't apply and others might go unused), is used for "background investigations, reinvestigations, and continuous evaluations of persons under consideration for, or retention of, national security positions", according to the Office of Management and Budget. Porter's ex-wives had leveled the accusations against Porter in interviews with FBI officials in early 2017, and FBI Director Chris Wray said the FBI provided the White House with updates on the investigation in March, July and November before closing the investigation in January. "The FBI official who delivers these files should verbally brief the White House Counsel on any information in those files they deem to be significantly derogatory".

Procedures for granting interim top-secret clearances will also be changed, according to the memo. Porter's ex-wives provided photographs of injuries they say they received during the alleged abuse. If any derogatory information turns up, no interim clearance is issued and the worker must wait until the full investigation is finished, said the official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the clearance process and demanded anonymity.

"The new policy announced by General Kelly will not affect Mr. Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the President", he added.

Limit access to certain highly classified information for those individuals working with interim clearance status absent explicit Chief of Staff's office approval, which would be granted only in the most compelling circumstances.

But in a statement to Agence France-Presse, his lawyer said "no concerns" had been raised about Kushner's ongoing clearance application.

Kelly also wrote of setting "benchmarks" for getting security clearances done in a timely fashion, though per WaPo he did not give any concrete details. Going forward, I am directing that those who have a need to know the contents of BIs for personnel or national security reasons - to include me or a designee in the Chief of Staff's Office - be memorialized. The Washington Post first reported the memo, which was later distributed by the White House.

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