Background checks seem to be a persistent issue with the Trump administration thus far. Starting most notably with the recent investigation into Rob Porter, a former White House staff secretary who was accused of physical abuse against his now ex-wife, to complications now facing the Commerce Department, it is clear that the administration has had difficulties in comprehensively screening many people who they bring on board.
In most recent developments, four officials working for the Department of Commerce have lost their jobs, amidst having had issues arise regarding the information found in their respective background checks. The officials had obtained temporary security clearances in order to work until their screening process had finalized, which has become a point of public scrutiny as more and more unqualified administration officials continue to work without full, permanent clearances.
According to a report by The Washington Post:
‘The department determined that the four appointees – including one who worked for the agency for nearly a year and served for several months as a senior adviser to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross – should not be given access to classified information, according to multiple officials who requested anonymity to discuss personal matters.’
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) February 28, 2018
The six-month senior advisor, Fred Volcansek, who was also a primary staffer for Trump campaign organizing events, has spoken out claiming he is unsure as to why the administration let him go, and that agency officials refrained from providing him reasoning. Volcansek expressed discontent that the agency or administration had waited so long to bring something up about the investigation, claiming that the inquiry had been open already for 13 months. The other three Department of Commerce appointees had decided to leave their posts upon being denied the permanent security clearance.
To put this in context, there are junior assistants at the Commerce Department who now have higher security clearances than the top Middle East peace negotiator. https://t.co/wEBL57H3nL
— Jamal Simmons (@JamalSimmons) February 27, 2018
The criticism surrounding security clearances of staffers initially emerged in the last recent weeks, as reports of former staff secretary Rob Porter emerged regarding his domestic abuse allegations from two of his previous ex-wives. The administration received significant backlash for having given the staffer security clearance without finalizing the investigation into his background, leading to concerns that the access to classified information is being handed out to a broad range of people who are unqualified to have the clearance.
This constant winning is starting to give me heart palpitations.https://t.co/F0kts4Hzya
— Ricky Davila #BoycottNRA🚫 (@TheRickyDavila) February 28, 2018
In addition to the issue with staffers, Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, also had his security clearance downgraded from a level of top secret, to secret. The decision came last week, as Kushner’s background check similarly provided previously unknown complications, requiring the senior adviser to no longer have access to the nation’s top secrets.
As more reports emerge regarding the carelessness of providing security clearances to various staffers and White House employees, it becomes clear that that administration has failed to effectively and properly conduct background checks prior to giving such valuable capabilities to under-qualified individuals. With the latest being that of the four Commerce Department officials mentioned above, public scrutiny is likely to not only increase, but demand that there is some level of comprehensive screening finalized prior to granting security clearances to the apparently broad range of individuals.
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