Democrats seek subpoenas for White House security clearance data

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on a congressional committee investigating the White House’s security clearance procedures on Friday urged the panel’s Republican chairman to compel the Trump administration to turn over records they said were being withheld.

In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, Representative Elijah Cummings, the panel’s top Democrat, asked that a subpoena be issued to force the White House to turn over the security clearance documents.

“Last night, we received a completely inadequate response from the White House regarding our committee’s request for information about security clearances,” Cummings said in the letter he released.

Gowdy had asked the White House and Federal Bureau Investigation in mid-February to provide the committee with information about how an interim security clearance was issued to Robert Porter, a former staff secretary to U.S. President Donald Trump who left the White House last month after two ex-wives said he had physically abused them.

Gowdy later sent the White House a broader request asking about the extent to which officials had been working for extended periods with only temporary security clearances.

The White House responded to the queries on Thursday in a letter from Marc Short, an assistant to the president, which Cummings released on Friday. But the White House turned over none of the records Gowdy had requested.

Amanda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Gowdy, said: “The Chairman finds the White House’s response inadequate, and we have communicated to the White House that we expect full compliance.”

In its letter, the White House said it would “update” the committee at an “appropriate time” on the progress an Executive Branch working group has made to review and improve security clearance procedure.

Cummings called the White House response an “affront to our responsibilities under the Constitution.”

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Peter Szekely and Grant McCool)