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Top Democrats Seek Subpoenas for Documents Withheld By White House on Brennan and Bolton Security Clearances

Sep 18, 2018
Press Release
White House Abusing Process to Attack President Trump’s Adversaries and Protect His Own Aides

Washington, D.C. (Sept. 18, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent letters asking Chairman Trey Gowdy to issue subpoenas to compel the White House to produce documents it is withholding regarding security clearances for two individuals:  (1) John Brennan, the former Central Intelligence Agency Director whose clearance was revoked by President Trump in retaliation for his perceived role in the Russia investigation; and (2) John Bolton, President Trump’s National Security Advisor who previously worked directly with a Russian woman who has now been charged with spying against the United States.

“The security clearance process is supposed to be used to safeguard our nation’s secrets in a nonpartisan way, according to guidelines set forth in executive orders and followed by multiple presidents dating back decades,” Cummings said on releasing the letters.  “But now it appears as if the White House is politicizing this process to attack President Trump’s adversaries and protect his top aides.  This is an area that is in desperate need of congressional oversight, but the Trump Administration has refused to produce a single document in response to our requests.”

Subpoena for Documents on Brennan’s Security Clearance

On August 15, 2018, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced at the daily press briefing that President Trump decided to revoke Brennan’s security clearance because of his allegedly “outrageous” statements and “wild outbursts on the Internet and television.”

However, on that same day, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump actually revoked Brennan’s security clearance because he viewed Brennan “as among those he held responsible for the investigation” into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

On August 16, 2018, Cummings sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly requesting documents about the process used by the White House to determine whether Brennan had compromised classified information or was otherwise unsuitable for continued access to classified information pursuant to existing executive orders.


The White House refused to respond.

As a result, Cummings sent a letter today asking Gowdy to issue a subpoena for these documents or allow Committee Members to debate and vote on a motion to subpoena them.

“The White House’s unprecedented revocation of Mr. Brennan’s security clearance for apparent political purposes is, as you noted, squarely within our Committee’s jurisdiction,” Cummings wrote.  “I ask that you finally put the full authority of the Committee behind a serious investigation of the White House’s procedures for issuing and revoking security clearances.

Click here to read today’s letter about Mr. Brennan.

Subpoena for Documents on Bolton’s Security Clearance

Also today, Cummings and Lynch sent a letter asking Gowdy to subpoena the White House for documents it is withholding regarding National Security Advisor John Bolton’s work with a Russian citizen who has now been charged by federal prosecutors with infiltrating the National Rifle Association (NRA) and spying against the United States for years.

On August 20, 2018, Cummings and Lynch sent a letter to Kelly requesting documents relating to the foreign contacts sections of Bolton’s security clearance application and information that Bolton provided to the White House about his prior contacts with foreign nationals. 

In their letter, they noted that Bolton was appointed to head the NRA’s Subcommittee on International Affairs in 2011, and he appeared by video in 2013 at a roundtable organized by a Russian citizen known as Maria Butina and sponsored by a Russian gun rights organization.

This past July, Butina was indicted for acting as a Russian agent inside the United States, and according to DOJ, worked to “arrange introductions to U.S. persons having influence in American politics, including an organization promoting gun rights, for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation.”

The Ranking Members noted that, to obtain access to classified information, Bolton was required to provide a wide range of information about his contacts with foreign citizens, foreign business and professional activities, foreign government contacts, and any advice he provided or consultancy arrangements he had with foreign entities.

Again, the White House refused to respond.

“The White House has not responded to our letter and has refused to produce the requested documents,” the Ranking Members wrote.  “The White House’s refusal to produce these documents raises significant questions about why it is hiding the details of Mr. Bolton’s contacts with foreign nationals.”

Click here to read today’s letter about Mr. Bolton. 

115th Congress