Tester Demands Answers from FBI on White House Security Clearance Process

Nearly One Year After Raising Concerns, Senator Fights to Shed Light on White House Background Checks

(Helena, Mont.)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is demanding answers from the FBI regarding its flawed security clearance background check process at the White House.

Nearly one year after first raising concerns that the White House was bypassing critical components of the security clearance process, Tester is again pushing the FBI Director to shed more light on background checks at the White House and ensure that individuals who are responsible for handling the nation’s most sensitive information are vetted to the highest standard.

Tester is raising concerns following the resignations this month of two high-level White House employees who face domestic abuse allegations.

“Nearly a year after expressing concerns about the security clearance process at the White House, reports indicate that dozens of White House personnel still retain interim security clearances,” Tester wrote. “If the White House Personnel Security Division is adjudicating security clearances based on flawed or incomplete information from the FBI, that is of great concern.”

It was reported last week that more than 100 White House officials continued to serve with an interim security clearance-including many senior-level staffers who routinely brief the president.

Tester also expressed concern about the White House’s use of interim security clearances, which could be used to circumvent the background investigation process, putting the country’s national security at risk.

“If the White House personnel are not submitting SF-86 forms for pre-investigation, or if interim clearances are being used by the White House as a way around final adjudication, it represents a significant corruption of the security clearance process and poses a serious national security risk,” Tester added.

In order to receive a security clearance, White House officials must complete a background check process that includes a pre-investigation, investigation, adjudication, and reinvestigation if needed. The FBI is responsible for providing timely, quality information to the White House Personnel Security Division before the background check process is complete and White House officials are deemed eligible for a permanent security clearance.

In addition to seeking answers to his request from last March, Tester is also requesting that FBI Director Christopher Wray respond to 10 specific questions on the FBI’s background investigation process for White House employees by the end of February.

Tester’s letter to FBI Director Wray is available HERE.