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House Oversight Committee launches investigation into White House security clearances

Elijah Cummings' new power for investigating Trump

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings announced Wednesday that the committee is launching an investigation into "grave breaches with the security clearance process" at the White House.

"The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation's most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms," Cummings said in a statement.

Cummings is asking the Trump administration for more information on the security clearances of current and former administration officials:

  • Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
  • Michael Flynn, Jr.
  • Former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland
  • Current National Security Adviser John Bolton
  • Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner
  • Former White House staff secretary Robert Porter
  • Former National Security Council senior director Robin Townley
  • President Trump's former personal assistant, John McEntee
  • Former deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka

Cummings is interested in how administration figures like Flynn were able to obtain a security clearance despite red flags, as well as his son's application for a clearance while he was on the transition team in late 2016. 

Kushner also had wide access to highly classified intelligence, even while he held an interim security clearance and awaited the completion of his background investigation in the first year of the Trump presidency. He was granted a permanent security clearance in May.

Cummings also alleged that Mr. Trump is violating the SECRET Act, a measure signed by the president in May which required the White House to submit a report to Congress by August 2018 on its procedures for adjudicating security clearances.

The Oversight Committee is a coveted assignment for Democrats in the Trump era, and several freshmen representatives have been added to the committee.

Prominent progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ro Khanna were added to the committee this year. All but Khanna were elected in 2018.

Ocasio-Cortez's assignment to the committee was first reported by Politico late Tuesday. A senior Democratic congressional aide confirmed the move to CBS News.

Cummings told "60 Minutes" earlier this month he plans to wield his subpoena power to demand documents and testimony from the Trump administration on a wide range of issues, after being stymied for two years in the minority.

"The American people and the Congress [are] insisting that [President Trump] allows us to do our job," Cummings said. "Basically what the president has done and the Republicans have done, they've joined hands. And the Republicans have been, basically, not only blocking, but [have] become the defense counsel for the president."